BLUEBELL United sealed passage to the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup with a sensational 1-0 win over League of Ireland side Cabinteely.
Shane Stritch’s goal midway through the first half proved the difference for the Leinster Senior League outfit, who won comfortably despite losing Keith Fahey to a second yellow card late on.
The game was played in Cabinteely’s home ground of Stradbrook Park as their Red Cow home was deemed to be unsuitable as it lacked shower facilities for the match officials.
The relocation proved no obstacle to the 2015/16 Senior Sunday champions as the ‘Bell marched to the last eight with a victory that both management teams agreed was merited.
“To be fair to Cabinteely, they were very gracious and came over to us and said it was deserved,” Bluebell manager Andy Noonan told GazetteSport.
“If anything, in the first half I thought we potentially could have gone in a little bit further ahead.
“The heat on the night was my only concern – we had a lot of tired bodies. It was only our third competitive game against a really strong, fit and athletic Cabinteely side.
“The lads that were on the pitch, a lot of them were ex-professionals. They know how to manage the game which, sitting back and looking at it, was brilliant to see. I didn’t sense any nerves in the game at all. The lads knew what they had to do.”
An exciting opening period saw Cabinteely engineer the game’s first chance as Dean Casey clipped a cross from the left wing over goalkeeper Andy McNulty and onto the bar.
The rebound fell for Ryan Swan – who was on the scoresheet in Cabo’s first round victory over UCD – but he could only shoot over the top from a tight angle.
A mistake in the Cabinteely defence presented Stritch with the opportunity to break the deadlock as defender Sean Fitzpatrick and goalkeeper Mick Kelly dithered over a long ball.
With neither taking responsibility for the loose ball, Stritch nicked the ball through and kept his cool to slip it calmly into the empty net.
Bluebell could have taken an even bigger lead into the break had Tony Griffiths’ long-range strike stayed the right side of the post, while Kelly did well to save low from Dean Ebbe.
Bohemians loanee Casey had another excellent chance to score for Cabo after the break following good work from Swan but he again saw his effort from outside the box miss the target.
Swan did manage to get the ball in the net ten minutes from the end but
was called back for offside, before Fahey saw red for a tackle on Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters and Bluebell held on for a famous victory.