Borough welcome for the All Whites

by Karl Graham

CABINTEELY FC brought international football to the borough to sunny Stradbrook on Tuesday night, something the local fans probably never imagined possible.
However, when New Zealand came to town for a warm up game as part of their preparations for the Confederations Cup, which gets underway next week, that is exactly what occurred.
A mixture of regular fans and intrigued neutrals descended upon the home of Blackrock RFC to witness New Zealand secure a 5-2 victory in an entertaining tie. Some lined up along the side of the pitch while others enjoyed a bird’s-eye view from the large windows of the club bar.
The visitors put out a strong side for the first half that included Leeds United striker Chris Woods, Ipswich defender Tommy Smith, and former Marseille midfielder Bill Tuiloma.
Cabo started with many of their first team players and caused New Zealand trouble despite playing into a strong wind.
However, it was the All Whites – ironically playing in all black – who took the lead after just two minutes when Smith rose highest to head home from a corner.
Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters equalised for Cabo two minutes later with a nice finish from the edge of the box.
The game swung from end to end but New Zealand were the side creating the better chances with Wood finding himself within shooting distance time after time. After squandering a couple of chances, the beefy target man eventually found the net on 32 minutes. Calls for offside came from the Cabo players and fans but the goal stood.
Wood doubled his tally two minutes later after an exquisite cross from Kip Colvey, before Evan Galvin pulled one back from the spot with the last kick of the half after Tuiloma was adjudged to have fouled him in the box.
The second half saw both teams make vast changes, which had a detrimental effect on the quality on show. With less experienced players on the pitch, Cabo struggled to impose themselves on the game, while Kosta Barbarouses and Shane Smeltz added to the score line for New Zealand.
“We were up against a stiff wind in the first half and conceded an early goal but we bounced back really well,” Cabo manager Eddie Gormley told GazetteSport after the game.
“I thought their second goal was slightly offside but those decisions go against you, and when you lose another one so quick after that you start to think this could be a bit of an onslaught. But the lads regrouped and it was a decent first half performance.”
One player that stood out for Cabo was top scorer Waters, which will come as no surprise to anybody who has watched him play this season. “Marty will cause any team problems. I thought he was probably one of the best players on show tonight,” said Gormley.
There may have been no haka or fairytale victory for the home fans but the time New Zealand came town will live long in the memory around Cabinteely and beyond.

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