Youths return to first place
Cahillane scores on debut
Wexford Youths moved back to the top of the SSE Airtricity League Division 1 table with a solid victory over tricky Cobh Ramblers in St. Colman's Park on Saturday.
Wexford Youths 3 Cobh Ramblers 0
The Ferrycarrig Park boys fell to second in the table on Friday night after title rivals Finn Harps eased past Waterford United. However, goals from new signing Paul Cahillane, Danny Furlong and Conor Whittle ensured Youths returned to the summit 24 hours later.
Such a comprehensive victory looked a million miles away as the hosts played the better football in the first-half and really should have gone in ahead.
The visitors were edgy and out-of-sync playing without several regulars owing to injury and international duty.
Indeed, bar the opening few minutes, the first-half amounted to a succession of hopeful long balls that really didn't threaten a solid Ramblers rearguard.
Cobh, on the other hand, played plenty of attractive passing triangles but couldn't add the finishing touches to the chances they created.
Yet it was new signing, Laois native and former Glasgow Celtic youth and reserve player, Paul Cahillane, who went close in the second minute when he stretched to head Danny Furlong's right-wing cross over Stephen Hickey's crossbar.
Youths captain Graham Doyle made a comfortable save from Stephen Kenny's low strike and was called into action again from the same man moments later. The Wexford stopper dived to his right to save from the Cobh midfielder, and the ball landed perfectly for Shane O'Connor but with the goal gaping he headed wide.
Cahillane nodded wide from Conor English's cross in the 13th minute and that was as close as the league leaders went in the first-half. Cobh pressed on and saw Rob Waters chip too high, Kynan Rocks flash over the crossbar from close range, and O'Connor force Doyle to save before the interval.
Things didn't improve for Youths upon the re-start, with Doyle again sent flying into a stunning save from Christopher McCarthy before Kevin Mulcahy headed the resulting corner just wide.
Youths were stretched and looked set to fall behind when Waters got posession in the box but Gary Delaney somehow blocked his goalbound effort.
Ramblers never went close again. Shane Keegan's side almost took the lead when Craig Wall's thunderbolt rattled the crossbar from 30 yards out.
Wexford did go ahead on the hour mark when great pressing by Ryan Delaney allowed McCabe to claim possession and loft it forward for Cahillane who deftly headed over the onrushing Hickey to give his new side the lead.
Cobh went to three at the back after the goal and really struggled. It could have been two in the 76th minute when Ryan Delaney's effort was tipped behind the post.
When fellow defender Gary Delaney headed against the bar two minutes later it seemed like Youths would be denied again, but Furlong reacted quickest to the break to find the net from close range.
The result was wrapped up in the 88th minute when Hickey's poor clearance landed at Conor Whittle's feet. He took his time, stepped over the halfway line and fired a long-range effort into the empty net.
Youths are not in action this week owing to U.C.D's involvement in the Europa League, but they are out the following Friday in Athlone.
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle (capt.); Craig McCabe, Gary Delaney, Lee Grace, Ryan Delaney; Craig Wall, Chris Kenny; Conor English, Paul Cahillane, Jimmy Dermody; Danny Furlong. Subs. - Andy Mulligan for Dermody (69), Conor Whittle for English (69), David Doyle for Wall, inj. (90), also Gavin Dowling, Dan Brennan, Conor Sutton.
Cobh Ramblers: Stephen Hickey; Adam O'Sullivan, Brendan Frahill, Kevin Mulcahy (capt.), Graham McCarthy; Stephen Kenny, Christopher McCarthy, Jason Abbott, Kynan Rocks; Rob Waters, Shane O'Connor. Subs. - Darren Murphy for Waters (71), Ryan Goldsmith for C. McCarthy (71), Anthony O'Donnell for O'Sullivan (71), also James Furlong, Daniel Barry, David Curran, Eoghan Daly.
Referee: Jim McKell (Tipperary).