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Wednesday 19 December 2018

Cullen's the hero for Gorey Rangers

Wexford Football League: Courtown Hibs 1 Gorey Rangers 2

Joe Bolger of Gorey Rangers is tracked by James Fleming of Courtown Hibs.
Joe Bolger of Gorey Rangers is tracked by James Fleming of Courtown Hibs.
Gorey Rangers goalkeeper Seán Allen gathers possession

Brian Carty in Ounavarra Park

Ryan Cullen was Gorey Rangers' hero as his goal a few seconds shy of the regulation 90 minutes gave the Premier Division leaders a vital 2-1 victory over neighbours Courtown Hibs in a thrilling conclusion to Sunday morning's derby played at Ounavarra Park.

A largely mundane second-half looked to be meandering to a 1-1 stalemate that would have suited the hosts more than the visitors until drama took centre-stage.

Hibs substitute Marco Santos was a ball of energy when he was introduced in the last half-hour, and his trickery on 86 minutes turned his immediate opponent inside out before he arrowed a shot towards the bottom corner that Gorey goalkeeper Seán Allen did well to get down and palm away.

But when the rebound fell to Higor Garcez, he tucked away to the delight of the locals, only for the goal to be chalked off for offside.

It was one of those marginal calls that could have gone either way, but in this case the benefit of the doubt had to go to the eagle-eyed officials.

And on such decisions can whole seasons be defined, as Rangers would soon discover much to their relief.

They had began to express themselves a bit more in opposition territory the longer the second-half progressed, and when they forced a corner on 89 minutes, Eric Quinn's delivery was initially knocked down by Stephen Moloney, with Cullen swooping in on the rebound to rattle the net for what could yet prove to be a huge goal in the long run.

Quinn was almost immediately hooked off in favour of an extra body in defence as Gorey sought to hold onto what they had in injury-time, although Hibs came so close to a late sting in the tail when a shot from outside the box flashed narrowly wide.

With tackles flying in at a regular rate, and every 50-50 call appealed by both sides, the fervour and bite one would expect of a rivalry was there even if the quality was lacking overall.

That said, the two goals that each side scored in the first-half were impressive in their creation and execution.

Indeed, there were no real chances of note before Courtown took the lead after 15 minutes when James Byrne hassled and harried along the byline and stole possession before squaring across the box for the inrushing Glen Hughes to pick his spot with aplomb.

Gorey knew that they needed a win to keep up their season-long title charge, and they responded in kind some ten minutes later when Joe Bolger's flick beyond cover broke to Mark Woods.

The number 10 still had a lot to do when taking a touch to set himself and dispatching low to the opposite corner for a brilliant equaliser.

The game reverted back to its scrappy nature before that gripping closing chapter, although both sides fashioned one decent chance each before that, with Santos slipping as he fired just wide, and Jamie Howard unable to get the ball out of his feet when shooting straight at Jason Maguire.

Gorey Rangers: Seán Allen; Conor Casserly, Ryan Cullen, Gary Murphy, Nathan Brennan; Stephen Moloney, Gavin O'Brien, Stephen Kinsella (capt.); Mark Woods, Joe Bolger, Eric Quinn. Subs. - David Behan for Bolger (65), Jamie Howard for Kinsella (65), Seán Roche for Woods (82), Paul Murphy for Quinn (90+2).

Courtown Hibs: Jason Maguire; Colm Kinsella, Leighton Gleeson (capt.), Higor Garcez; Cormac Moore, Glen Hughes, Jack O'Brien, Conor Fortune, James Fleming; James Byrne, Daniel O'Brien. Subs. - Marco Santos for Byrne (58), Jamie Heffernan for D. O'Brien (66).

Referee: Darren Ennis.

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