League Report: Kerry FC 0 – 2 Cobh Ramblers

Cobh Ramblers spoiled the Kerry FC party at Mounthawk Park on Friday night with a 2-0 win courtesy of match winning performance from new signing Jack Doherty.

Doherty made the first and scored the second as the Cork side opened their league campaign with a win for the first time since 2016.

In front of a sold out stadium, Kerry took their first steps in League of Ireland football and acquitted themselves well in a game that was scrappy and physical, to begin with at least. The early play was punctuated with fouls and the quality of the football suffered somewhat in the teeth of a strong wind.

But it was Cobh who settled more quickly and the first half chance came their way on 12 minute when Tiernan O’Brien McAllister’s free kick skidded across the Kerry goalmouth without finding the touch it needed to open the scoring.

Doherty then slung in a couple more free kicks, each causing hearts to flutter in the home crowd but none of them proving fatal. But the visitors’ greater command of the ball told three minutes before half-time when Doherty weaved his way to the end-line and then pulled the ball back for O’Brien McAllister to apply a simple finish from close range.

Kerry might have levelled the game within a minute when striker Trpimir Vrljicak burst through the Rams defence only to shoot wide of Lee Steacy’s goal.

Vrljicak did not reappear after the break, replaced by Ryan Kelliher but it was the second of Kerry’s two half-time changes that was the more significant. Leo Gaxh, returning from his spell at Sheffield United, came on for Sean McGrath and immediately changed the tempo of the game.

Within a minute of the restart his aggressively worked shot had forced Steacy into an awkward low save and he continued to harass the visitors, playing with such vibrancy that the atmosphere in the ground raised itself by several notches.

Gaxha almost claimed an equaliser on 65 minutes when he broke through and poked the ball past Steacy only to see Cobh full-back, Michael McCarthy, slide in and scoop the ball off the goal-line.

Cobh were under intense pressure but with 70 minutes played they broke away and swarmed towards an undefended goal. Kerry ‘keeper, Wayne Guthrie, came out to meet them, repelling the lead attacker but handling the follow up shot just outside his area.

He was duly booked but worse punishment was to follow when Doherty curled an exquisite free kick around the defensive wall and into the corner of the Kerry goal. From there on Cobh managed the game with admirable professionalism, quenching the home side’s spirit with a competency that was almost cruel.

A disappointing result, then, for the newest members of the League of Ireland family, but there will be better days for a team that showed many qualities through the evening.

Kerry FC: Wayne Guthrie; Graham O’Reilly, Kevin Williams, Shane Guthrie, Kalen Spillane, Sean O’Connell; Sean Kennedy (Nathan Gleeson 58), Matt Keane, Ronan Teahan (Kennedy Amechi 79), Sean McGrath (Leo Gaxha 46); Trpimir Vrljicak (Ryan Kelliher 46).

Subs Not Used: Callan Scully (gk), Alex Ainscough, Andy Quaid, Sam Aladesanusi, Jonathan Hannafin.

Booked: Sean Kennedy (19), Trpimir Vrljicak (45), Shane Guthrie (58), Leo Gaxha (61), Wayne Guthrie (71), Kennedy Amechi (84).

Cobh Ramblers: Lee Steacy; Michael McCarthy, Brendan Frahilll, Charlie Lyons, Cian Browne; Dale Holland (Pierce Phillips 64), Lee Desmond (Callum Stringer 85), Greg Abbott, Tiarnan O’Brien McAllister (Justin Eguaibor 69); ;Jack Doherty (David Bosnjak 85), Wilson Waweru (Jake Hegarty 70).

Subs Not Used: Darragh Burke (gk), Issa Kargbo, Darragh O’Connell.

Booked: Dale Holland (36), Charlie Lyons (45).

Referee: Declan Toland

Extratime Player of the Match: Jack Doherty (Cobh Ramblers)