HIBBITTS HITS 4 FOR’ MELLICK
NOW only Mountmellick United can stop Willow Park and St Peter's scooping the CCFL's two top trophies this season.
Four goals from Robbie Hibbitts on Saturday night powered Mountmellick to the Combined Counties Cup final and they now await the winners of this Thursday's semi-final between the two Athlone sides.
With the CCFL Senior Division title now reduced to a two-horse race between Peter's and Willow, Mountmellick are the last club capable of wresting at least one piece of superior silverware away from the big two.
And how CK United, the losers of Saturday's semi-final, will ponder on what might have been. Remarkably, they came from 3-0 down to level the match only to be denied by the magic of Hibbitts' finishing.
CK and Mountmellick have plenty of Counties Cup pedigree. CK won it in 2004 - beating Mountmellick in the final on penalties - and Mountmellick had chalked up back to back victories in 2002 and 2003.
So there was plenty of history when the match kicked off in Rossleighan Park.
After a bright start by CK, Mountmellick took the lead Hibbitts got on the end of a Padraic Goodwin chip and headed home the opener from inside the six-yard box.
Hibbitts is credited with an assist for the second, as his shot beat CK keeper Brendan Bracken and was finished over the line by Mark Parkinson.
In the 48th minute Mountmellick got their third when Hibbitts took the ball, ran 20 yards with it and then shot under the advancing Bracken.
CK got a 65th minute lifeline when Eddie Melia was adjudged to have handled a Brendan Bracken Jnr shot and Mark Dunne converted the resulting spot-kick.
Trevor Wright cut the deficit to just a goal when he beat Matsy Forde in a crowded goalmouth and then, incredibly, the Tullamore side were level when Darren Flanagan picked up an Anthony Coyne ball and shot home.
Mountmellick needed something to stop their collapse and they got it in the shape of substitute midfielder Tony Smith. Then, with 15 minutes left, Hibbitts ruthlessly latched onto a long goal-kick and beat Bracken again.
With his hat-trick complete, Hibbitts got number four in added time just to make sure there was no way back for CK.
MOUNTMELLICK UTD: Matsy Forde; Mark Parkinson, Shane Shortall, Johnny Goodwin, Eddie Melia, Mark Goodwin, Mark Grennan, Padraic Goodwin, Eoin George, Ronan McCormack, Robbie HIbbitts. Subs: Shane Dowling for Ronan McCormack (58 mins), Tony Smith for Mark Grennan (69 mins)
CK UTD: Brendan Bracken; Stuart Carroll, Anthony Coyne, Rory Doheny, Stephen Kinnarney, Pat Kinnarney, Darren Flanagan, Michael Bracken, Mark Dunne, Brendan Bracken, Trevor Wright. Subs: Stephen Weir for Trevor Wright (79 mins), Kevin Keenahan for Anthony Coyne (87 mins).
Referee: Columba McDermott (Offaly Branch).