Classy North End complete three-in-a-row with big win
North End United Under-14s claimed their third Wexford and District Schoolboys Soccer Cup final in a row with a comprehensive victory over Ferns United in Ramstown on Monday.
North End United 4 Ferns United 0
The Belevedre boys, who also secured cups in 2013 and 2014, have now scored 15 goals in their three cup finals and are yet to concede. However, this was undoubtedly their toughest assignment in a decider to date.
Ferns came into the tie unbeaten in 18 games this season. It's the kind of run that sees confidence sky rocket and that was evident not only in the way they played on the pitch but also in the way they lined out.
North End wouldn't have seen too many sides play an adventurous 3-4-3 system against them this season. Some may have considered Ferns foolhardy to 'go for it' against such a classy footballing side, but the formation really allowed the underdogs to express themselves and 4-0 doesn't do justice to their performance.
It took just five minutes for North End to hit the front. In typical United fashion it was a slick move that saw Kyle Scallan release Darragh O'Sullivan-Connell down the right.
He then continued his run into the box where he controlled the incoming cross and curled a shot past Adrian Breen to the right corner.
Far from unsettling Ferns, they immediately set about putting the Wexford town side under pressure. They dominated for the next 15 minutes with Joseph McHale, Kieran Murphy and Noel Rowsome all having unsuccessful efforts on goal.
Almost from nowhere North End took a 2-0 lead in the 24th minute. Fast thinking saw Shane Pettit slide Seán Murphy in with a quickly-taken free-kick, with the midfielder taking on the last defender on the left of goal and finding the net from an acute angle with a well-placed shot.
Noel Heffernan was outstanding between the posts for North End, making difficult saves look routine. One such instance came three minutes into the second-half when Tom Browne crossed for Murphy to head at goal, only for it to be plucked out of the top corner by the commanding 'keeper.
North End had began to get a stranglehold on the game with Claude Flynn firing a couple of sighters narrowly over. His moment did come with 15 minutes left when he finished to the net from close range after good work by O'Sullivan-Connell on the right wing.
After more Ferns pressure there was still time for a fourth goal - the best of the day. Scallan slipped O'Sullivan-Connell the ball 20 yards from goal and he audaciously chipped Adrian Breen to wrap up the scoring, and the cup, for his side.
Star man - Darragh O'Sullivan-Connell (North End): the goal was sensational but his all-round contribution was immense, a real livewire for the victors.
North End United: Noel Heffernan; Adam Mullins, Liam Godkin, Darragh Murphy-Howell (capt.), Marcus McCarthy; Claude Flynn, Seán Murphy, Shane Pettit, Kyle Scallan; Darragh O'Sullivan-Connell, Seán Stafford. Subs. - Cian Kinlough for Stafford (50), Leon Sinnott for Murphy (53), David Harte for Mullins (68), Josh Murphy for McCarthy (68), also Byron Sweeney.
Ferns United: Adrian Breen; Joseph McHale, Shane Breen, Cody Fortune; David Power, Ross Mulcahy, Kieran Murphy (capt.), Noel Rowsome; Tom Browne, Corey Dunbar, Kieran Kendrick. Subs. - Byron Jordan for Kendrick (50), also Ben Lowry, Shane Dixon, Conor Holloway, Luke McHale.
Referee: Micheál Franklin.