Dempsey fires Celtic to glory with late strike
A CONNOR DEMPSEY strike, with just 16 minutes remaining, gave New Ross Celtic victory in an excellent Youth Cup Final at Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday afternoon last.
It was a bitter blow for Curracloe, gallant runners-up, who dominated for huge chunks of the contest but found it so hard to find a way past an inspired Danieluis Niekes.
Indeed, such was their misfortune that despite battling back from two-nil down to level, the Third Division side would still be dealt the cruel blow of the losing goal.
New Ross, for their part, battled to breathlessness to keep ahead - their inspirational goalkeeping performance was matched by the heart of the back-four. And they were under pressure from the first whistle.
Curracloe, who competed three levels below Saturday's opponents in the league, could have taken the lead as early as the thirteenth minute when Dempsey was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area.
Stephen Mcguire's low penalty was well smothered by Niekes to set the tone for what would be a Man of the Match winning after noon for the stopper. Then New Ross took the lead, completely against the run of play.
Cian O'donoghue's lofted cross from the leftwing was headed towards the goal by Modesta Macenas and Eoin Rhodes rose highest to flick into the net via the right post.
Wave after wave of Curracloe attacks battered the New Ross goal, with the integral Adam Whitmore and the lively Stephen Mcguire the main instigators, but everything that was thrown at the goal was batted away by Niekes.
If there was an air of disbelief in the Curracloe dressing room at half-time about their predicament there would have been stunned bewilderment when O'donoghue slid in Rhodes twenty seconds after the restart for his well-taken second goal.
Weaker teams may have capitulated in the belief that it 'wasn't our day' but Curracloe showed no weakness as they upped it another gear. Soon they got their reward.
It was Mcguire's pinpoint left-wing free-kick doing the damage and Withmore was there, oncue, to head into the net.
Ten minutes later they were level and again it was a superb cross. This time it was from the right wing as a marauding Naomhan Rossiter swung in a delightful ball that Mcguire caressed, with a glancing header, into the net at the near post.
Yet, despite the comback, it was to be New Ross' day with Dempsey grabbing the winner from close range. With it the cup headed back 'west' for the first time in eight years.