Dempsey winner not enough for North End
North End successfully completed their side of the equation but didn't get help from Cup final opponents Kilmore as the Hollygrove club beat Courtown Hibs away on Sunday to finish second in the Wexford Football League Premier Division.
Courtown Hibs 0 North End United 1
United knew their hopes were slim coming into the game but they went about the task in the proper manner. They could have been out of sight at half-time but as the score filtered through from Enniscorthy there was a clear easing off after the break.
That's partly because the Wexford town side still have the Cup final to look forward to, but they will be sweating on the fitness of key man Shane Dempsey after he picked up a nasty injury in the opening quarter.
Dempsey showed his importance in the 'Steven Gerrard' role of North End's 4-2-3-1 system by popping up, claiming possession and drilling narrowly wide in the opening few minutes. He had the ball in the net three minutes later but the flag was up for a close offside call.
With just nine minutes on the clock there was a sense that the goal was coming. When it did arrive it was rather easier than the nice triangles United were creating previously.
Lee Walker launched it long, and Adam Beary got in behind the defence, drew the 'keeper and squared for Robert Dempsey to score into an empty net.
With Andy Moore on to replace Shane Dempsey, North End had a different type of threat. Beary hit the crossbar with a header from Warren Broaders' cross before the substitute had a nodded attempt hooked off the line by Leighton Gleeson.
Alan Colgate was next to test the strength of the crossbar when he arrowed Moore's pass off the woodwork, while only a last-gasp Gleeson tackle prevented Beary from making it 2-0 in first-half added time.
The second-half was a different affair entirely. United knew their league race was run and played like it.
They did have a chance when Robin Dempsey shot wide but Courtown were causing more problems.
They went close when Ian Travers found Gleeson free in the box but his header was too close to Walker.
North End had a few half-chances, the best falling to Robert Dempsey just outside the six-yard box but he hooked over.
Courtown had a couple of pot-shots until they almost snatched a draw in added time when Eugene O'Brien slipped Colm Kinsella in, but his shot clipped the bar and went over.
North End: Lee Walker; Warren Broaders, Gareth McCurtin, Declan Downes, Lee Smith; Robin Dempsey, John Fenlon; Adam Beary, Shane Dempsey, Alan Colgate; Robert Dempsey. Subs. - Andy Moore for S. Dempsey, inj. (18), Stuart Lawlor for Fenlon, inj. (52), Paul Rossiter for Beary (66), Aaron Deegan for Walker (76), also Kyle Dempsey.
Courtown Hibs: Jamie Heffernan; Jack O'Brien, Colm Kinsella, Leighton Gleeson, Jack Freegrove; Ian Travers, Michael Kinsella, Eugene O'Brien, Colin O'Brien, Glen Hughes; Daniel O'Brien. Subs. - Dane McGarry for D. O'Brien (52), Conor Berney for J. O'Brien (61), also Graham Greene.
Referee: Nicky Boland.