Super Sky Blues win Under-11 Cup
North End United 4 Cloughbawn 3
A tap around between two teams, with no scores counted and no 'winners' and no 'losers' can never be this good. It just can't. If the Football Association of Ireland had their way at the start of the season, this Wexford and District Under-11 Cup final would never have happened.
It's all in the name of development, you see. There's a magic formula that the FAI have stolen from abroad, it says that competition is bad. It's probably evil, created by the devil, or Donald Trump or Piers Morgan or someone. Apparently, it needs to be stopped, pronto.
Tell that to two of the most gallant, brave, fearless sides ever to grace a soccer pitch in this county. Superlatives are easy to throw out but never have they been more deserved. This was the game of the year and a lucky few, maybe a hundred or so, were there to witness it.
Right from the first whistle both teams went at it on the little pitch at the top of the Regional Development Centre in Bunclody.
It was one hundred miles an hour of controlled mayhem, back and forth, chances every few seconds. It was truly brilliant.
It was a complete lottery too. Either team could have won, if it had finished 10-all and been claimed on penalties nobody would have complained. It just happened that on Damien Donovan's full-time whistle it was North End who held the advantage.
The Division 1A champions came into the game as slight underdogs against Cloughbawn, winners of Division 1. Yet they played like equals, believed in themselves and reaped the rewards for their gung-ho style.
While it finished 4-3, there were 22 minutes of football bliss before the opening goal was scored by the eventual winners.
Neither side had any control on the game whatsoever in that spell and it was magnificent.
A lot of North End's good play in the early stages involved Kaylem Harnett and Charlie Lawlor but it was Brandon Stafford who saw a header saved onto the crossbar by an alert Cloughbawn 'stopper in Shane Kehoe.
At the other end the lads in green had just as many chances as their opponents. Shayne McDonald was involved in everything for his side while the thunderous boot of Lucas Fitzpatrick had to be tamed by Cormac Redmond on several occasions.
When the opening goal did come, two minutes before the break, it was Stafford who produced the moment of magic for North End, firing to the net off the inside of the post from fully twenty yards out.
The Hollygrove side went two up nine minutes after the interval. This time Ruairi Ennis unleashed a rocket that Shane Kehoe did well to save, Stafford was on hand to pick-up the rebound and find the rigging.
Cloughbawn didn't become Division 1 champions by folding under pressure. They hit back within a minute when McDonald forced the ball over the line after Cormac Redmond saved Fitzpatrick's initial shot.
Two minutes later Fitzpatrick coolly dispatched a penalty after McDonald went down under pressure from Cormac Redmond from behind. Showing their own belief, North End went 3-2 ahead with seven minutes remaining when Lawlor's blocked shot rebounded off a Cloughbawn defender and agonisingly rolled over the line.
Seconds later Lawlor controlled a long-ball forward, turned on goal and fired low past Kehoe for 4-2. Fitzpatrick set up a dramatic last few minutes with a patented rasper from the edge of the box but North End held on to take a memorable victory.
NORTH END: Cormac Redmond; Ruairi Ennis, Robert Casey; Kaylem Harnett, Aaron Doyle, Brandon Stafford (capt.); Charlie Lawlor. Subs. (rolling) - Diarmuid Byrne, Jack Conneely, Adam O'Leary Stacey, Anginson Revit, also, Ashraf Yousif.
CLOUGHBAWN: Shane Kehoe; Oisin Rochford, Ryan Sinnott; Charlie Murray, Kevin Barron, Shayne McDonald (capt.); Lucas Fitzpatrick. Subs. (rolling) - Mary Kaylan, Killian Tierney, Cody Doran, Dean Browne.
REFEREE: Damien Donovan.