Bohs blast four past Youths
First-ever appearance in decider ends in heavy defeat
The involvement of Wexford Youths in the final of the oldest competition in the country for the first time in their history proved a chastening experience in Dalymount Park on Monday of last week.
Bohemians 4 Wexford Youths 0
Leinster Senior Cup specialists Bohemians may not had collected the crown since 1997-'98, but that gap was bridged with considerable comfort as they romped to victory on a 4-0 scoreline to claim the impressive silverware for the 32nd time in all.
It was the 114th staging of a competition started in 1892, and revived in 2010 after initially falling between the cracks ten years earlier.
Youths had required extra-time in all three previous rounds to get past Athlone Town, Longford Town and non-league Collinstown respectively, but they had no answer on this occasion to a Bohs side whose stand-out result en route was the 4-3 quarter-final victory away to an admittedly understrength Dundalk.
And while this game was another opportunity for manager Shane Keegan to mix established and up and coming players, it will have served as an eye-opener to him given that Youths will return to Dalymount on Monday, September 19, for the third and last league clash of the season with the same opponents.
Derry City will visit Ferrycarrig twice in between, in the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup quarter-final this coming Friday and then in the league seven days later, and, with the games continuing thick and fast, the critical end-of-season spell is fast approaching.
On this occasion the side showed four changes in personnel from the league loss to Dundalk on the previous Friday, with Gary Delaney, Andrew O'Connor, Conor Whittle and Eoin Porter coming in for Lee Grace, Conor O'Keeffe, ex-Bohs man Andy Mulligan and Jonny Bonner respectively.
It was a second start for the very promising Porter, while Whittle is the only player to be selected on the first eleven for all seven games to date across FAI Cup, EA Sports Cup and Leinster Senior Cup.
And manager Keegan had introduced another new face by game's end, with Gorey youngster Vincent Quinlan the latest to be promoted from the Under-19 team and getting the last 17 minutes plus added time on the left flank.
Danny Furlong, Danny Ledwith and Chris Kenny were injured for the game, while Paul Murphy and Shane Dempsey were cup-tied after their involvement with North End United in some of the pre-Christmas rounds.
While established names like Mark Quigley and Ismahil Akinade were missing from the Bohs line-up, they still fielded a strong side and the constant inter-changing of their front three posed plenty of problems for Youths from an early stage.
Aidan Keenan was caught offside twice in the early exchanges before Gary Delaney did well to defend a dangerous situation in the eighth minute when Kurtis Byrne tried to bring an Eoin Wearen cross under control.
Graham Doyle made an easy save from a long-range Derek Prendergast shot seconds later, and gradually Bohs started to assert their authority.
Youths were restricted to three free-kicks, all from practically the same position on the left, in terms of openings before half-time. Shane Dunne took all three and aimed for Stephen Last at the back post, but the big defender didn't get a decent header on the first delivery, committed a foul from the second, and was well off target from the third.
In between, Graham Doyle had gathered a near-post cross by Keith Buckley with Dean O'Halloran lurking, and he was really tested in the 15th minute with a good save from Kurtis Byrne after the attacker played a one-two with Eoin Wearen.
This led to the first of six Bohs corners without reply before the break, and Youths had to defend two more in quick succession before the danger was finally averted when Dan Byrne headed over.
The opening goal for the home side arrived in the 24th minute after a deep cross by Lorcan Fitzgerald was knocked out for another corner by Andrew O'Connor. This time Fitzgerald's delivery to the near post was met by captain Roberto Lopes with a glancing header which arrowed into the far corner.
Bohs continued to press and forced another two fruitless corners before doubling their tally in the 35th minute. Full-back Dean Hayes floated a long pass from the right to the far side of the field where it was controlled by Kurtis Byrne and, after taking one quick look, he dinked the ball superbly over Graham Doyle and into the far corner of the net.
It was a goal good enough to grace any occasion, and it left Youths with a considerable amount of ground to make up against more seasoned opponents.
They did earn two free-kicks in decent positions before the break, but reliable netminder Shane Supple grabbed the first from Andrew O'Connor and Shane Dunne blazed over in the 43rd minute.
In between Dean O'Halloran had shot wide at the other end after a one-two with Kurtis Byrne, but they remained comfortable and would go on to double their tally after the break.
The odd aspect of the second-half was that Youths actually forced seven corners with none in response, but at the same time they never looked capable of erasing the deficit.
Supple caught the first, from Conor Whittle, which was earned by Peter Higgins after a mere 28 seconds. Andrew O'Connor took the second which was headed out for a throw, with Craig McCabe's delivery knocked out to Shane Dunne who shot over in the 50th minute.
Dunne wasted another free-kick before O'Connor saw yellow for a challenge on Dylan Hayes. Kurtis Byrne then shot high and wide from a headed Stephen Last clearance, while a good move featuring Eoin Wearen, Byrne and Dean O'Halloran was spoiled by the latter's cross which went behind Dylan Hayes.
When the third Bohs goal arrived in the 63rd minute, it was a carbon copy of the first in many respects. It came from another setpiece, this time a free-kick on the right after Shane Dunne fouled Eoin Wearen, and it was finished again by Roberto Lopes with a near-post header. The only real difference was that he really thumped this one past Graham Doyle rather than nodding it out of his reach, but the end result was the same and Bohs were cruising at 3-0.
Aidan Friel and Shane Dunne couldn't make the most of half-chances before a Conor Whittle corner was headed clear by Dylan Hayes.
Youths were committing more men forward at this stage, and inevitably they were caught on a swift counter-attack.
The key to it was Paddy Kavanagh's brilliant ball over the top to Keith Buckley who unselfishly squared it to his left for Kurtis Byrne to finish with an easy tap-in goal in the 68th minute.
Shane Keegan made a triple substitution as debutant Vincent Quinlan, Chris Kenny and Jonny Bonner all entered the fray. Eoin Porter was unable to get a shot on target before a Buckley header at the other end was saved by Graham Doyle, and the Bohs man then had an effort blocked by Andrew O'Connor.
Three more late corners yielded nothing in the way of chances for Youths who had initially been due to travel up to Dalymount again just four nights later (last Friday) to face Bohs in the league. The re-scheduling of that fixture to September 19 was probably a blessing in disguise given the circumstances, although Youths will need to step it up considerably if they are to match or improve their 3-3 league draw at the same venue earlier in the season on Monday week.
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle (capt.); Craig McCabe, Gary Delaney, Stephen Last, Andrew O'Connor; Aidan Friel, Peter Higgins, Shane Dunne, Conor Whittle; Eoin Porter, Aidan Keenan. Subs. - Vincent Quinlan for Whittle (72), Chris Kenny for Higgins (72), Jonny Bonner for Friel (72), also Conor O'Keeffe, Conor Sutton, Owen McCormack, Corey Chambers.
Bohemians: Shane Supple; Dylan Hayes, Derek Prendergast, Dan Byrne, Lorcan Fitzgerald; Keith Buckley, Eoin Wearen, Roberto Lopes (capt.); Paddy Kavanagh, Kurtis Byrne, Dean O'Halloran. Subs. - Jake Kelly for O'Halloran (69), Warren O'Hora for D. Byrne (77), Dean Casey for Kavanagh (82), also Dean Delany, Stephen Best, Ian Morris.
Referee: Michael O'Connor.