Finnegan grabs winner for Ferns
A 77th-minute goal from Owen Finnegan earned Ferns a hard-fought three points against a spirited Wexford Celtic outfit in their Youths League Division 1 clash at Sinnottstown Lane on Saturday.
Wexford Celtic 0 Ferns United 1
Finnegan applied the finish after a forceful run from substitute Adrian Breen to break Celtic hearts after a keenly-contested encounter.
Ironically, Wexford Celtic had just enjoyed their best spell of the game, as they pinned their opponents back for much of the second period.
The hosts certainly rode their luck at times in the first-half, particularly when Ferns failed to convert from the penalty spot, but they had more about them after the interval and will feel unfortunate that they failed to take anything from the game.
That said, once Ferns got their noses in front they never really looked like relinquishing their advantage and could have even added to their tally before the final whistle.
The first-half was a tepid enough affair although Ferns had the ball in the net in the 14th minute, but Kyle McHale was in an offside position when he prodded home after Shane Breen's free-kick was too hot to handle for Celtic goalkeeper Jake Clancy.
Ferns showed some neat touches in their build-up play but chances were few and far between, although in the 28th minute Joey McHale found Owen Finnegan and the number ten did well to get to the byline and deliver a delicious cross that was just begging to be tapped to the net.
At the other end Anton Ludwig saw his shot well blocked by Kieran Murphy, and the netminder had a gilt-edged opportunity to make a name for himself in a different role when Joey McHale was fouled in the area with 36 minutes on the clock.
Goalkeeper Murphy made the long walk forward to take the spot-kick, but his opposite number Jake Clancy spread himself well to his right to make the save.
Wexford Celtic began the second-half in more determined mood, and Andrew Byrne's shot was comfortably thwarted by Murphy before Eoin Reck glanced an effort narrowly wide on 50 minutes.
Ferns almost caught Celtic on the break in the 62nd minute when Shane Breen's shot from inside the area was just off target.
A couple of changes added a bit of impetus to the Wexford Celtic attack, and substitute Brandon Farrell did well on the right in the 65th minute before delivering a cross which was knocked goalwards by Luke Codd, but goalkeeper Murphy smothered the effort.
Ciarán Barlow, who had also been sprung from the bench, came close to breaking the deadlock moments later but Murphy again did brilliantly to get an outstretched leg to the shot.
Ferns illustrated that they also had talent in reserve in the 73rd minute when Adrian Breen played a crossfield ball to fellow substitute Paddy Roche, who managed to get a shot on target.
Roche played a major part when Ferns broke the deadlock four minutes later, bursting forward with purpose before firing the ball across the face of goal, and Owen Finnegan slotted in from close range despite the best efforts of scrambling goalkeeper Clancy.
Clancy pulled off a fantastic save a minute later to keep Celtic in the game, denying Paddy Roche after he had been put through by Niall Murphy, but the hosts couldn't breach a well-organised Ferns United defence in the remaining moments.
Wexford Celtic: Jake Clancy, Ethan Lahiff, Seán McGrath, Sam McSherry, Dillon Kehoe, James Quinn, Anton Ludwig, Luke Codd, Eoin Reck, Matthew Duffy, Andrew Byrne. Subs. - Ciarán Barlow for McSherry, Brandon Farrell for McGrath, also Luke Sheil.
Ferns United: Kieran Murphy, Robert Ronan, Leon Furlong, Shane Breen, Charlie Carney, Niall Murphy, Evan Ryan, Kyle McHale, Joey McHale, Owen Finnegan, Dylan O'Sullivan. Subs. - Adrian Breen for Furlong, Paddy Roche for O'Sullivan.
Referee: Jimmy O'Neill.