Hayes hits Under-17 winner
Craig Hayes was the star of the show as his excellent 30th-minute strike proved decisive in maintaining Wexford Youths' recent winning streak with a deserved victory over Cork City in the Under-17 league at Ferrycarrig Park on Sunday.
Wexford youths 1 Cork City 0
Hayes was a constant threat to the visitors' back four through the 90 minutes and his all-action play up front should have led to further goals, as it took some outstanding defending from both John Browne and Mark Brosnan to keep the big centre-forward at bay.
Having fallen a goal behind, Cork City went on to play some of their best football, with Alec Byrne prominent in midfield, while 61st-minute substitute, Dowie Van Sindcan, proved a constant threat down the left flank with some dazzling runs.
Despite their best efforts though, they were unable to break down the home side's back four, where the central defensive pairing of Stephen Hempenstall and Chris Phelan were outstanding.
The Youths had taken six points from their previous two outings and were playing with great confidence, but this was a far more difficult game than had gone before. They still managed to open impressively with Hayes having an attempt on goal blocked by central defender, Brosnan.
At the opposite end, Cian Murphy was put in on goal but lost control at a crucial moment, with the ball running clear to the advancing 'keeper, Adam Dunbar.
After twelve minutes Dunbar made an excellent diving save from a Ruban Henry shot from the edge of the area, while one minute later midfielder Alec Byrne surged forward to power in a low shot which rebounded off the bottom of the upright before being cleared to safety.
Wexford Youths recovered from these two let-offs, bringing far more energy to their play through excellent football from midfielders Ronan Devereux and Ciarán Murphy. They began to play with more confidence and from a counter-attack they broke the deadlock after 30 minutes.
A clearance out of defence was picked up by Devereux who drilled a great through ball, catching the visitors' back four square close to midfield, leaving Hayes to race clear.
The big centre-forward kept his composure with an excellent run before crashing a great right-footed shot to the top of the net past a helpless Ian Giltinan in the visitors' goal, leaving it 1-0 at the interval.
Some stand-out performances were witnessed through the second-half as Eoin Davis got a foothold in midfield for the Cork boys while Van Sindcan was hugely impressive with his runs down the left, but the home back four withstood the second-half pressure.
Cian Leonard sent an effort just over the top while Ronan Hennessy also came close, but despite a frenetic finish the Cork boys were unable to pull the goal back, with the Youths holding out for a deserved three points in the end.
Wexford Youths: Adam Dunbar, Michael Molloy, Stephen Hempenstall, Chris Phelan, Martin O'Connor, Ronan Devereux, Ciarán Murphy (Danny Doyle, 76), Conor McGrath (Michael Carroll, 68), Craig Hayes, Vinny Quinlan, Ivan Meegan. Subs. not used: Cormac Kehoe, Adam Rochford, Ronan O'Kelly, Jack Bates, Adam Dempsey.
Cork City: Ian Giltinan, Dylan Scott, John Browne, Mark Brosnan, James McSweeney, Ruban Henry (William Armshaw, 45), Eoin Davis (Dowie Van Sindcan, 63), Alec Byrne, Cian Leonard, Cian Murphy, Ronan Hennessy. Subs. not used: Conor Hogan, Gordon Walker, Brian Mulcahy, Peter Galvan.
Referee: Jimmy O'Neill (Wexford F.L.).