Saturday 16 February 2019

Mighty Mary's win All-Ireland

Soccer, Tom Ticher Junior National Cup Finals: St Mary's CBS 1 St Joseph's (Galway) 0

The St. Mary’s C.B.S. (Enniscorthy) squad prior to Wednesday’s All-Ireland success in Whitehall
The St. Mary’s C.B.S. (Enniscorthy) squad prior to Wednesday’s All-Ireland success in Whitehall

Dean Goodison in Home Farm

Boom! A word enjoying a sporting renaissance because of a goofy, spectacled German with a penchant for reaching European finals.

It's also the word that immediately came to mind as Kieran Murphy connected with the 37th-minute half-volley that arched over Sam O'Gorman and flew into the top-left corner of the St. Joseph's net.

It was the boom that blew St. Joseph's to pieces, the goal that proved to be the difference between two sides that played out an entertaining Bank of Ireland FAI Schools Tom Ticher Junior National Cup final in Home Farm on Wednesday.

Coming into the contest many neutral observers made the Galway school strong favourites. After all, they were looking to secure this trophy for the third time in five seasons.

Not only that, a look through their squad shows no fewer than eight Galway United players, the club that currently sits second in the SSE Airtricity Under-17 Southern Elite League table.

However, what happened on the pitch defied that opinion from the start. Enniscorthy were aggressive, confident and in no way lacking in quality themselves.

They have three Wexford F.C. players in Danny Bruce, Seán Maher and Brody Murphy, and all played well.

However, the reason they are champions is because this was a fantastic team showing. Not one of the St. Mary's lads was less than excellent, every one of the 13 used played well, and there's no replacement for a strong, determined team performance.

They nearly opened the scoring as early as the second minute. Josh Waldron got forward on the right flank and forced the ball across the box to Cian Hanley. The midfielder got a sharp, low shot in that O'Gorman dived low to superbly push away.

In truth, that was as close as either team came until Murphy gave St. Mary's the lead late in the half. The Enniscorthy lads did most of the pressing in the first 20 minutes but struggled to get past a solid Hakeem Ryan at the heart of the 'Bish' defence.

Michael Delaney fired over the crossbar in the fifth minute. After Hanley was fouled on the edge of the 'D', Lee Jordan hit the wall with the free-kick before the ball landed at Waldron's feet and he volleyed over.

Brody Murphy got to the byline on the left in the 19th minute and put an excellent low cross into the six-yard box, but St. Joseph's survived when the ball rebounded off the knee of Jack Greaney into his 'keeper's arms from five yards out.

While Galway were struggling to get the better of the water-tight Enniscorthy defence, Colin Kelly did send Seán Maher sprawling low down to save a crisp 30-yard strike.

However, three minutes before the break the opening goal came at the other end.

It was Hanley again probing from the right centre of midfield. He whipped the ball into Murphy, and the centre-forward controlled and swiveled on the half-volley, sending it over the desperate dive of O'Gorman to make it 1-0.

There was a bit of a reaction after the break but Kelly couldn't convert either of the two half-chances that presented themselves to the Bish striker. They did come closer in the 58th minute when Ian Casserly sent a looping header narrowly wide of the back post.

St. Mary's needed a bit of a spark and they got it with the introduction of Irish international attacker Festy Ebosele.

The Enniscorthy lads threatened to create a glaring chance to net a second but the perfect final ball just wouldn't come.

Throwing men forward, St. Joseph's were dangerous. Kelly flashed over in the 65th minute and was denied by Maher again a short time later.

As the game moved into the last ten minutes the situation seemed to get to referee Paul Norton a little.

He made a really poor decision to penalise Ebosele for a great tackle on Charlie Concannon but, fortunately for St. Mary's, the free-kick flew just wide at the back post.

Seconds later he gave just as poor a call against Brody Murphy after he had beaten his man on the right side of the Bish area.

Moments after St. Joseph's had scrambled a C.B.S. chance clear, they broke and Kelly sent Maher diving to his left again to make a fantastic full-length save. There was bound to be a little more drama and it came deep into added-time.

Kelly beat two men and was bearing down on the penalty area. He was hacked down but the contact was clearly a foot outside the box.

Galway want berserk, looking for a penalty and roaring about the injustice, which continued to an embarrassing level after the game.

It was a big call for Norton and he got it spot on.

When things calmed down, the Bish still had a big chance from the free-kick, just to the left of the goal.

Kelly struck it well and it took a wicked deflection, but Maher wrapped up the man of the match award with a fantastic reaction save.

As St. Mary's broke out of defence they were greeted by the final whistle and christened the first moments as All-Ireland champions with joyous celebrations.

It was left to inspirational captain Danny Bruce to lift the cup on behalf of the first-ever Wexford winners of this competition.

St. Mary's C.B.S.: Seán Maher; Josh Waldron, Danny Bruce (capt.), Eanna Doyle, Noel Rowsome; Paudie Casey, Michael Delaney; Lee Jordan, Cian Hanley, Brody Murphy; Kieran Murphy. Subs. - Festy Ebosele for K. Murphy (59), Craig Peare for Delaney (72), also Darragh Breen, Cathal Roche, Ashley Kabuba, Bartiomeij Walkowiak, Michael McGrath, Aaron Wallace, Evan Dempsey.

St. Joseph's College: Sam O'Gorman; Dillon Cummins, Ian Casserly, Hakeem Ryan, Jack Greaney; Ben O'Gorman, Dean Murphy (capt.); Ethan Fiorentini, Colin Kelly, Charlie Concannon, Daniel Cox. Subs. - Mikey Devaney for Fiorentini (57), also Gabby Okacha, Iarlaith O'Sullivan, Conal Gallagher, James Egan, Lewis Waweru, Seán O'Brien, David Sheridan, Stephen Iredale, Campbell Idemudia, Deangelo Massah, Rory Melody, Dean Fitzpatrick.

Referee: Paul Norton (Dublin).

Wexford People

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