Shelburne Youths had it easier than expected
The surprise of this top of the table Division 2 Youths clash was the failure of St. Leonards to field a full complement of players, with their depleted side on the receiving end of a five-goal drubbing from Shelburne who leapfrog to the top after this tie at Ballywilliam on Saturday.
Shelburne 5 St Leonards 0
While questions were being asked as to St. Leonards failure to field eleven players for such an important league game, only managing nine from the outset, Shelburne put their numerical advantage to full use as they managed to take the three crucial points. Indeed, their victory margin would have been far greater but for the excellence of Michael Ryan in the St. Leonards goal.
The fact that St. Leonards remained in this game through the opening 20 minutes can be attributed to the excellence of Ryan who pulled off a string of superb saves from Brian Cody, Patrick Murphy and Ory Majoyeabe. Furthermore, Oisín Firman was superb in the back four as he strived to contain the constant flow of attacks.
With such dominance from the home side, it was only a matter of time before the deadlock would be broken. Having expressed themselves from the opening minutes, the Shels boys scored after just ten minutes when Patrick Murphy got on the end of a Dan Cullen long ball to fire low past 'keeper Ryan into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Victory for Shelburne was inevitable given their early goal and numerical advantage. Their dominance of outfield play led to a series of attacks, going on to increase their lead in the 27th minute when Ory Majoyeabe availed of a breaking ball inside the area to deliver a low shot to the net. That made it 2-0 which was no more than they deserved given the amount of possession they enjoyed.
It was quite clear that St. Leonards were going to be on the receiving end as their attacking was limited to quick breaks out of defence. From one of those counter-attacks Niall Molloy had a fine shot on target, but Cian Sutton was equal to the task as he made a fine stop, and it was this shot which just about summed up their first-half attacking efforts.
As half -ime approached, the home side managed to make it 3-0 with a John Cullen shot from the edge of the area, ensuring the second-half was just a formality.
On the resumption, Patrick Murphy and Brian Lynch both went close to extending the lead with shots that went just wide. But despite this they were struggling for goals until the 78th minute when Brian Lynch leapt forward with a fine run and shot to beat Ryan with a low finish for 4-0.
With St. Leonards only building spasmodic attacks, they were never going to seriously test the home back four where John Murphy was a dominant figure. Their best second-half chance of a goal fell to Niall Molloy who saw his 20-metre effort go just wide.
Shels kept on trying to increase their lead, producing a fifth goal twelve minutes from the end with John Cullen claiming his second with a finish from close range. Then as full-time approached Leonards 'keeper Michael Ryan brought off an excellent save from a Brian Cody penalty, but it was still Shels who leapt to the top of the table at a vital stage of the campaign.
Shelburne: Cian Sutton, Kevin Bennett, Ciarán Kenny, John Murphy, Pádraig Lynch, John Cullen, Brian Lynch, Brian Cody, Boglan Connolly, Patrick Murphy, Ory Majoyeable. Subs. - Evan Ryan, Enda Kielthy.
St. Leonards: Michael Ryan, Jack Culleton, Donal Kiely, Oisín Firman, Adam O'Sullivan, Paddy Moloney, Niall Molloy, Nathan Trilssack, Stephen Whelan, Jack Cullen.
Referee: Damien Donovan.