Brady thunders St. Kevin's Boys to Cup victory
St Kevin's Boys U14 Premier side, completed a cup double with a resounding three nil victory over Shelbourne in the final of the DDSL Thunder Cup this afternoon. This success, together with their lifting of the SFAI Goodson Cup and runners-up position in the League, brings an end to what has been another magnificent season of achievement for this particular group of young footballers.
Glorious blue skies illuminated with sparkling sunshine, greeted visitors to the Mobhi Road ground of Home Farm FC on Saturday afternoon. Ideal viewing conditions were tempered somewhat for the participants by the underlying level of humidity. Both sets of players, however, provided a fully committed contest with some excellent passages of play.
The big pitch suited the expansive passing game favoured by St Kevin's and the team settled quickly into a comfortable rhythm. The level of control exerted by the St Kevin's boys had their opponents Shelbourne, on the back foot from very early on and the continued pressure forced them to expound a great deal of defensive energy. The anticipated breakthrough duly arrived on eleven minutes. A controlled series of passes in midfield saw the ball released to Ethan Mannion and the Galway striker delivered another sweet pass to the feet of skipper Robbie Brady. The elusive Brady waltzed past the covering defender and showing coolness personified, stroked his shot to the net.
St Kevin's continued to dominate proceedings and went in search of a second goal. A number of half chances came to nothing until the twenth fourth minute when Mannion drove into the box and was felled for a clear cut penalty. Brady's spot kick was well blocked by the Shelbourne goalkeeper, but the supremely alert Conor Murphy pounced on the rebound and fired to the net with clinical aplomb.
The commanding influence exerted by the St Kevin's midfield quartet of Sean Stewart, Gary Smith, Eoin Wearen and Brady remained a constant and goalkeeper Ryan Kinsella and his back four were little troubled. St Kevin's created further openings with the nearest opportunity to score a third and defining goal falling to Wearen, but his shot went just wide. Seconds before half time, Shelbourne did have a scoring opportunity when a lapse in defensive concentration allowed their striker a clear shot at goal, but the effort was blasted high over the crossbar.
On the resumption, Gavin Abbott replaced back injury victim Jeffrey Hopkins who had battled manfully through to the interval. St Kevin's started the second half with the same level of focus and structure and assumed immediate control. One delightful passage of play resulted in an inviting cross from Robbie Brady being headed over the bar by Ethan Mannion.
With eight minutes of the second half having elapsed, the game was effectively won with a third goal from St Kevin's Boys. The ubiquitous Brady collected a pass in the old inside right channel and attacked a plethora of defenders on the edge of the penalty area. A shimmy and a swivel created enough space for Brady to deftly switch feet and curl an exquisite chip to the top corner of the net.
With the game well under control, coach Paul Boyle made a series of substitutions at short intervals. Alex McCann repaced Stewart wide on the right while subsequently, Jeff Hendrick entered the midfield fray for Smith and Anthony Bolger came into the front line for Mannion. All three had moments of pominence and McCann was unlucky not to add to the goal tally when his shot flew just over the crossbar.
Not unexpectly, the hot and humid conditions began to impact upon the players and the game lost some of the structure evident earlier on. To their credit, the Shelbourne boys did not fold and battled energetically in search of a consolation goal. They were however, to be denied by a combination of hurried finishing and the sound defensive attributes shown by Conor Carberry, Matt Holland and Paul O'Brien in the St Kevin's back four.
The full squad of sixteen players under the guidance of Club Coach Paul Boyle, with the able assistance of Ciaran Heffernan, has acquitted itself with the utmost distinction throughout the season. The team has faced a series of daunting challenges, amongst them, SFAI Cup trips to Cork, Mayo and Monaghan. Seven of the squad have represented Ireland at international underage level during the season and both Conor Carberry and Sean Stewart have joined their colleagues with DDSL Representative sides. Injury too has taken its' toll, with Jeff Hendrick missing several games and Eamon Fakih being sadly sidelined for the finale, the DDSL Thunder Cup Final.
Paul O'Brien, Matt Holland, Jeffrey Hopkins, Conor Carberry;
Sean Stewart, Gary Smith, Eoin Wearen, Robbie Brady;
Conor Murphy, Ethan Mannion
Abbott for Hopkins (35)
Alex McCann for Stewart (45)
Jeff Hendrick for Smith (50)
Anthony Bolger for Mannion (55)
Eamon Fakih - injured