Cork Schoolboys League 1 Donegal SL 0
DEVON GIBSON pounced for a 56th-minute goal to give the Cork Schoolboys League an outstanding success over Donegal in the U12 SWAI Championship final at Gainstown yesterday.
Just when the prospect of extra-time was beginning to loom large, the energetic winger steered home an enticing Cathal O’Sullivan delivery to finally break the resistance of their plucky north-west counterparts.
Robbie O’Sullivan’s Leesiders were hoping to make it a dream start to the day in the Westmeath venue, with Cork’s U16 outfit also in action against DDSL.
They dominated possession throughout the opening period, thanks in no small part to the dynamic presence of skipper Matthew Moore (who was later named player of the match) in central midfield.
With less than 60 seconds on the clock, Cathal O’Sullivan had a fierce drive tipped over the bar by Donegal netminder Padraig McBride.
Though the Ulster side began with just Thomas McDevitt and Daniel Cunningham in defence for this nine-a-side affair, their midfield and attack were forced to drop deep as the play progressed.
They managed to frustrate Cork on a number of occasions, but they breathed a sigh of relief when Danny Miskella headed over a Cathal O’Sullivan corner. Before Moore tested the resolve of McBride with a speculative shot, the dependable custodian thwarted O’Sullivan’s own attempt at securing a breakthrough.
Despite having their opponents of the ropes for large spells, Cork were stuck on level terms at the break. Indeed, Donegal emerged for the resumption a re-energised force.
Just three minutes into the second half, Ruairi Connaghan fired agonisingly past the target at a right-hand angle. This was a significant let-off for Cork and served as a reminder of what Donegal were capable of.
Nevertheless, the majority of the chances continued to fall the way of the Rebels: Denzell Ogbene and Gibson forcing low saves out of McBride.
Sean Richmond was introduced on the right-flank inside the final quarter, adding a different dimension to the Cork challenge. O’Sullivan produced a superb piece of individual skill to force the Donegal rearguard on the back-foot before McBride once again came to Donegal’s rescue.
Cork’s persistence eventually paid off with four minutes of normal time remaining as Gibson beat McBride to O’Sullivan’s precise cross. This sent the Cork bench into raptures and they held out to ultimately earn the top prize.
Denjoe O’Riordan; Dylan O’Sullivan, Luke Downey, Matthew Moore, Jayden Adair Bell, Danny Miskella, Denzell Ogbene, Cathal O’Sullivan, Devon Gibson.
Barry O’Connell, Sean Richmond, Conor O’Halloran, Odhran O’Sullivan, Reece Lyons, Finn Dalton, Dara Kelliher.
Padraig McBride; Thomas McDevitt, Daniel Cunningham, Oisin McHugh, Ruairi Connaghan, Max Campbell, Alex Ginnea, Turlough Carr, Carragher Friel.
Peter Carragher, Conor McGranaghan, Fintan Hasson, Caolan Duffy, Matthew McGeehan, Seaghan McCormack, Harry Pearson, Ronan Maher, Jack Manditt.