Cork Schoolboys League 2 DDSL 1
THE Cork Schoolboys League survived a late onslaught at Gainstown yesterday to deservedly retain their U16 SFAI Championship title.
Shayne Browne found the net in each half to give the Munster side a firm stranglehold on the play. A spirited DDSL cut the deficit late on through Ciaran Eccles, but it wasn’t enough to spoil Cork’s day.
This completed a magnificent double in Mullingar for the county. Earlier in the day, Cork squeezed past Donegal in the U12 showpiece - the perfect curtain-raiser for what was to follow.
Under the guidance of Ronan Collins - now in permanent charge of Cork City in the Women’s National League - the Leesiders edged out the Metropolitans in last year’s decider at the same venue.
A number of high-profile players have come through the DDSL system in recent years and Cork had to be wary of a potential backlash at Mullingar Athletic AFC.
Although both sides mounted pressure during the early exchanges, it was Zoran Teodorovic’s Rebels who drew first blood. Following an intricate attacking move down the left-flank, Shayne Browne found himself through on goal.
Despite the best efforts of DDSL netminder Amos Dezu, he fired superbly to the back of the net for a sixth-minute goal. This was the ideal start to the proceedings for Cork and they continued to play with confidence as the first-quarter developed.
Browne was afforded a licence to roam, while John Fitzgerald also posed a serious threat in the wide areas.
After suffering an early blow, DDSL initially found it difficult to re-adjust. Joey Reynolds linked up effectively with frontman Jack Warren before poking a shot over Antonio Ancheta’s crossbar.
A bout of heavy rainfall led to some scrappy play from both sides, though Cork went close to doubling their lead on a couple of occasions. Striker Jack Dawson was narrowly wide of the mark on 22 minutes and he subsequently back-heeled past the left-hand post off a Fitzgerald delivery.
Ancheta was finally forced into action just past the half-hour mark, comfortably gathering an Evan Laughlin close-range header. At the opposite end, the flight of a Browne cross deceived Dezu and Jack Anthony shook the woodwork before the ball drifted away to safety.
Cork were midway towards repeating the heroics of 2018, but in spite of a below-par opening period display, DDSL remained firmly in the hunt. Midfielder Matthew O’Brien was becoming more prominent for Terry Carroll’s men and he floated a 30-yard free-kick narrowly past the Cork goal.
However, they struggled to curb the attacking influence of Cork and were ruthlessly punished for a second time in the 48th-minute. Latching onto Cormaic Kelly’s magnificent through ball, Browne showcased impeccable composure to slot home his second goal of the tie.
Cork now had one hand on the silverware and with DDSL desperately searching for an avenue into the game, they were looking to expose further gaps in their defence. A third goal almost arrived through Fitzgerald, but Dezu was relieved to see it drift away from the target.
Ancheta was an assured presence throughout for Cork and when Ollie Kendrick rose to meet an O’Brien free-kick on the hour mark, he tipped over in acrobatic fashion.
The Cork back-four also remained stout as Anthony’s telepathic understanding with Ian Drinan keep the DDSL front line at bay time and time again
Cork substitute JP Linehan was brilliantly thwarted by Dylan Molloy as he bore down on goal and it was a replacement on the DDSL side that served up a nerve-wracking finale. Eccles headed to the net inside stoppage-time and they still had a couple of minutes to seek an equaliser.
They managed to finish at the end of another set-piece but with referee Tommy Cunningham having already awarded a free to Cork, they were not to be denied an outstanding triumph.
CORK SL: Antonio Ancheta; Adam Walsh, Jack Anthony, Ian Drinan, Mark Carey; Conor Hanley, Cormaic Kelly; Shayne Browne (Deo Munza 76), Ethan Giltinan (JP Linehan 55), John Fitzgerald (Godfrey Elve 80); Jack Dawson (Liam O’Leary 79).
DDSL: Amos Dezu; Ollie Kendrick (Ciaran Eccles 79), Dylan Molloy (Brandon Leonard 79), Evan Laughlin, Conor Regan (Madjid Musod 60); Matthew O’Brien, Ryan Reape; Joey Reynolds, Jack Cunningham (Alan O’Shea 67), Shaun Murphy (Zeke Ikporko 51); Jack Warren (Cian Mahon 76).
Referee: Tommy Cunningham (Midlands Schoolboys League).