GRENAGH United were crowned Daly Industrial Supplies U17 League 2 champions after they beat a gallant Leeside in a playoff at sun-drenched Leeds Park in front of a large attendance.
This was a tough pill for the Little Island-based side to take, as they led the league for the majority of the season. However, Grenagh finished the campaign strongly by beating them twice forcing a playoff with both sides level with 36 points apiece.
Grenagh had the better of exchanges in the first half but went in at the break with the game scoreless.
It was Grenagh who started the second half on the front foot with their midfield maestro Micheal Russell in inspirational form.
They took the lead 1-0 in the 76th minute when Russell squared the ball for Nathan O’Connell to score a brilliant goal and that was enough for them to lift the title.
Both sides started the game very nervously, as it took time for them to acclimatise to their surroundings. The first real chance fell to United’s Shane Morley in the 14th minute, he ran on to a flick by Conor Quinn, but he powered his effort into the side netting.
Leeside had a good chance to break the deadlock in the 27th minute when Sean Duffy released Stephen Cotter, but United’s keeper Alex Kirk was alert to rush off his line to make a brave save. Grenagh had another opportunity 10 minutes later, after a deep corner by Russell, Morley recycled the ball on the edge of the box and played a great ball for Quill, but his effort went inches over the bar.
Grenagh thought they made the breakthrough six minutes from the restart when Russell played in Morley, however, his effort beat Leeside keeper Conor Twohig but Jack O’Reagan was on hand to clear the ball off the line.
Leeside then had a glorious chance in the 62nd minute, when Jagat Gogineni picked up a loose ball on the edge of the United’s box, but his powerful effort was well saved by Kirk.
Grenagh hit the front in the 76th minute, after good work by Russell, he played a lovely ball to their captain Nathan O’Connell and his finish was of the highest quality, as he sent his effort into the right corner of the net.
Leeside battled hard to get that all-important equaliser with Duffy and Jake O’Mahony very busy in front of the United goal.
However, they were close to conceding again in the 84th minute, when Russell won the race with Twohig the Leeside keeper for a loose ball, but when his effort was heading for the net, O’Reagan recovered to clear the ball off the line.
Conor Twohig, Cathal Nolan, Jack O’Reagan, Jagat Gogineni, CillIian Ford, Patryk Kregiel, John Dunlea, Alex Shine, Stephen Cotter, Sean Duffy, Jake O’Mahony.
Riad Ammeti for Nolan (66), George Keogh for Cotter (74), Tom Mills for Kregiel (83).
Alex Kirk, Jack Twomey, Luke Leahy, Scott Welsh, Robert Colman, Shane Morley, Micheal Russell, Nathan O’Connell, Dylan Murphy, Adam Corbett, Conor Quinn.
Daniel Hallissey for Quinn (70).
Yves Kriwan, Alan Kelly.