CORK is home to the best U14 team in the country after Midleton comprehensively beat Belvedere in the SFAI Subway National Cup Final in Cahir on Sunday.
Despite the sunny weather in the days leading up to the game, the conditions were wet and blustery, complicating proceedings for the defenders at times.
Belvedere started the game with real purpose, pushing the opposition back into their own half and really trying to stamp their authority on the match.
The ball played out to Harvey Fomenky on the right who cut into the box but was dispossessed before he could get a shot away. Midleton were struggling to get on the ball in the opening five minutes, Charlie McConnell setting the tempo in the middle of the park and conducting the play well for Belvedere.
But just six minutes in and against the run of play, Midleton took the lead.
After a good string of passes the ball was whipped in from the left, Alex Wilson getting his head on it at the back stick to put his side in front.
Less than three minutes later it was 2-0. After more good football, Shay Forbe was played through down the right.
He controlled well and sent a brilliant strike back across goal into the bottom left corner.
Going in front really settled the Leesiders as they started to dominate possession and look the stronger of the two sides.
In any final the midfield battle is always going to be pivotal, and this was certainly no exception.
Artan Iliukovic from Midleton started to command the middle of the park and acted as the foundation for his side. He was everywhere on the pitch before being forced off with cramp in the second half.
Ryan McCarthy had Belvedere’s first real shot on target after nearly 15 minutes, but Jack Mills was there to gather the ball safely. With 25 minutes gone McCarthy had another effort on goal, turning well but his strike was straight at Mills.
His opposite number Wilson had a shot a minute later but it was deflected and put out for a corner.
Midleton extended their advantage from the resulting set piece, Iliukovic rising highest and seeing his bullet of a header hit the back of the net.
However, with just five minutes left in the half, Belvedere got a goal back. Jack Higgins won the ball 30 yards from goal and let fly, finding the left bottom corner.
Belvedere started the second half with real intent. Looking for an early goal to get themselves within touching distance of the opposition.
The determination of Midleton meant this would never materialise and in fact the gap between the sides was extended in the second period.
Alex Wilson was proving to be a constant threat in the final third for the Cork outfit while Shay Forbe displayed a tireless work rate, putting in a real shift down the left-hand side.
Ten minutes into the half, Wilson stepped up to take a free kick from 30 yards and unleashed a magnificent strike that flew into the top left corner and put breathing room between the teams.
At the other end Alex Kovalenko was played through and looked like he would finish it only for the valiant efforts of Mills in goal.
With 15 to go, Midleton extended their lead further, Ciarán Kelly rising highest in the box to head home a corner and make it impossible for Belvedere to stage a comeback.
Inside the last 10 minutes, Harvey Fomenky was nearly through for a consolation goal but was denied by yet another brilliant save by Mills between the sticks who put on an impressive performance for his side.
Midleton got to savour the final few minutes, emptying their bench and playing knowing their fate was secured.
Not even the poor conditions could dampen the spirits of the Midleton faithful at the full-time whistle when they were deservedly crowned U14 National Cup Champions.
Jack Mills, Ronán Mackessy, Stephen Comerford, Ciarán Kelly, Nikolai van Ascheraden, Charlie McCarthy (c), Alex Wilson, Artan Iliukovic, Shay Forbe, Edvard Pidoyma, Eoin McCarthy.
Padraig Murphy, Conor O’Brien, Ryan Cremin, Brayan Wiecek, Alex Molumby, Caleb Murray.
Brody Kelleher, Liam Norris, Jamie O’Brien, Ben Donnery, Lucas Hennessy (c), Jack Higgins, Ryan McCarthy, Charlie McConnell, Harvey Fomenky, Rhys Williams, Dylan Baker.
Michael O’Higgins, Alex Kovalenko, Arsenal Iheanacho, Anto Kelly, Blake Lynch.
John Maguire, Billy Donoghue, Mark Haide.