GOALS and points were the order of the day for the top two in the Premier Division over the weekend.
Freebooters A may have seen their title charge stagger in recent times, but their determination to fight until the final seconds of the season came to the fore as they put eight past Bridge United A at the Fair Green.
Having needed penalties to get the better of the same opposition in the McCalmont Cup seven days earlier, Freebooters made no mistake this time round.
That said, there were some similarities with the game in Goresbridge. Again, Freebooters took a two-goal lead. Damien Raggett grabbed the opener, opting for power to blast a penalty to the net after Dessie Hayes had been felled in the box.
Greg Morton made it 2-0 soon after, but just like in the cup game Bridge hit back within a matter of minutes to halve the deficit. The big difference this time was that Freebooters didn’t let their rivals get back on level terms.
In one of the best moves of the match Morton made it 3-1 when he ended a clever one-two with Dessie Hayes with a crashing volley.
Two more Morton goals had the hosts in a strong position by the early stages of the second half. Dessie Hayes also weighed in with a brace, while young sub Aaron Molloy chipped in with a goal of his own to swell the winning margin.
“After throwing away our lead in the McCalmont Cup the week before we needed a big performance,” said Freebooters’ Anthony Hanney, who has taken over the reins on the Fair Green. “That’s just what we got.”
While the result may have come too late in the race for the title, Hanney agreed that the Blues do have the nice distraction of a McCalmont Cup clash with Fort Rangers to look forward to this weekend.
“Hopefully we will be able to produce a similar performance this week,” he said.
The win was enough to put Freebooters back on top for just a few minutes, as Evergreen A returned to the summit following their 4-1 win over the Lions A in Durrow on Sunday morning.
Just like their city rivals there was a hint of deja vu as Evergreen’s game started in a similar vein to their Cup clash with Callan United.
They had the chances early on - Joey Mulcahy went close but saw Lions goalkeeper Paul Shortall claw his effort over the bar - but unlike that 0-0 game, which they lost on penalties, this time they made their chances count.
Midway through the half Evergreen made their presence count when they broke away from a Lions corner. Mulcahy led the charge, with David Grincell moving the ball on for Chris Whearty to drive in from the right and add the finish.
Two goals from Mulcahy saw Evergreen up their efforts, before he completed his hat-trick in the second half to help his side go three points clear of Freebooters A, a gap they can extend to six if they win their game in hand against Bridge United A this weekend.
“It was good to bounce back after last week’s game,” said Evergreen boss Eddie McEvoy. “This time we took our chances and made them count.”
Freebooters also announced the departure of Sean Doyle from their managerial scene.
Doyle cut his teeth as player-manager with the club’s B team, during which time he secured Division One cups and leagues titles. Doyle moved on to the A team, starting as joint manager with John Delaney before taking over full responsibilities. During that time the club enjoyed a great run of success, not least when they won their third Leinster Junior Cup title in 2008.
The departure means that all three Doyle brothers have now left ’Booters this season. Long-serving goalkeeper Graham joined Wexford Youths during the transfer window, while A team coach and assistant manager David also stepped down recently. Graham was a member of all three Leinster Junior Cup winning teams and capped at junior level for the Republic of Ireland, while David was involved in the club’s three Premier Division title successes in five seasons between 2005 and 2009.