Beaten, but Blues will battle on

Freebooters B1

Freebooters B1

Bridge United A3

THEY MIGHT be facing a losing battle, but Freebooters B won’t go down without a fight.

A season spent battling against the drop has left the Blues on the brink of falling into Division One, but still they showed they have spirit to keep going.

Better yet, the city side have also shown they have the means to make for a bright future. While fielding two teams in the top flight has been costly for ’Booters, it seems as if they are content to use the second string side as a means to build for forthcoming seasons, as if to strengthen the A team from within.

Younger players will get the chance to cut their teeth in junior soccer, albeit at Division One level next term. Then, when the time is right, they will be ready to make the step up.

Already, the plan seems to have plenty of budding shoots ready to sprout. Several of Sunday’s starting team were young, but caught the eye with their enthusiasm, skill and keenness to learn. Among them were the full-backs Davy Kenny and Eoin Delaney, with midfielder Gavin Burke and winger Jason Hennessy also faring well.

Quick off mark

That they quickly found themselves trailing Bridge United followed a similar path to most of their season. The visitors were quick off the mark, Murty Broaders slamming home a penalty inside minutes before Cathal English quickly doubled their advantage, finding time to move close to the box and then unleash a bullet-like strike that flew into the top corner of Robbie Hayes’s net.

However, ’Booters showed that they were prepared to scrap for something on home turf. Martin Phelan gave his side a glimmer of hope when he pounced on a loose ball after Aidan Hynes parried a free, the striker reacting quickest to tap home.

Even though they were still behind Freebooters were revived somewhat by that goal. Jason Hennessy tried his luck with a half-volley after Bridge failed to clear a Stephen Connolly free, but the winger’s shot was directed straight at Hynes.

Bridge were no slouches in the attacking department either, as James Barcoe showed when he took down Conor English’s pass and skipped past Connolly, but he shot straight at Hayes when the chance to add a third goal seemed certain.

The Blues went back on the attack again in the closing stages of the half, with Hennessy again showing flashes of brilliance. A quick piece of skill saw him roll the ball past his marker and jink into the corner before firing a low ball across the six-yard box. The delivery was begging for a final touch, a slight one to help it into the net, but it never came.

Great chance

The hosts had another great chance to draw level in the dying seconds of normal time, as Stuart Delaney and Gavin Burke teamed up well to break down the right. Shane Kelly got on the end of the cross, controlling the ball, but his shot flew over the bar.

The second half started with Bridge looking for a way to cement the three points that would help stop them from being drawn into a potential relegation scrap. Young striker Sean Murphy served notice of their intentions when he picked up John Kelly’s pass and cut inside but Robbie Hayes did well to stop the shot at his near post.

There was no denying Bridge a third goal however, which they grabbed with 56 minutes on the clock. Freebooters thought they had cleared their lines when Conor English’s corner was headed out of the box, but the hosts failed to close down Kelly. The full-back saw his chance and took it, clipping a low shot that flew through a sea of legs and curled into the far corner of the net.

In truth there was no way back for Freebooters after that, but they refused to wave the white flag. Eoin Delaney was one of those to remain defiant, the young defender showing great presence to get back and head Barcoe’s near-post header off the line in the 69th minute.

There was also a late moment of brilliance from young goalkeeper Hayes. Although beaten three times he kept his head high and ended his day well, diving full stretch to his right to turn an excellent Kelly shot around the post with 10 minutes left on the clock.

Freebooters B: Robbie Hayes, Davy Kenny, Eoin Delaney, Damien Knox, Stephen Connolly, Stuart Delaney, Gavin Burke (Paul Delaney, 46 mins), Shane Kelly, Chris Valentine, Martin Phelan (Declan Foley, 75 mins), Jason Hennessy (Eamon Byrne, 57 mins).

Bridge United A: Aidan Hynes, William Hennessy, John Kelly, Murty Broaders, Colin Madden (Colin Rea, 81 mins), James Bolger, Eoin Kavanagh, Conor English, Sean Murphy, Cathal English, James Barcoe (Darren Foley, 75 mins).

Referee: Eugene Coyne.