Evergreen A 2
Freebooters A 1
TWO GOALS secured the three points that meant one precious League title for Evergreen A.
The men in green were in high spirits at the final whistle on Sunday, as goals from Chris Whearty and Joe Mulcahy saw off Freebooters A and sealed the Premier Division crown for the second season in succession.
The battle of the top two on the final day of the season drew a big crowd to the Kells Road for the winner-takes-all clash that began at 100 miles per hour.
The first real chance saw Freebooters almost take the lead after Damien Raggett’s 11th minute long throw-in bounced in front of Greg Morton.
Morton had nothing but goal on his mind when he pulled the trigger. His thundering half-volley seemed destined for the net, but somehow Pierce Dargan got across to his right to somehow push the ball out for a corner.
With a strong wind at their backs Evergreen were encouraged to push more men forward. Then, with 32 minutes on the clock, they finally found a way through.
Picking up possession in the centre circle, Brian Jordan pinged a low ball downfield towards the left corner, but a deflection off defender Ger Hayes took the ball directly into Chris Whearty’s path.
Racing into the box Whearty didn’t slow down until he saw Graham Doyle moving off his line, then coolly slipped a low shot to the far side of the ’Booters net.
Evergreen stayed on the front foot with Mulcahy forcing a good save from Doyle just 60 seconds later, but Freebooters showed they could instantly turn defence into attack. Doyle’s booming kick-out was turned into a brilliant Morton cross, which was inch-perfect for John Hayes. He had time to take a touch and then let fly, but Dargan stayed up long enough to make the stop.
That save ensured Evergreen maintained their lead into the break, but they could so easily have doubled it three minutes before half-time. Jamie Owens went within a whisker of getting on the scoresheet when he beat Doyle with a long range thunderbolt, but the ball hit the left upright and bounced back, much to the ’keeper’s relief.
That miss mattered little, as Evergreen needed just eight second half minutes to take a firm grip on the title. Brian Jordan and Jamie Owens combined with a slick one-two before pushing the ball into the path of Joe Mulcahy, who held off his marker before firing a low shot into the far left corner.
Freebooters refused to throw in the towel, and almost found a way back into the game on 67 minutes. Damien Raggett found the time and space to jink his way into the box and unleash a fine shot, but again Pierce Dargan was there to deny him.
The Blues kept on the attack, but they couldn’t find the breakthrough. John Hayes tried his luck with an 82nd minute free, curling the ball over the wall, but Dargan was well-placed to make the save.
Within seconds Dargan’s kick-out turned defence into attack. It looked like ’Booters were sunk when Mulcahy was sent tumbling in the box by James Kelly’s challenge, but there was a twist. Instead of winning a penalty, which seemed a certainty, Mulcahy was given a second yellow card.
Although reduced to ten men Evergreen refused to panic. It was almost the opposite, as sub Lee Delaney got on the end of a good Niall Andrews delivery and beat Graham Doyle with a shot from close to the end line, but his effort clattered off the underside of the bar and stayed out.
The Blues kept searching for a way back into the game, and grabbed a goal when Eddie Clifford slammed a loose ball into the net two minutes into added time. That was the signal for one final all-out push – even goalkeeper Doyle raced upfield for a 94th minute corner – as a second goal would have left the teams locked in a play-off for the title, but Evergreen held on for the final whistle which confirmed their coronation.
Evergreen A: Pierce Dargan, Tommy Earls, Michael Cashin, Mark Andrews, Robbie Quan, Brian Jordan, Mark Cashin (Vinny O’Brien, 70 mins), Niall Andrews, Joe Mulcahy, Jamie Owens, Chris Whearty (Lee Delaney, 75 mins).
Freebooters B: Graham Doyle, Ger Hayes (Paul O’Brien, 75 mins), James Kelly, Michael Falsey, Derek Brennan, Eamon Lyster (William Flood, 70 mins), Greg Morton, Eddie Clifford, Dessie Hayes, Damien Raggett, John Hayes.
Referee: Pat Conroy. Linesmen: Eoin Walsh, Tom Walsh.