North End United 1
A FAST start proved vital as Freebooters began their season by bagging some silverware.
While friendly tournaments might be seen as a time to ease back into action, the city side were having none of it. A quick one-two, which led to a double strike inside 15 minutes, saw the Blues beat Wexford’s North End United and retain the Mock Lawlor Cup for the third year in a row.
An own goal, plus an impressive finish from Greg Morton after a sweeping attack, saw Anthony Hanney’s side take a firm grip on the game from a very early stage at the Fair Green on Wednesday.
United, the first ‘outside’ team to make the final, can count themselves a little unlucky not to have taken a very early lead. Andy Moore’s powerful third minute shot whistled past the left post while, two minutes later, Jason Murray broke from the right and chipped netminder Craig Cummins but his effort cleared the bar.
After two lucky escapes, ’Booters took the lead thanks to another slice of good fortune. Harried into a quick decision, defender Keith Kearney tried to head the ball back to his own ’keeper Lee Walker, but got too much loft on the ball. Walker got his hand to it, but couldn’t stop it from looping into the net.
There was nothing soft about Freebooters’ second goal on 22 minutes. Incisive link-up play between their front three saw Dessie Hayes nod an Eoin Kavanagh cross down into Greg Morton’s path. The striker showed great close control to work enough room inside the box, before smashing a low shot inside Walker’s right hand post.
Freebooters held that lead for the remainder of the half, despite North End’s best efforts. Jason Murray sent a thundering half-volley over the bar while Kyle Dempsey was a fraction away from pulling a goal back with a back post header on 44 minutes.
The visitors pressed on and got their reward when Murray was brought down in the box with 25 minutes to go. The striker took the spot kick himself, drilling it into the top right corner.
That was the signal for United to up the ante, but they were deflated within a matter of minutes. Damien Raggett was the architect, chasing down defender Stephen Lawlor and deflecting his clearance into Dessie Hayes’s path. With Walker off his line Hayes saw his chance and took it, driving home a sweet shot to secure the silverware.
Freebooters: Craig Cummins, Ger Hayes, James Kelly, David Rice, Derek Brennan, Neil Murtagh, Damien Raggett, Eddie Clifford, Dessie Hayes, Greg Morton, Eoin Kavanagh. Subs: Aaron Duggan, Aaron Molloy, Aidan Nolan, Julian O’Keeffe, Donal Brennan.
North End United: Lee Walker, Warren Broaders, Lee Aust, Keith Kearney, Stephen Lawlor, Shane Dempsey, Kyle Dempsey, Gareth McCurtain, Jason Murray, Adam Beary, Andy Moore. Subs: Trevor Berry, Craig Maguire, John Fenlon, Pierce Dooley, Alan Colgate.
Referee: Pat O’Connor. Linesmen: Eoin Walsh, Tom Walsh.