Shield brings bliss for ’Booters

Sean Kiely was the toast of Derdimus after his late heroics helped Freebooters get their hands on the Henderson Youths’ Shield.

Sean Kiely was the toast of Derdimus after his late heroics helped Freebooters get their hands on the Henderson Youths’ Shield.

The Freebooters goalkeeper picked a good moment to shine, stopping three Callan United penalties to give the city side the first piece of silverware from the youths’ season.

First Kiely won a battle of nerves with his opposite number, diving low to his right to stop Dylan Roche’s spot-kick. After that, he stayed big to beat out Darren Audoire’s effort, before sealing the spoils when he denied Kevin Fitzpatrick from 12 yards.

But while there was joy for Freebooters as Kiely made that last save, Callan were left crestfallen. It was easy to see why - they had been within touching distance of taking the title themselves, only to see a two-goal lead evaporate in the final quarter of normal time.

Callan had looked very comfortable as the game wore on, but Freebooters gained a lifeline when Darren Audoire turned Shane Shaughnessy’s 72nd minute corner into his own net.

The goal revitalised ’Booters, so much so that it took just four more minutes before they were back on level terms.

Charging forward, Sam Watkins led the Blues rally with a surge from midfield. Ryan Maguire pulled the ball back for Cian Loy, but he was upended in the box before he could strike.

It mattered little to Loy, who dusted himself down and made no mistake from the resulting spot-kick, drilling home from 12 yards.

That double whammy was a cruel blow on Callan, who battled their way into the game. Freebooters started with pace, attacking their rivals with short bursts of quick passing, but the longer the half wore on the more Callan grew into the game.

Their confidence rose to an incredibly new level when, with 19 minutes on the clock, they took the lead. United used their set-piece skills to deadly effect, Dylan Dunphy delivering a free-kick from the left that zipped into the box at pace.

Brian Kirwan was quickest to react, stealing in to get a stooping header on the ball. It flashed across the box, past the static ’Booters defence and towards Phil Cahill, who added the finish at the far post.

Buoyed by that goal United began to press forward even more, but a Freebooters response was only an attack away. They got a scare when, following a Robert Kerwick attack, Freebooters stopped the ball and went on the counter. Ryan Maguire went on the charge with a searing run into the Callan box, but Dylan Roche raced from his line to make a brave stop before Maguire could pull the trigger.

Strong defence

Callan’s defence was a strong point - Eoin Scriven and Kevin Fitzpatrick went about their duties with composure - but their attack wasn’t too bad either, as they proved just minutes into the second half.

Again, their delivery from the dead ball paid off handsomely. Dylan Dunphy was to the fore, knocking over a teasing ball from close to the corner flag on the right flank.

The cross was good - the finish something else. Stealing a yard of space, Brian Kirwan watched the ball come across and met it with the perfect header, sending it arcing back in the direction it came, before it dropped into the top right corner.

Callan were in dreamland at that stage, but didn’t stop to take it all in. They pushed on, almost getting a third goal when Robert Kerwick and Keith Fitzpatrick carved ’Booters open with a neat one-two. Play fell at the feet of Lee Doheny, who made space to strike, but Sean Kiely did well to turn the shot on to the crossbar from point-blank range.

That scare was the sign for Freebooters to up the ante. Cian Loy was denied a goal only by the bravery of netminder Dylan Roche - he did even better on the hour, producing a spectacular save to deny Maguire from close range before getting up to swat the ball away before Loy could pounce on the rebound.

However, Callan’s luck couldn’t hold out. That swift Freebooters double saw to that, forcing the game down the spot-kicks route after 20 minutes of extra-time passed by tamely.

The penalties saw Freebooters show off their clinical side. The sides were level after two kicks apiece, Kiely stopping Roche’s effort before Roche kept out Sam Watkins’ kick. However, once Kiely made his second save and Ryan Maguire expertly netted his kick, it was advantage Blues - one more Kiely save, and the title was theirs.

Callan United: Dylan Roche, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Luke Komar (Blake Smith, 63 mins), Darren Audoire, Eoin Scriven, Dylan Dunphy, Lee Doheny, Brian Kirwan, Robert Kerwick, Phil Cahill, Keith Fitzpatrick (Bassong Eyong, 74 mins).

Freebooters: Sean Kiely, Soloman Kahlid, Mark O’Neill (Shane Shaughnessy, 71 mins), Declan Wall, Danny Bolger, Shane Maher (Sean Bolger, 52 mins), Alex Conway (Joe Banville, 90 mins), Sam Watkins, Cian Loy, Ryan Maguire, John McEvoy.

Referee: Mitch Corrigan. Linesmen: Eoin Walsh, Nicky Marnell.