East End United A 0
Freebooters A 5
FREEBOOTERS A team hit top gear on Sunday as they kept pace with rivals Evergreen A in the race for the Premier Division title.
The Blues upped the tempo long enough to grab a glut of goals in 10 minutes, a spell that was enough to see off East End United in Bennettsbridge.
The real hammer blow for the hosts came in the dying seconds of the opening half. Under pressure from a corner, goalkeeper Patrick O’Neill seemed to have things under control as Brian Lannon’s attempted headed clearance spun towards him. Disaster struck, however, as the ball spilled loose at the last second and across the line.
It was cruel on United who, although a goal down from early on, had started to work their way back into the game.
’Booters were quick to show their teeth, creating a quality chance inside five minutes. Young midfielder Jack Deegan picked his spot in the far corner of the East End net, but O’Neill got down smartly to claw the ball away from its intended target.
The city side kept going at full pace, grabbing the lead just 120 seconds later. Having cleared their lines after Damien Raggett’s free-kick clattered off the bar, East End failed to react from the resulting corner. Ger Hayes and Michael Comerford were alert, taking a quick set-piece before teeing up Neil Murtagh to drill a low shot under O’Neill.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between in the opening half, but East End almost snatched an equaliser on the quarter hour. James Brennan worked an opening for Brian Lannon, who fired off a quick shot from a tight angle, but Donal Brennan reacted in time to push the ball to safety.
The second half was only a matter of minutes old before Freebooters had made the points safe. Ger Hayes helped himself to the third goal, connecting with a thundering left foot volley that flew into the net from the edge of the box.
By the 54th minute it looked to be game over. Michael Comerford profited from Greg Morton’s excellent defence-splitting diagonal pass. Comerford’s first touch was to control the ball; his second was to smash an unstoppable shot inside the left post.
As ’Booters took their foot off the gas East End found room to create some chances of their own. Paul Murphy sent a cracking 55th minute shot whistling wide of the post while Donal Brennan had to be at his best to stop a Brian Lannon free three minutes later, the netminder showing a strong right hand to turn the ball over the bar when it seemed destined for the top right corner of the net.
Freebooters added to their lead with the final strike six minutes from time. Once more Comerford was on target, the strong-running midfielder racing on to Conor Keane’s low cross before tucking home a cool sidefoot shot.
East End United A: Patrick O’Neill, Robbie Ryan, Tommy Jordan, David Dowling, Wayne Clowry (Danny Kinsella, 69 mins), Mick O’Neill, James Brennan (Mark Dowling, 75 mins), Nicky Cleere, Paul Murphy, Brian Lannon, Sid Kelly.
Freebooters A: Donal Brennan, Ger Hayes (Diarmuid Ryan, 85 mins), Paul O’Brien, Michael Falsey, Derek Brennan, Neil Murtagh, Michael Comerford, Jack Deegan (Aaron Molloy, 81 mins), Greg Morton, Damien Raggett, Conor Keane.
Referee: Pat O’Connor.