AFTER an entertaining and wholehearted McCalmont Cup final in Derdimus on Sunday, Freebooters took the honours and moved ahead in the Roll of Honour when they scored their 14th title.
Evergreen lost out on the league and cup double as the junior soccer programme in Kilkenny wound down for the 2010/2011 season.
Dessie Hayes was the hero. Hee grabbed both Freeobboters goals, and he was unquestionably the outstanding player on view.
His first goal came as early as the fourth minute and it was breathtaking in its beauty. Hayes found himself in possession about 30 yards from goal, in a central position.
The ball hung in mid-air. Hayes brilliantly struck with a wonderful thunderbolt volley that rifled the ball beyond the hapless Pierce Dargan in the Evergreen goal. What a moment!
Apart from his golden brace of goals, Hayes was brilliant in his every play as he ran opponents ragged and caused all sorts of problems.
Evergreen responded well and drew level in the 13th minute. A corner was followed by persistant pressure before Brian Jordan struck a low shot from inside the edge of the 18 yard box to the net.
Paul O’Brien was a livewire from setpieces, and in the 21st minute, his well direct free-kick forced Pierce Dargan into making the save. Jamie Owens fired a free-kick wide of goal for Evergreen in the 31st minute, before Booters responded when Damien Raggett’s low-cross found Derek Brennan. Dargan was forced into a reaction save in the 34th minute.
The resulting corner saw Evergreen surge forward on the counter attack and 16-year-old All-Ireland youths inter-league hat-trick winning hero, Sean Maguire found himself in space. He elected to shoot first-time, but his shot was brilliantly stopped by Freebooters netminder, Graham Doyle.
In the 41st minute Dessie Hayes found himself clear through on goal, but his shot, despite having an open goal in front of him, went wide of the target. However, Hayes made amends moments later.
Beat offside trap
A long ball played out of defence saw Hayes beat the offside trap. He was clean through on goal once again.
Dargan committed himself to coming off his line. Hayes stayed composed and slipped his shot (via a little deflection off Dargan) to the bottom right hand corner.
Booters held the initative at the interval, and in truth they were looking the more fresher and more hungrier for victory. They felt themselves that they didn’t do justice in their league defeat on the Kells Road 10 days ago. They were on a revenge mission.
Hayes almost completed his hat-trick in the 53rd minute. A long ball played out of defence by Derek Brennan saw Pierce Dargan come well off his goal-line. Hayes found himself with another clear path on goal.
He was deemed guilty of an infringement, but he was off target anyway as his shot hit the side netting.
Both sides started to ring the substitutions, with Evergreen introducing All-Ireland youths winning captain Declan McQuillan, Oisin Corr and later Vincent O’Brien. Booters brought on Ger Hayes, Eamonn Lester and Martin Doyle.
Booters enjoyed a spell of dominance around the hour mark.
The best chance arrived when Paul O’Brien’s corner saw Eddie Clifford header wide of goal. Niall Andrews had a headed goal ruled out for offside in the 74th minute, while a well struck Jamie Owens free-kick a minute later saw Graham Doyle dive low to his left and save.
Booters felt they could have had a penalty when Dessie Hayes raced away from a defender and into the penalty area. He slipped but referee Nicky Marnell ruled no contact made had been made.
Evergreen finished the match with 10 men when Robbie Quane was rather harshly dismissed in injury-time for what was deemed a lunging tackle.
Booters held out and deservedly had their day in the sun.
Hayes was the star man, but the excellent goalkeeping of Graham Doyle, Derek Brennan and James Kelly in defence, along with the industrial Eamonn Lester when introduced, and the threat posed by Paul O’Brien proved central to Booters victory as they added the McCalmont Cup to the Pat Maher Shield won earlier in the year.
Evergreen certainly felt the effects following their league victory. They didn’t perform or produce anywhere near the levels displayed when beating their city rivals to league glory 10 days.
The two city teams continue to dominate local honours in Kilkenny, and there is little evidence of that changing in the near future.
Freebooters - Graham Doyle, Michael Falsey (capt), Derek Brennan, James Kelly, Wilo Flood (Martin Doyle 70 minutes), John Hayes (Eamonn Lester 59 minutes), Eddie Clifford, Paul O’Brien, Greg Morton, Dessie Hayes, Damien Raggett(Ger Hayes 55 minutes),
Evergreen - Pierce Dargan, Tommy Earls, Mark Andrews, Robbie Quane, Michael Cashin (Vinny O’Brien 83 minutes), Mark Cashin (Deckie McQuillan 53 minutes), Brian Jordan, Niall Andrews(captain), Chris Whearty(Oisin Corr 56 minutes), Sean Maguire, Jamie Owens,
Referee: Nicky Marnell.
Linesmen: Tom Walsh, Pat O’Connor.
Fourth official: Tristan Eardley