Evergreen A 6
Freshford Town 2
A BLISTERING START, and a series of cool finishes, ensured Evergreen A brought the Henderson Youths Shield back to the Kells Road on Saturday.
Backboned by a Sean Maguire hat-trick inside 16 minutes, the city side hit Freshford Town with a flurry of goals that left them with one hand on the trophy by half-time at Derdimus.
It didn’t take the winners long to bare their teeth – or take the lead. The game was just six minutes old when Evergreen went in front, Ross King jinking along the endline before pulling a low ball back for Sean Maguire to hammer home from the corner of the six-yard box.
Maguire showed an early liking for the target and almost grabbed a second goal within three minutes. This time the attempt was to put in a cross after he was played into the corner by Tim Kiely-Brennan’s pass, but his delivery clipped the top of the Town crossbar.
Freshford were quick to create some chances of their own. They showed some great composure on the ball, from defence right through to their strikers, with one such move providing a route to the target.
David Weedy and Lachtain Kennedy combined nicely to send Danny Delahunty through, but although his shot took a deflection off Jack McCarthy netminder Craig Cummins was well-placed to stop the 11th minute effort.
Evergreen sat up and took notice of that shot, then went upfield and doubled their tally. Maguire linked up well with strike partner King, who held off the challenging Jamie Burke, then teed up Eoghan Connolly to rifle a sidefoot shot past Chris Hughes.
Now with the bit between their teeth, they moved three clear just four minutes later. Peter Lydon, who proved a real threat from set-pieces all evening, drove in a low corner towards the front post. Maguire was quickest to react, connecting with a stabbed volley that flew into the net.
Evergreen should have had the game wrapped up just 60 seconds later. Picking off Freshford’s kick-off Declan McQuillan cut a path through the centre of the field before working play on to King. His pass out to the flanks was sent back across goal by Kiely-Brennan, but McQuillan blasted wide of the mark.
Freshford may have been down, but they weren’t out. They almost found a way back into the game when Ivor O’Brien sliced Danny Delahunty’s swirling 19th minute corner towards his own goal, but Killian Cantwell saved his colleague with a fine header off the line.
Three minutes minutes later Evergreen all but wrapped up the title. Created by Lydon’s superb dinked pass from midfield Maguire rounded off his treble when he sprang the offside trap and then beat the advancing Hughes with the cheekiest of chip shots from the edge of the box.
Town refused to throw in the towel, and hit back with a fine goal 17 minutes from half-time. Evergreen were sliced open by Weedy’s perfect crossfield ball, the pass carrying just enough weight on it to evade Ivor O’Brien.
Jamie Ryan was quickest to the ball, beating O’Brien in a foot race before firing a first-time shot to the inside of Craig Cummins’ right hand post.
Evergreen refused to let up, and went in search of more goals. Chris Hughes kept them at bay, twice denying Peter Lydon with two superb saves, but he couldn’t prevent King from adding a fifth ten minutes from half-time.
The Lydon-Hughes battle continued into the second half, as Freshford’s netminder pulled off yet more brilliant stops. He tipped another curling Lydon free out for a corner on 53 minutes, then saw the woodwork come to his rescue as Lydon’s resulting corner clattered off the far post.
A battling Freshford did well to get on the scoresheet again when Lachtain Kennedy powered a header home following Delahunty’s 67th minute corner. Evergreen went close at the other end, with Lydon curling a 76th minute free over the Town wall, but again Hughes saved the day when he pushed the ball away from the top left corner of his net.
Lydon was not to be denied, however. The midfielder got the goal his performance deserved seven minutes from time, pouncing on a loose ball after Hughes had made a fine save to deny Maguire his fourth of the evening.
Evergreen A: Craig Cummins (Nathan Owens, 46 mins), Killian Cantwell (Sean Henebry, 58 mins), Ivor O’Brien, Sammy Johnson, Jack McCarthy, Declan McQuillan (Lee Delaney, 70 mins), Tim Kiely-Brennan, Peter Lydon, Ross King, Sean Maguire, Eoghan Connolly.
Freshford Town: Chris Hughes, Simon Randall (Paul Dermody, 81 mins), David Weedy, Jamie Burke, Lachtain Kennedy, James Kenny, Danny Delahunty, Mike Burke, Enda Purcell, Shane Donnelly (George Bassett, 46 mins), Jamie Ryan (Eoin Vaughan, 61 mins).
Referee: Tristan Eardley. Linesmen: Ollie Falsey, Pat Conroy.