Nerves of steel helped the Freebooters under-14s add a silver finish to their season.
The city side were on the spot when it mattered most, converting all their penalties as they beat Southend United in a shoot out to lift the Declan Fennelly Cup.
The last of the schoolboys cup finals, Monday evening’s game in Derdimus was a closely-fought affair. Neither side yielded an inch, the teams giving their all in search of a goal that could have settled matters without penalties.
When it came to the spot-kicks, called for after 90 goal-less minutes, the Blues were clinical. Adam Morrissey netted the first before Southend netminder Dean Mason saw his kick clip the inside of the right post, run along the goal line and stay out.
Once the advantage was in their hands Freebooters didn’t let it go. Dylan Gleeson and Jason Devereux both converted their kicks, as did Success Edogun and Eoin Cody. The Blues had one hand on the cup when Liam Smith fired his penalty high into the top right corner, then sealed the title when ’keeper Kealen Coyne stopped Justin Cahill’s effort with his feet.
It was a harsh way to lose a final, but Southend can be proud of the way they gave their all. The Ballyhale boys showed plenty of promise early on, going close with a menacing Adam Masood cross that flashed in front of goal before the same player’s wicked 23rd minute free-kick was deflected out for a corner.
Freebooters grew into the game more as the half wore on, but just like their rivals they couldn’t break the deadlock. Dean Mason was the cause of their problems, the Southend goalkeeper making fine saves to deny lively duo Oisin Griffin and Owen Dowling.
Southend upped their game in the second half, but the Freebooters goal led a charmed life. Masood thumped a powerful 45th minute shot off the bar, while Kealen Coyne made a spectacular save to stop Jason Devereux’s 65th minute snapshot.
Southend could have settled the game in stoppage time. Skipping past his marker Masood threaded a low ball across goal for Eoin Cody, but he couldn’t keep his volleyed sidefoot shot on target.
The Blues had chances to nick it in extra-time, but a Mason save denied Liam Stynes, while Success Edogun’s looping shot flashed wide. However, they were on target when it came to penalties.
Freebooters: Kealen Coyne, Dylan Gleeson, Adam Morrissey, Justin Cahill, Liam Stynes, Eoghan Moylan, Owen Dowling (Liam Smith, 55 mins), Divine Amaukwy, Oisin Griffin, Success Edogun, Sean Comerford (Oisin Murphy, 82 mins).
Southend United: Dean Mason, Hussain Masood, Richie Cody, Darragh Corcoran, Eoin Walsh, Jason Devereux, Adam Masood, Jake O’Dwyer, John Shortall (Conor Doyle, 36 mins), Eoin Cody, Chris Cody (Liam Barron, 58 mins).
Referee: Eoin Walsh. Linesmen: James Dunne, Pat O’Connor.