A brace of second half goals proved the difference as Evergreen got their hands on the Brendan Lonergan Under-16 Cup.
Much like the meeting of their under-17 counterparts, the clash of Evergreen and Freebooters was a keenly-fought affair which exploded into life with a quick attack.
Collecting a long ball out of defence, Peter Henebry used his pace and strength to muscle past the teak-tough Tarvine Wallace and skip to the endline. He arrowed a low ball across the goalmouth, the pace taking it past defenders before Rory Whyte arrived at the back post to add a composed finish.
Breaking the deadlock lifted Monday’s final at Derdimus to another level. Both sides started in solid fashion, showing they had plenty of ball players, but neither could get the upper hand.
Spurred on by solid performances from Edward Moylan and Liam Rafter the Blues began to get on top, but couldn’t turn chances into goals. Rafter hammered a long range effort at the target, but Adam Garret watched the shot all the way. Rafter also started another move, one which saw the effective Eoin Wall and Eoin Kelly link up to send the impressive Andy Walsh careering through, but again Garret did well to stop the 32nd minute shot.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic, however, as Evergreen roared back into contention. Seizing on an attempted Freebooters clearance Rory Whyte did well to knock the ball down for the incoming Henebry, but his shot whistled wide.
Henebry had another pop at the target before the interval. Working a quick free-kick routine with the busy Christian Lapuste, Henebry curled the ball beyond the wall, but Stephen Scallon got down smartly to make a solid save with 35 minutes on the clock.
’Booters made a strong charge before the break, but couldn’t sneak a lead goal. Karl Conlon showed bravery to win a crunching challenge, then used his pace to charge forward and work a one-two with Wall, but Niall Lynam made a telling block.
Evergreen had to endure a nervy finish to the first half, but they looked a different side after the restart. Stepping up a gear they went for an early goal, almost grabbing one when Tommy Byrne connected with Adam Power’s 49th minute corner, but a blanket effort from the ’Booters defence stopped the header from hitting the net.
The Blues had no such luck a few minutes later when Whyte struck the opener. From there the tempo of the game changed, as Freebooters searched for a way back.
They thought they had found their equaliser when, with 16 minutes to play, Eoin Wall broke into the box but Power made a perfectly-timed tackle to whip the ball away. Wall tried his luck again when the resulting corner dropped at his feet, but his lob cleared the bar.
Evergreen rode out the storm after that, sealing victory in stoppage time. Henebry was to the fore, collecting a Morgan Thomas knock-down and sprinting through to slip a cool finish past Scallon.
Evergreen: Adam Garret, Ben Lawlor, Adam Power, Joe Sinnott, Niall Lynam, Sam Hickey, Tommy Byrne (Aidan O’Sullivan, 80 mins), Rory Whyte (Morgan Thomas, 58 mins), Peter Henebry, Christian Lapuste, Jeff Kealy-Brennan (Shane McGeary, 68 mins).
Freebooters: Stephen Scallon, Joe Banville, Karl Conlon, Edward Moylan, Tarvine Wallace, Liam Rafter (Kevin Murphy, 73 mins), Sean Bolger, Jack Smith, Andy Walsh (Brian O’Neill, 58 mins). Eoin Wall, Eoin Kelly (David Girad, 62 mins).
Referee: Pat O’Connor. Linesmen: Eoin Walsh, James Dunne.
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