(AET – Freebooters won 6-5 on pens)
SUPER ’keeper Sean Kiely was the man of the moment as Freebooters got their hands on the Under-14 Cup.
The goalkeeper made two great saves in a penalty shoot-out as the Blues completed the second leg of a league and cup double at Derdimus on Sunday.
Kiely’s first act was to keep his side in the game, diving to his right to save Aidan Tuohy’s spot kick, the tenth and final of the regulation penalties.
Then, with the sides locked at 5-5, Kiely watched as team-mate Billy Ryan scored for Booters before going back between the sticks to stop Ben Hickey’s kick and win the spoils.
’Booters had the first chance of the game, and almost grabbed the opening goal through it. Dean Cornally created the opening, whipping in a ball for Michael Phelan but the striker glanced his eighth minute header wide of the mark.
He did even better 60 seconds later. Racing on to Eoin Delaney’s long ball, Phelan won a 50/50 tussle with goalkeeper Darren Brennan before finishing to an empty net.
Fired up by that goal ’Booters, who had a real star in defender Kieran Banville, pushed on for a second goal. Delaney was at the heart of their next chance when picked out Luke Scanlon, but his 14th minute shot was brilliantly stopped by Brennan. They went close again when Cornally’s corner was met by Gavin Clifford, but his header bounced up into the ’keeper’s arms.
The chances continued to fall Freebooters’ way, but they couldn’t add to their one-goal lead. They went close, really close, to grabbing a second nine minutes from half-time when Phelan beat defender Ross Wallace to the ball and looped a header over the outrushing Brennan, but Eoin Kelly got back in time to hack the ball off the line.
Those missed chances came back to haunt the leaders when Evergreen drew level within 30 seconds of the restart. Ben Hickey exploded into action, picking up possession before sprinting down the right, then squaring the ball for Aidan Tuohy to ram into the roof of the net.
After that it was the turn of both goalkeepers to keep their sides in the game. Luke Scanlon pounced on a loose ball on 37 minutes, but his shot was well held by Brennan. Play swung down the other end within minutes, Eoin McGovern splitting the Blues defence with a fine ball for Tuohy to run on to, but Kiely moved quickly off his line to smother the danger.
Neither side could find a winner in normal time after that, nor through the 20 minutes of extra-time. The stalemate remained through penalties, as the sides were locked at 4-4 through the opening eight kicks – Dean Cornally, Michael Phelan, Gavin Clifford and David Doyle struck for ’Booters, Mark Slater, Eoin McGovern, Robbie Hennessy and Jordan Conroy hitting the target for Evergreen.
The game looked to have swung Evergreen’s way when Brennan saved Ross Wallace’s penalty but Kiely, who had guessed the right way for several kicks, dived to his right to stop Aidan Tuohy’s penalty and send the tie to sudden death.
Accurate kicks from Conor Browne and Huw Lawlor kept the drama going, before Billy Ryan made it advantage ’Booters with a shot low to the left. After that, it was Kiely’s turn to make the save that sealed the trophy.
Freebooters: Sean Kiely, Kieran Banville (Alan Phelan, 68 mins), Conor Browne, Billy Ryan, Danny Bolger, Luke Scanlon, Gavin Clifford, Dean Cornally, Michael Phelan, Adam Butler (David Doyle, 40 mins), Eoin Delaney.
Evergreen: Darren Brennan, Jordan Conroy, Eoin Kelly, Huw Lawlor, Ross Wallace, Mark Slater, Aidan Tuohy, Eoin McGovern, Darby Muamba (Dushan Rabat, 68 mins), Ben Hickey, Robbie Hennessy.
Referee: Pat Conroy. Linesmen: Eoin Walsh, Pat O’Connor.