Sheriff shoot down Rangers

by Stephen Findlater
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RIVERVALLEY Rangers came as close as anyone in the AUL this season to ousting Sheriff YC but eventually saw their Nivea Cup bid come undone on penalties.
They took the lead early on as Gavin Whelan tucked away a second minute penalty after Paul Currivan was fouled to put the Swords side in front.
Sheriff controlled most of the first half possession while Rivervalley held much of the threat on the counter-attack. John Lester, though, levelled the tie for Sheriff from another penalty to make it 1-1 and that was the way it stayed all the way through to full-time and 20 minutes of extra time.
At half-time, Rivervalley changed things up and a formation tweak put them on the front foot when legs got tired.
Indeed, they missed some glorious chances through Karl Young, Brendan Turley and Ruari Deasey that could have won it, putting it up to the best intermediate side in the country who were looking to add to their FAI Junior Cup and Liddy Cup successes.
That trio were excellent during the game as were Ian Doran and Philly McCabe as they sought a famous victory. The shoot-out, however, proved Rangers’ undoing as Lee Murphy made two key saves from four spot kicks to keep the Swords’ men at bay.
The goalkeeper had also been pivotal in the semi-final against Hardwicke in a shoot-out the previous Tuesday to reach this stage. For Rivervalley, they had been waiting the guts of three weeks for the match, something that left them motivated to make their mark in the final but they fell 4-2 on penalties to miss out on being the first AUL side to beat Sheriff in any competition.
They had a second chance to record that feat within two days in their last AUL Premier A match of the campaign but the energy was run out of their legs and Sheriff prevailed 4-0 in Swords.
The result meant Sheriff completed their fourth title of the season while Rivervalley needed a win to avoid possible relegation.
They ended eighth in the nine-team division and have been informed they could go down in the league reshuffle, though quite what that means in light of several defections from the AUL to the Leinster Senior League remains to be seen.
For the management team of Stephen Doran, Mark O’Brien and Ciaran Hughes, it was the end of an era as they stepped down from leading the side. They took the club from AUL Senior Sunday to Premier A, winning two league titles and a Mullion Cup en route as well as going on three memorable FAI Junior Cup runs, something the club will remember for a long time.

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