Good Evans fires Shels to Leinster Cup retention

by Dave Donnelly
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Adam Evans was the hero for Shelbourne as he kept his nerve in sudden death to retain the Leinster Senior Cup for Shelbourne.

The striker capitalised on a miss from Saints defender Kevin Toner after both sides had scored each of their five originally allotted kicks.

Indeed, Toner would likely not have been taking the penalty at all were it not for the dismissal of Dean Clarke after the winger picked up two yellows in six extra-time minutes.

As it happened, the former Premier League defender’s low shot was comfortably saved by man-of-the-match Lee Steacy in the Shels’ goal, and Evans sent Brendan Clarke the wrong way.

The sides had pushed one another all the way after a tight game was briefly ignited by two goals in the final few minutes of normal time.

Greg Moorhouse headed Owen Heary’s Shels side into the lead six minutes from time before Achille Campion levelled with a pinpoint header in injury time.

Both sides began at a furious pace but the game soon settled into a predictable pattern of Saints possession against the home side’s high press.

Pats, led by caretaker boss Ger O’Brien following the departure of Liam Buckley during the week, stuck with the three-man defensive line that proved their undoing last week against Bohs.

They would have the better chances in both halves, however, as the excellent Lee Desmond showed fans why they should be excited to see him sign a new two-year deal. The Saints forced three top-class stops from Steacy in the Reds’ net, with captain Ian Bermingham twice denied on his return to the side.

Jake Keegan was the first to go close just past the half-hour as he got on the end of Bermingham’s cross, but the keeper was at full stretch to save.

Bermingham then directed a header into the top corner that Steacy somehow managed to claw away four minutes after the break.

Then came what looked like a turning point just before the hour as James English was awarded a penalty when Jamie Lennon handled his shot in the box.

The former Darndale man stepped up himself but his low penalty was a nice height and distance for Brendan Clarke to get his hands to.

Steacy was called back into action shortly after and his best save of the lot denied Bermingham again when the wing back’s header seemed to already be lodged in the corner of the net.

And, having absorbed all the pressure, Shels took the lead against the run of play as Lorcan Fitzgerald’s deep cross was nodded home by Moorhouse at the back post.

That looked to be that for the reigning champions, but Campion’s expertly arced his header in off the post to send the game to extra time.

Dean Clarke then saw red for two needless fouls on the left and, though Shels pressed, the game finished all square and penalties were required.

There was more drama as Brendan Clarke dispatched a beautiful penalty before Steacy looked to have denied Campion from 12 yards.

Referee Derek Dunne called it back and booked the keeper for coming off his line, and the Frenchman scored the retake.

And so it went to sudden death and it was Toner who blinked first, before Evans showed composure to slot home his kick and send the large crowd wild.

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