ST FRANCIS Under-15 held off rivals St Kevin’s in a hotly contested final last Saturday, taking home the latest in a prodigious line of trophies, the Conway Cup.
Francis went into the game on top form, having lost just a single competitive match since November and having seen off many of their DDSL league’s top ranked sides en route to the final. Kevin’s, however, remain a point above them in the DDSL table, and offered more than credible opposition to the Francis charge.
Windy conditions tempered a first half that left Francis disappointed to go in scoreless, with manager Mark Connolly telling GazetteSport: “We felt we were on top, we just weren’t taking our chances. We should have been ahead, really, but it just didn’t happen for us.”
The breakthrough was to come early in the second half. Francis won a dangerous free, which the talented Charlie Barry whipped into the box. A Sam Lennox knock down found Jack Cassidy, who drove the Baldonnel side into a well-deserved lead.
The key moment, though, came when Francis extended their lead midway through the first half. Kevin’s broke through the Francis defence, releasing their striker clean through on goalkeeper Jordan Walker. An equaliser looked all but inevitable.
Instead, Walker pulled off a vital stop, which saw the ball break to the Francis defence. Cian Hughes midfield ball found captain Thomas Caffrey, who beat two men and lashed the ball into the corner of the Kevin’s net, giving Francis what turned out to be a crucial two goal margin.
It wasn’t all celebrations for captain Caffrey, sadly, who was to break his arm shortly after scoring the winner. The captain will miss the rest of the season. With Kevin’s pulling a goal back as Francis reorganised their defence, the final was set to end every bit as tight as the previous two 4-3 results between the clubs would suggest.
An understandable barrage of Kevin’s long balls couldn’t quite fashion an equaliser, however, and left the side in green and white hoops to lap up a 2-1 win and yet another cup victory.
“It’s not just about winning,” Connolly said. “But obviously it drives the boys on. We’ll be looking to win our last few games of the season now, although the league’s already out of reach. With a good run in, we hope we can grab second place.”