THE All-Ireland and treble dream went up in smoke in frustrating fashion when a contentious Liam Brady effort gave Cherry Orchard victory over Lucan United at Home Farm last Sunday.
Lucan piled forward in the closing stages, led from the front by the impressive Conor Masterson, but found Cherries’ goalkeeper David Craddock in inspired form, his stunning late save from Sean Quinn ensuring there was to be no recourse to extra time.
Having annexed the league cup last week and still in with a shout of landing the DDSL U-15 Michael McKiernan Premier league, Lucan have been enjoying a fine season but they took a while to settle in this final.
When they did, Masterson was to the fore, breaking down the left before pulling back into Quinn’s path who drilled a low shot goalward. Paddy Woodgate managed to scramble to clear acrobatically off the goal line, however.
The Cherries were controlling more of the ball but, on the counter, Lucan always had plenty of options with Abbey Olojede providing the foil for Masterson. The rangy striker stung Craddock’s palms with a left-foot rasper before Brady curled a free kick onto the post via Mark Travers’ full length, diving palm.
It left a lively first half scoreless, ratcheting up the tension for the second period. The game was defined in the 48th minute when Craddock’s lengthy clearance bounced behind the last line of Lucan defence.
Travers came out to meet the ball at the same time as Brady leapt. The goalkeeper appeared to catch the ball before the midfielder collided with him, but no whistle came and the ball popped out invitingly for the midfielder to roll home.
It was a hammer blow, but Lucan rallied well with Masterson twisting past two men down the right flank and pulling back for sub Joel Bekombe. He met the ball well but Woodgate blocked the effort well before a Masterson bullet was stopped by Craddock.
He did likewise to stop Quinn’s rocket with six minutes of normal time remaining, while Brandon Payne’s trickery almost created the equaliser amid a mid-box melee.
In injury time, Lucan almost had their lifeline when Masterson and Olojede combined before the former was adjudged to have been fouled just outside the box.
Payne could not find a route through the nine-man wall and Cherry Orchard held on for the All-Ireland title.