COMPETITION newcomers Templeogue College reached the final of the Umbro FAI Schools Minor All-Ireland Cup at the first attempt as they saw off St Clare’s College, Ballyjamesduff in the semi-final last week in Oriel Park, Dundalk.]
The Ulster outfit put in a solid defensive display which was eventually broken down with goals coming either side of their own. Cavan shot stopper Oisin Kiernan had an outstanding performance and the game could have had a few more goals only for his heroics between the sticks.
But he was beaten early on as pressure from the Leinster side paid off after only six minutes when Ryan Meaney picked out Daragh O’Shea in the middle of the park and he sent Sam Howard through on goal. He let fly across the keeper with a powerful strike for a dream start.
It looked like the Dublin side might run away with the game only for a strong team performance from St Clare’s who did find their feet as the game wore on.
James Clarke’s side levelled on 17 minutes when Adam O’Connor sent a free kick from his own half into the opposition box which wasn’t defended and Nathan Kiernan pounced to strike home from close range.
It meant a previously one-sided affair was now back in the balance and it remained level at half-time as Matthew McMenamin’s 35th minute strike was ruled out for offside.
Templeogue started the second half in a similar vein to the first with lively attacking play, Jack Ryan and Howard combining well throughout the game.
Kiernan was called into action on 39 minutes when Dylan Reilly let fly after a good pass from Ryan only to draw an excellent save.
Fifty-six minutes in and St Clare’s had a wonderful chance to take the lead when a defensive error from the Templeogue defence led to the ball crossing the face of goal which fell to Aaron Reilly who could only hit it straight at keeper Emmett Byrne.
The Cavan school threatened again two minutes later with Gavin Tierney, playing the ball to James Smith, sent the ball into the box only for it to be cleared off the line by Templeogue’s Ross Dunphy
Reilly played a beautifully weighted ball into the six-yard box for James Smith volley to be tame.
This proved to be a crucial point in the game as Templeogue counter attacked immediately with super sub Stephen Cooke the one who finished off the move with a tidy finish past the Cavan keeper
Cavan had one final chance to draw level which fell to the lively Reilly who just couldn’t find his scoring boots.
Templeogue emerged victorious and their midfield dominance and creativity courtesy of O’Shea will give them a huge lift towards taking home the All-Ireland crown for the first time in the school’s history.
Cavan had the better chances but Templeogue just had that finishing touch which proved crucial.