FAI SSE Airtricity League Under 15 League Semi Final
St. Patrick’s Athletic 2 – 1 Shamrock Rovers
The Hoops were left shattered on a sun-drenched late October Saturday morning at Richmond Park after they failed to take advantage of playing against a Saints’ team that had been reduced to 10 players just a minute into the second half. In fact, for a lot of the second half one had to wonder which team was playing a man down. The game remained was delicately poised right up to the end but it was some turnaround by the Saints considering they trailed by a goal before the dismissal.
The first serious chance fell to the home side when Hoops’ keeper Killian Cahill got down to save from Cian Kavanagh. That was followed soon after by a super ball from Oisin Hand delivered deep into the Pat’s half and aimed for Armstrong but the big Rovers’ striker couldn’t keep it from going over the end line. Two minutes later and there was an identical move started by Hand and this time it was Roland Banya who couldn’t quite make it after midfielder Kyle O’Connor had added to it.
Rovers went ahead in the 16th minute when Armstrong came out of a duel and found himself with plenty of room to turn and drive the ball past Morgan Rice in the Saints goal. That sparked off a great goal celebration but unfortunately that was to be as good as it got for the Hoops. There was absolute drama in the 26th minute when Adam Wells pushed Ross Fay over in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Cahill guessed correctly and managed to save. It looked like Fay would finish the job though when he pounced on the loose ball but he could only look on in aghast as his hit the second bite of the cherry off of the post. That was a serious let off for Rovers who continued to lead at half time.
There was further drama in just the second minute of the second half when the Saints were dealt a horror blow with the showing of a red card for an over zealous challenge on Conan Noonan who required treatment from the physio. Noonan was able to continue though and his 46th minute corner provided a brilliant chance for the Hoops to extend their lead but Rice was in the perfect spot to gather from a strike by Wells. Two minutes later Pat’s were level after Kian Corbally cut in on Rovers’ right and struck from a narrow angle for the equaliser. Again, Rovers had a great chance to double their score in the 58th minute when Hand brought off a super save from Rice but immediately the home side broke away and mounted an attack that caught the Hoops’ defence off balance; the end result of this was a fine goal from Kenny Lee who beat Cahill, who had come racing off his line, to put his side 2-1 ahead. The Pat’s fans in the stand erupted; they knew their side had come back from the dead.
Despite having to make up for the absence of a man, Pat’s never relented. They played as though they had a full compliment on the pitch. Time was ticking away and the Hoops didn’t seem to know how to use the advantage they had in terms of numbers. Apart from a late brief flurry, they never upped the ante. They have played the best football in the league this year but there are times when such a style needs to be compromised in face of impending elimination. Today was most certainly one of those times.
The problem for Rovers though was that they simply don’t know how to play anything other than classy, stylish football. They have been a joy to watch throughout the season but it is a pity they won’t have any silverware to show for their endeavours.
Hats off to the Pat’s side. Their heads could have dropped early in the second half but that goal they got back quickly gave them belief. It was a really tough task for them but they showed they sincerely wanted it. Good luck to the Saints in the final.
Shamrock Rovers: 1. Killian Cahill, 2. Matthew Scott, 3. Jamie Callaghan, 4. Oisin Hand, 5. Adam Wells, 6. Evan Caffrey, 7. Roland Banya, 8. James Harold, 9. Sinclair Armstrong, 10. Kyle O’Connor, 11. Conan Noonan.
Substitutes: 14. Kevin Platon (for Banya 79 mins), 15. Nathan Anyanwu (for Scott 66 mins), 16. Charlie Gallagher (for Sinclair 70 mins), 17. Victory Aibange (for O’Connor 75 mins), 18. Sami Clarke, 25. Kian Moore.
Report and photos by Robert Goggins