FAI SSE Airtricity Under 17 League Semi Final
St. Patrick’s Athletic 0-1 Shamrock Rovers
There was an enormous contrast to the start of the game at Richmond Park this morning to the Under 15 game yesterday when the sun was splitting the trees. Today a heavy and prolonged shower descended on Inchicore before the game making the pitch very greasy. The scenes at the end of the game were in sharp contrast also to yesterday (see the images at the end of the gallery).
The Hoops piled on the pressure right from the word go with James Clarke setting Thomas Oluwa up with a shot in the 6th minute which Saints’ keeper Aaron Davis had to get right down to save. It was St. Pat’s who should have taken the lead though when Ally O’Brien had an open goal at his mercy but overhit his shot and sent it over the bar. Thomas Oluwa was getting plenty of supply on the left for Rovers and although he was continually penetrating the defence he wasn’t getting the strength on the ball at times to produce a goal. Oluwa did feed James Furlong on one occasion but the full back’s shot whizzed past the bottom of the far post.
Brandon Holt for the home side hit the wall with a free kick in the 20th minute and then Kevin O’Reilly made a good run before switching to Brandon Bermingham who forced Gavin Bazunu to make a good save. That was the first time in the game that Bazunu had to make a save as the back four of Alex Dunne, Cian Kelly, Andy Spain and James Furlong were regimentally disciplined throughout. The better chances were being created by the Hoops but they were seeing nothing for this in return in the shape of goals.
The second half started with Oluwa and Danila Bogdanov looking like they had each been given a booster injection. Both combined in the 52nd minute in a move that saw Bogdanov get the ball into the net but the effort was disallowed for offside. The deadlock remained but it was during this period that the Hoops were pouring intense pressure onto their hosts. St. Pat’s made a quick counter attack in the 60th minute but a clinical tackle from Toby Owens quickly brought that to an end. In the 66th minute Martins Olakanye had a good opportunity to get that elusive goal for the Hoops but it didn’t come off for him in the moment. Rovers defended well from two free kicks that St. Pat’s were awarded with Bazunu saving from Darragh Burns’ low effort in the 67th minute. At the other end just a few minutes later it was the Saint’s keeper Aaron Davis who swung into action when he reacted quickly to a header from Conor Behan.
Davis and Oluwa were both injured in a goalmouth scramble but thankfully they were both able to continue. The golden moment came for the Hoops in the 84th minute just after Bermingham clipped the defending wall from a free. Bazunu got down to gather the ball and wasted no time in getting it up the pitch. Bogdanov raced in towards the box and as Davis committed himself on the ground the momentum carried the ball forward with both Jack Kelly and Behan on either side of Davis. Kelly was first to seize on it and smacked the ball into the far corner of the net to put the Hoops into the lead.
Andy Spain was booked for a rash tackle minutes later at the other end and Davis raced up to the Rovers’ box. However, Darragh Burns sent his free kick well wide and that late moment of concern for the Hoops faded. Referee Alan Carey blew for full time soon after that and there could have hardly have been anyone in the ground who wouldn’t have agreed that the Hoops fully deserved to win on their performance throughout the game.
Shamrock Rovers: 1. Gavin Bazunu, 2. Martins Olakanye, 3. Alex Dunne, 4. Andrew Spain, 5. Cian Kelly, 9. Danila Bogdanov, 10. James Clarke, 16. Thomas Oluwa, 17. Jordan Tallon, 19. Toby Owens, 20. James Furlong.
Substitutes: 25. Shane O’Rourke, 6. Conor Behan (for Clarke 70 mins), 7. Dean McMenemy, 11. Jack Kelly (for Olakanye 80 mins) , 14. Emmanuel Odeniyi (for Bogdanov 42 mins).
Report and photos by Robert Goggins