Bantry Bay Rovers 4
JAMES Desmond netted a hat-trick in Bantry Bay Rovers’ SuperValu West Cork Schoolboys League U16 Cup final win over Ardfield at Lyre.
The U16 age-grade’s season-finale was played on a superb Lyre playing surface, but also on an afternoon where a strong wind made life awkward for both teams.
Ardfield enjoyed the benefit of the elements in the opening half yet were unable to find a way past Bantry’s back four.
Bay Rovers were the better team in the second period and utilised James Desmond’s finishing ability to deny their opponents a U16 league and cup double. Noah Cronin put the seal on a memorable afternoon with a late header before Desmond completed his hat-trick to ensure the trophy returned to Bantry.
Ardfield kicked off as newly crowned Premier League champions and 80 minutes away from adding the U16 Cup to their trophy haul. Both goalkeepers, Jack Enright and Michael Meaney, were busy during a frenetic opening quarter in which Ardfield came closest to scoring through Ciarán Santry and Niall Keane.
Rovers created their fair share of opportunities too with James Desmond and Dara McCarthy denied by Jack Enright. The Ardfield goalkeeper produced a wonderful save to prevent Cillian O’Brien’s long-range attempt from hitting the roof of the net.
Bantry made better use of the wind in the second period, enjoying longer spells of possession thanks to Adam Salter-Townshend and Dara McCarthy’s surges into the final third. Rovers forced a corner five minutes after the restart and James Desmond connected with an in-swinging delivery to open the scoring.
Dara McCarthy had an effort ruled out for offside as an engaging cup final began to open up with Gearoid Cronin and Ben McShane exchanging chances. Ardfield’s inability to conjure up an equaliser was punished when their opponents doubled their advantage courtesy of a beautifully crafted goal.
Michael Meaney made another save and began a counter-attack with an accurate delivery from his own penalty area. Bantry Bay moved the ball to James Desmond who curled a stunning 20-yard shot beyond Jack Enright to make it 2-0.
Ardfield pushed hard to try and find a way back into the cup final but were continually thwarted in their attempts by solid Bantry defending and Michael Meaney’s excellent form between the sticks.
The closing minutes saw a rampant Rovers complete a resounding victory with more goals. First, Noah Cronin connected with a corner and bulleted a header into the top corner for an unassailable 3-0 lead. There was still time for Ardfield to needlessly concede a penalty and James Desmond to complete his hat-trick.
Ardfield: Jack Enright, Annraoi Creedon, Seamus O’Mahony, Rory O’Callaghan, David Price, Tomás Ó Donnabháin, Sean Lawless, Sam Linehan, Niall Keane, Ciarán Santry, Ben McShane, Chinaza Ogwudiegwu, Colin O’Donovan, Adrian Whelton, Declan McPeake, Cormac McCarthy, Barry Walsh.
Bantry Bay Rovers: Michael Meaney, James Crowley, Liam Keohane, Ben Egan, Cillian O’Brien, Cathal Dullea, Gearoid Cronin, Seán Power, Alex Young, Noah Cronin, Dara McCarthy (captain), Adam Salter-Townshend, James Desmond, Christopher O’Sullivan, Fionn Harrington, Robert Cronin.
Referee: John Corcoran.