West Cork U13s bow out at All-Ireland semi-final stage
West Cork SL 0
Cavan-Monaghan SL 1
GER McCARTHY REPORTS
THE West Cork U13 Schoolboys’ memorable Subway SFAI Inter-League run came to an end with defeat to Cavan-Monaghan in an All-Ireland Plate semi-final at Canon Crowley Park last Sunday week,
Danny McQueen’s side had already created history by claiming the West Cork Schoolboys League’s first ever inter-league trophy, the SFAI Munster Plate, a fortnight before over Clare in Ennis.
That triumph resulted in an All-Ireland Plate semi-final against Cavan-Monaghan at Drinagh Rangers’ home ground where a superb playing pitch and bumper crowd added to an enthralling encounter.
The Ulster side just about deserved their victory thanks to Niall Meehan’s first-half strike but the girl everyone was talking about at the end of 60 minutes was Bonnie McKiernan.
Cavan-Monaghan’s goalkeeper was the game’s outstanding player and responsible for denying West Cork on multiple occasions. McKiernan’s ability to gather crosses, accurate distribution and shot-stopping skills ensured her side qualified for the Plate final.
At the opposite end, Adam O’Regan had another fine outing in goal for West Cork during a tight game that began with Jack Carolan forcing the hosts’ net-minder into an early save.
The visitors bossed possession for the majority of the opening quarter but solid defending from West Cork’s back four kept an even encounter scoreless. The WCSL slowly grew into the game only to be thwarted by Cavan-Monaghan goalkeeper McKiernan on numerous occasions.
A first half devoid of goals ended in dramatic fashion with Cavan-Monaghan denied an opener by Adam O’Regan’s acrobatic save. Bay Rovers’ Ben O’Sullivan was closely marked throughout the hour but managed to wriggle free and bring the best out of Bonnie McKiernan shortly after.
An opening goal seemed imminent and arrived on the stroke of half time when Niall Meehan slid home Adam Tierney’s flick on to edge Cavan-Monaghan in front. There was still time for Callum McElhinney to thunder an effort off the visitor’s crossbar before the sides changed ends.
West Cork were much improved in the second half, pressing forward in greater numbers and enjoying longer spells of possession. In contrast, Cavan-Monaghan defended deeper but remained a threat on the counter-attack as evidenced by three important Adam O’Regan saves following swift breakaways.
The best chances of a thrilling closing period fell to West Cork with striker Ben O’Sullivan twice bursting through only to force his shots inches past the target. Bonnie McKiernan proved equal to any WCSL efforts that did manage to get on target as well as repeatedly out jumping opponents to gather crosses.
McKiernan’s most important contribution was a terrific point-blank stop to prevent Dan Andrews’ close-range header from nestling in the back of the net with six minutes to go. That was West Cork’s best and last chance of forcing an equaliser.
Although they threw everyone forward deep into injury-time, a levelling goal failed to materialise and Cavan-Monaghan held on for a 1-0 victory.
Despite the loss, this West Cork Schoolboys U13 Inter-League squad has the distinction of going down in history as the region’s first-ever SFAI trophy winners.
West Cork SL: Adam O’Regan, Mikey Orpen, Callum McElhinney, Conor O’Sullivan, Dan Andrews, Tom Ryan-Purcell, Edward Myers, Tom McQueen (captain), Ben O’Sullivan, Tommy O’Sullivan, Darragh Gough.
Subs: Fabian Wadolowski, James McKnight, Colm Hayes, Shane Barry, Peter Craig, Sam Coffey, Evan Fitzpatrick, James O’Donovan.
Cavan-Monaghan SL: Bonnie McKiernan, Ryan Boyle (captain), Declan Lynch, Niall Meehan, Gerard Donohue, Tory McKiernan, Shay Kelly, Senan Mullins, Jack Carolan, Cian Keaney, Dualta Honney.
Subs: Fionan Gallagher, Adam Tierney, Marc Maguire, Kian Hanney.
Referee: John Corcoran.