A Paul Deasy penalty in the second period of extra time was enough to give the Cork City Under 20 side a narrow win over Bohemians in O’Shea Park, Blarney on Sunday evening.
Team captain Brian Murphy became the first player to lift the Dr. Tony O’Neill Cup as Under 20 League of Ireland winners in the competition’s inaugural year. Cillian Lordan was the last City player to lift the trophy back in 2003 as club captain in the days of the old Under 21 league.
The final proved to be a very tight affair, with both defences on top, and the prospect of the game going all to way to a penalty shoot out looked on the cards until Paul Deasy’s intervention in the 104th minute. Liam Murphy stuck to the same starting eleven that beat Dundalk in the semi final the previous weekend. Ian Turner held his place in the centre of defence, with Gavin Walsh, returning from suspension, having to be content with a place on the bench. In a frantic first half, there were very few clear cut chances as both sides matched each other well. Daniel Egan came closest to giving the visitors the lead in the 12th minute when his run in behind the defence forced City ‘keeper, Kieran McEnery, to react quickly to block his effort. City’s best chance of the opening period came when an Eoin Forde free kick late in the half forced Paul Hunt in the Bohemians goal to make a tip over save.
The game opened up somewhat in the second half, and it was Bohemians who came closest to breaking the deadlock. Man of the match Kevin Dawson played a superb ball in behind Ian Turner, and the always lively Steven Cummins shot across McEnery, only to see his effort come back off the far post. With a minute remaining in normal time, an audacious Eoin Kilcommons back heel from a dangerous Paul Deasy cross from the right nearly settled the game in City’s favour, but instead went narrowly wide. There was still time for central defender Patrick Collins to receive his second yellow for upending an impressive Eoin Forde run just outside the Bohs penalty area.
All the drama was saved for the second period of extra time. A City attack saw Eddie Carroll upended by Ryan McEvoy in the penalty area, and referee Graham Kelly had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. City’s leading scorer for the season, Paul Deasy, saw Hunt in the Bohemians goal get his hand to his penalty, forcing it onto the underside of the crossbar and rebounding over the line. The referee, after consulting with his assistant, confirmed the goal. Bohemians protests saw a second player receive his marching orders as City held on for the remaining few minutes to claim the narrowest of wins.
This victory will serve as significant boost to the club in advance of the upcoming senior season in March. With the majority of the side having progressed through the Under 17’s and Youth team ranks, this victory will prove particularly satisfying for all involved in the clubs underage structure. Many of the squad will hopefully progress further and make the breakthrough to the senior and A championship sides. For now, they can celebrate a job well done.
Cork City: Kieran McEnery, Eddie Carroll, Brian Murphy, Ian Turner, Kevin Long, Eoin Forde, Alan Quill (Sean Stokes), Rob Waters, Rory Kiely, Craig Duggan (Eoin Kilcommons), Paul Deasy.
Subs not used: Darren Cotter, Gavin Walsh, Eamon Fitzgerald.
Click Here for photos of the game, which were taken by Damien Quirke.