Avenue United 4 Cahir Park 1
The Park Youths attempt to reach the final of the Munster Youth Cup came unstuck in Ennis on Sunday with a deserved win for Ennis side Avenue United who now go on to meet Waterford Bohemians in the final. Cahir, as always can be proud of the trojan effort in trying to overcome the illustrious opposition who are still in FAI Under 17 Cup contention.
Played in front of a huge away support - for whom team and management extend big thanks - Cahir matched Avenue ball for ball in the opening quarter with Gearoid Slattery imperious in goal and a back four of Aaron Murphy, Eamon Gleeson, Mikey O’Connor and Keelan Hickey well in control.
Slattery was tested with Daragh Sexton having a good effort saved from a corner on the right. Such set-pieces would later be Cahir’s downfall with three of the four goals coming from corners and a penalty.
One of the Park’s best early efforts came on 12 mins with Stephen Duggan feeding Liam Casey from the right-hand side. Casey then had a shot on target well stopped by Declan Deasy in the Ennis goal.
Many in the crowd looked back fondly on the last time the Park had reached this stage in the competition, that day unfortunately delivering the same outcome.
This tie would spark to life with a 19th penalty awarded by the Limerick referee for handball. Confidently, Paddy O’Malley finished under the body of a diving Slattery.
With the home side on top, the pressure came on Cahir to deliver the goods. This they did but United, with well-timed tackling, were well equal to the effort.
One of Hickey’s trademark frees was wide on 29 mins as the Cahir midfield came more in to the game. Cahirparkafc.com man of the match Dylan Fitzgerald was again the driving force with non-stop running throughout opening up chances for several team-mates. Amongst them was a hard-working Ian Flannery, whose long-range effort on 31 deserved better.
Just after, Duggan whipped a low cross across the box. Unfortunately there was no-one there to meet it.
With a distinct wind advantage in the open Doora field, United took greater advantage and forced a corner on 34 mins. That was delivered in from the left, innocously over defence and potential finishers to be returned from the opposite side. From this cross, Conor O’Brien was on hand to finish a tap-in for one of the easiest goals conceded by the Park this season.
Fitzgerald took up the challenge once again and fed by Niall McKenna, as the half came to an end, Fitzgerald provided a classy cross setting up Duggan at the far post to head inches wide.
Two down at half-time and manager Pakie O’Dwyer and coach Jason Coffey would have to be at their most inspiring to lift the lads. We are however lucky to have had such leadership at our disposal at the moment in the club. All the sadder that the partnership served in their final game together for a while in this game. All at Cahir Park send their best wishes to Pakie and family as they create a new life together abroad.
On the sidelines, the game was dissected by the sizeable Cahir contingent as they sampled fully the hospitality on offer from Avenue and the Clare League - our gratitude to them for a job well done off the field.
Cahir returned a determined outfit and bossed the next twenty mins with Casey and partner-in-crime David Finnane in the heat of the action. With the lively Mikey O’Connor pushed forward, he produced a fine cross-field ball for Fitzgerald on 48. Another accurate cross and the head of Finnane did the rest, the looping header taking some time to find its rightful place behind Deasy in the goal.
The Park pushed on and on in the hope of a deserved equalizer and another Duggan attempt was saved by the keepers feet whilst five mins after, a rasping Casey shot flew just over.
Another looping header on the hour was tipped over for a corner as the Cahir crowd were whipped up to fever pitch.However they were soon stunned into silence with a quick break from the Avenue defence producing a shot on goal which Slattery parried on to the post, the resulting shot blown offside.
Avenue’s style paid dividends and they were buoyed by this effort to create a corner on 68. The inswinging corner from the right found the head of O’Brien again to put United two clear.
With both sides committed to a good footballing performance and with a game free of any great aggressive streak, the class of the Clare lads shone through as they showed some lovely passages of play in the next ten, in the process killing off any good approach work from the Tipperary representatives.
In glimpses, Cahir showed the quality football everyone expected of them but the result became all too predictable as the game wore on. Comfortable on the ball, Ennis were able to add a hardly-deserved fourth with the visiting defence caught away from home allowing Seanie Corry to finish well with three mins to play.
In the process Cahir Park finish their season happy in the knowledge that they could be real contenders in twelve months time with only five of their squad over age. Good luck to Avenue against Bohemians - may the best team take home the Munster Youth Cup for this year.