Leinster Junior Cup Final
by Jonny Stapleton
SERIAL silverware plunders Sheriff once again danced to Queen’s “We are the Champions” as the proved themselves Kings of Leinster Junior football.
‘The Hoops’ steam rolled Bangor Celtic to retain the Leinster Junior Cup in Dalymount Park on Friday night.
The reigning FAI Junior Cup and AUL Premier A Champions were in seventh heaven as they routinely dispatched a young Bangor side
and put further pressure on club officials to rebuild a bulging trophy cabinet.
John Rock grabbed the headlines and the man of the match award in what was probably the most one sided final ever to be played
on the famous ground thanks to a brilliantly dispatched hat trick.
It looked like men against boys from the off as Sheriff once again only looked Junior in name. Indeed Bangor’s looked over awed from the start afforded Sheriff the respect they would Dalymount residents Bohemians.
They sat deep and they were more content to put their foot through than on the ball.
But for for some Philp Fahey saves early on the Iveagh Grounds outfit would have found themselves trailing before 15 minutes. The Bangor captain saved with legs as John Rock tried to put the finishing touches on a neat move involving Keith Dunne, Darren Dunne, Steven Larkin and Kevin Lynch.
Just three minutes later the net minder was forced to palm away a Kevin Lynch effort. Sheriff continued to push with John Lester pulling the strings from deep and all but two defenders pushed forward trying to take advantage.
The pressure finally told and the dead lock was broken on 17 minutes. Seconds after John Scott blocked Kevin Lynch’s shot on the line the midfielder was heading home. The ball was only cleared as far as Larkin and he dug out an inviting cross which Lynch nodded home.
Sean Murphy then attempted a Bangor response and floated a free into Aiden McGrane’s hands, but it wasn’t long before the AUL Champion’s were further ahead.
Three Bangor players tried to play off side as Antony Kavanagh’s clearance made it’s away into opposition teritory, one however stayed at home and last seasons AUL Premier A top scorer Rock took full advantage beating the keeper to the ball and delightfully lifting over him into the empty net.
The Alan O’Reilly managed side all but ended the game as a contest five minutes later and just 27 minutes into the game as Sean Murphy made it three when finishing off a move he started.
The winger beat his man fed inside to Keith Dunne, the striker thought about shooting but played a reverse pass into Murphy who finished under pressure from the advancing keeper and the full back from six yards.
Bangor were really struggling to get out of their own half and a Fionn O’Tighearnaigh run, which was eventually stopped on the 18 yard line was all their supports had to get up off their Dalymount Park seats for.
Bangor made it to the half just three behind and showed a bit more adventure early in the second half. Any, revival hope was quickly extinguished on just 53 minutes, when Darren Dunne found Kevin Lynch on the left hand side of the box and the midfielder doubled his tally.
Kevin Lynch played in Larkin in the box, the winger flicked on to Rock, the striker steadied himself bought half a yard and riffled home near post to increase the advantage.
The Sheriff onslaught couldn’t be arrested and they popped the cork early producing champagne football on the pitch. Fahey twice denied Lynch his hat trick as ‘The Hoops’ went for the juglar. The Keeper first blocking at the man of the match contenders feet after Darren Dunne put him one on one, before brilliantly stopping a top corner bound free.
Fahey had no chance of stopping Rock securing his treble just minutes later, however. The striker had the chance to burst down the left flank, but that seemed too much work, so he cut back on to his right foot made his way across the box and delicately curled into the top right hand corner on the hour mark.
It wasn’t to be final fantasy four for the veteran goal scorer as he was taken off just just three minutes later much to the relief of the LSL Saturday side’s players and supporters.
Both sides made changes and with the result a fore gone conclusion they remaining half an hour adopted a friendly feel, albeit Sheriff being less friendly as they continued to dominate.
Right back Jamie Cox did flirt with registering a consolation effort but fired over from inside the area, but it was Joe Flood who put the icing in the cake. Flood rolled under the keeper from ten yards with virtually the last kick of the game.
Man of the Match: John Rock: His parents joked Kevin Lynch was a man of the match shoe in come full time and the midfielder put up a strong argument with two goal display, but you can’t hit a final hat trick and not get the gong. Rock had them rolling in the stands with a brilliantly taken hat trick and could have hit more if he wasn’t taken off as early as 62 minutes.
Sheriff YC: Aiden McGrane, Paul Murphy, Joseph O’Neill, Anthony Kavanagh, John Lester, Kevin Lynch, Stephen Larkin, Darren Dunne, Keith Dunne, John Rock, Sean Murphy. Subs: Joseph Flood, Darren O’Brien, Anthony Kane, David Brown, Alan McCabe, Stephen Murphy, Austin O’Neill.
Bangor Celtic: Philip Fahey, Jamie Cox, Daniel Cooke, John Scott, Robert Porter, David Meehan, Daniel Byrne, Fionn O’Tighearnaigh, Robert Byrne, Sean Casey, Dean Bollard. Subs: Lee Harrison, Aaron Dolan, Conor Mahon, Ciaran Maher, Jamie Dennison, Jack Cronin.