Rangers did late mentor ‘Jango’ proud in tough circumstances
S.F.A.I. Under-14 Regional Cup final: Villa F.C. 2 Gorey Rangers 0
If ever a team appreciated the fact that football is a great game but nonetheless it is just a game, it's this group of Gorey Rangers lads after they fell to defeat in the S.F.A.I. Under-14 Regional Cup final against Villa F.C.
From a young age these warriors were first guided, then moulded into footballers, by Colin 'Jango' Fleming.
After courageously battling a long illness, their mentor passed away less than 48 hours before the contest but they still played on, with crushing pain in their hearts.
And they did their boss proud. Football might be about winning, but winning comes in different forms.
'Let's do it for Jango' was full of hurt but it drove his team to a performance that they can forever look back on with great pride.
Sometimes you face a better team - and this Villa side was incredible from back to front - but Rangers played the match with the respect and guts of champions. They have had to grow up quickly on the football pitch but were able to show maturity beyond their years.
And that was without getting much luck along the way.
They probably needed a bit because they were hit by one of the best individual schoolboy performances this reporter can remember.
Baasit Ishola is an incredible talent. Wearing number 8 and playing in the heart of midfield, Ishola gave the type of performance few that witnessed it will quickly forget.
Everything about his game was impressive: the vision, the passing, the power, his eye for goal.
He had already tested Grefo Baziak with early strikes before he latched on to Patrick Ugochukwu's long free-kick and volleyed high into the Rangers net in the 17th minute.
Gorey were stung and didn't really Thesettle until they started probing without success towards the end of the half.
The Gorey shackles, mental and physical, came off in the third quarter and they had a real go.
Tim Ivors flashed a free-kick over the bar in the 41st minute, while Josh Hegarty sliced into the side-netting at the other end four minutes later.
That was a rare foray forward in the Gorey spell.
A looping James Murray header just cleared the crossbar in the 46th minute, and moments later Pádraig Wafer squared to an unmarked Cian Levingston in the box but Ben O'Neill made a stunning, point-blank save.
Murray's shot was handled on the line by a Villa defender in the 52nd minute but the Waterford club escaped thanks to the linesman's flag.
However, with nine minutes left the magician Ishola wrapped up victory, taking on three defenders before firing into the top corner from the tightest of angles to secure the cup for his side.
Gorey Rangers: Gergo Baziak; James Kenny, Rory Martin, Max Meegan, Evan Harpur; Cian Levingston, Tim Ivors, Brendan Bolger, James Murray; Cathal O'Brien, Reece O'Donnell. Subs. (rolling) - Daniel Bolger, Kian Finn, Pádraig Wafer, Daniel Green, Adam O'Brien.
Villa F.C.: Ben O'Neill; Jake Coffey, Patrick Ugochukwu, Ramsey Miller, Charlie Whalley; Tom Spain; Josh Hegarty, Alonso Gomez, Baasit Ishola, Diego Hartnett; Conor McCabe. Subs. (rolling) - Jake O'Halloran, Dadu Igne, Evan O'Mahony, Niall Cohen, Harry Sharpe.
Referee: Noel Lavery.