CHERRY ORCHARD................. 4
ST KEVIN'S BOYS ...................4
(AET Cherry Orch 6 – 5 on pens)
It was the Tangerines versus the Cherries on the finely manicured fruit bowl of Frank Cooke Park.
This pulsating Leinster Youth Cup final between two giants of the Schoolboy game, St Kevin's Boys and Cherry Orchard, provided a roller coaster ride for the sizable crowd in attendance, the encore for which was a nail-biting penalty shoot-out.
The tidy ground, home of Tolka Rovers, invites the spectator to experience the raw emotion of the protaganists inside the white lines.
And raw emotion there was aplenty. Pushing forward with every opportunity, it looked like it was going to be a dream start for St Kevin's. But the tangerine dream soon turned into a nightmare. With Kevin's strong midfield duo of Bobby O'Reilly and Glen Howey out of position following the breakdown of another sortee, Cherry Orchard switched the ball quickly to Jamie McGrath, who displayed his finely tuned striker's instincts to slot the game's opening goal on 13 minutes.
When St Kevin's conceded a free-kick close to the left hand touch-line some 30 metres from goal, they looked to have had all bases covered. Darren Farrelly, in the Kevin's goal, stretched to make what appeared was a regulation save. But when the ball spilled from his hands the Cherries were queuing up to score. It was McGrath who did.
What happened to the St Kevin's defence? Their bench were left scratching their heads. Twenty minutes in, they had dominated possession, looked the more positive and yet were two goals to nil behind!
Kevin's continued to press forward, but Orchard, buoyed by the goals, were now matching the Saint's ambition. But St Kevin's delivered the goal that their efforts merited courtesy of Cory Franzoni who converted his chance smartly before the break. The Cherries re-emerged with a more positive approach for the second half and took the game to the Saints.
Armstrong Dekomo and Sean McGrane starred as Orchard pressed forward but clever counter play by Kevin's was finding some gaps. On one such occasion sub Jason Murray cleverly broke clear of his marker down the left and got on the end of a sweet passing move to level the score-line at 2-2.
Back came Cherries, and Timmy Babington emerged from a group of bodies to regain the lead for the southsiders. Some thought it was going to prove the winner, but Kevin's kept plugging away and in almost a carbon copy of his earlier equaliser, Murray again found the space to tie it up again as extra-time beckoned.
If the 90 minutes had proved breath-takingly entertaining the overtime was even more so. Dekomo looked to have won it for Orchard with a stunning drive from outside box which ripped to the net.
But Owen Kinsella had other ideas as he went on a slalom ride through Cherries' defence and set up Franzoni who sent the game to penalties.
The tension was unbearable for both sets of supporters as the teams missed two each of their regulation five, the two 'keepers making some wonderful saves, sending it to sudden death.
Four more penalties were scored, two for each team before Ian Molloy saved again.
When Darragh Gannon converted it was ecstasy in the Orchard for the Cherries.
CHERRY ORCHARD: Ian Molloy, Adam Harney, Jake Corrigan, Conor Mooney, Conor Dunne, Armstrong Dekomo, Jack Bayly, Sean McGrane, Jamie McGrath, Adam Walsh, Timmy Babington, Ryan Masterson, Darragh Gannon, Lyle Hand, Conor Foley, Karl Ntumba, Chris Roche.
ST. KEVIN'S BOYS: Darren Farrelly, Adam Franzoni, Aaron Harding, Mark Byrne, Paddy Ellis, Owen Kinsella, Sam Gavin, Owen Byrne, Dylan McLoughlin, Sam Leavey, Bobby O'Really, Glen Hoey, Breen McDonagh, Derek Moore, Dylan Kelly, Ryan Deegan, Cory Franzoni, Sven Buisimbia, Jason Murray.
MOTM: Jamie McGrath.
Referee: Gerry McClinton.