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leicester lions roar!

THE Leinster Football Association produced a splendid programme for Friday night's Under-19 Cup final. Leicester and St Patrick's proceeded to rock Richmond.

LEICESTER CELTIC 2 ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC 1

 

The famous old venue has many tales to tell. This was another one. There was a cracking atmosphere on the Emmet Road.

The lights were on early. Shortly after the kick-off, a high ball headed for the Celtic dugout. Leicester co-manager Paul Miley controlled it with a sweet first touch that would have done justice to Jackie Jameson. A big cheer went up from the stand.

Leicester defended magnificently. They were one-up at the break, but in the second period, as the rain fell, the Camac tide was only flowing in one direction – towards the Shed end.

Five minutes from time, Leicester got their second goal. That would surely put the ribbons on the trophy. But six minutes of additional time were ordered and, in the 91st minute, Pat's brought it back to 2-1.

And just like they had done for the previous 45 minutes, they descended in droves on Leicester Square and came so close to forcing extra-time.

It was a pleasure to watch their central midfielder, Craig Smithers, who gave a real lord-of-the-manor display.

He was majestic, linking up the play, stroking it around with assurance, and with both feet.

He is such an elegant footballer and was never far from the hub of the action.

blocked

Both sides play in the AUL U19 division. Openings were rare before the tea. On 15 minutes, Sean Keller's thumping free was blocked by the St Pat's wall. From the rebound, Keller forced a tidy save from Bradley Foley.

Keifer Byrne then went close with a Patrick's free before Celtic opened the scoring in the 23rd minute when Keller's left-wing corner was headed in on the six-yard box by Tadgh Healy, who was voted the man-of-the-match and who collected the Striker wristband.

Healy had to take the goal-kicks in the second period as Leicester 'keeper Yinka Adebowale struggled with injury.

Adebowale made some crucial saves as Pat's poured on the coal. Timmy Raheem was a whisker away from levelling it, while Gareth Byrne was foiled by a heroic clearance off the line by Louis Nicalou.

After soaking up so much pressure, in a rare Leicester counter attack, Michael Mustapha sprinted clear, rounded the advancing Foley, cut inside a defender and found the empty net.

The engraver was putting their name on the silver, but Keifer Byrne's strike changed the climate and put the Celts under the cosh once more.

Adebowale was again at his best to deny Mikey Delaney and then, on 94 minutes, Byrne cracked a shot off the bar.

At the presentation, Paul Miley reminded the Leicester squad what Mustapha's pen picture had read. And there it was in black and white – 'Always a potential match winner.'

But, in fairness, the Leicester Lions had a few.

LEICESTER CELTIC: Yinka Adebowale; Jake Timmins, Tadgh Healy, Louis Nicalou, Conor Moran; Colm Whelan, Sean Keller, Owen Norton; Michael Mustapha, Evander Chatara, David Kolapo. Subs: Lar Malone for Chatara (inj, 59); Dylan Soon for Kolapo (inj, 72). Managers: Owen Norton, Paul Miley.

ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC: Brad Foley; Sam Reilly, Dean Miley, Eoin Byrne, Ryan Byrne; Gareth Byrne, Craig Smithers, Keifer Byrne, Timmy Raheem; Mikey Delaney, Keith Murray. Subs: BJ Sofola for Murray (79); Ayobami Lowo for G Byrne (79). Managers: Ben Smithers, Alan Patchell.

Referee: Wayne Kelly. Assistant Referees: Robbie Byrne, Pat McCabe. Fourth Official: Eamon Byrne.


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