Wexford Albion are denied the double
Shamrock Rover 3, Wexford Albion 1
A double from substitute Luke Boxwell helped Shamrock Rovers to a come from behind Stanno Youths Cup final victory after an enthralling contest at Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday afternoon.
Having lost the LFA Youths Cup final to St. Joseph’s Boys and finished runners-up behind Wexford Albion in the league, it was third time lucky for the Enniscorthy crew as they fought back from trailing at the break to take the silverware.
Albion’s double dream looked to be on course when captain Luc Farrell fired them in front five minutes before the interval, but they suffered a massive blow shortly before the hour mark when midfielder Shane Roche was booked twice in the space of four minutes and they were reduced to ten men.
It got worse for the Youths Premier Division champions with 15 minutes remaining when Boxwell struck for the equaliser.
The game seemed destined for extra-time until Darragh Farrell headed Rovers in front in the fourth minute of injury time, and super-sub Boxwell sealed the deal with his second moments later.
It was a cruel way to lose for Albion, who ran themselves into the ground for the cause, but nobody could begrudge Rovers their success after their near misses this season.
The Enniscorthy side began the game strongly, and Aaron Dunne flashed a shot wide in the opening minute.
Dapo Abidoye looked dangerous on the right wing in the early stages and he squared for Dunne to tap home in the fourth minute, but the flag was quickly up for offside.
Albion began to grow into the game after a nervy start and Eoghan Ó Lionáin whipped a dangerous free-kick into the box in the 15th minute but nobody could get a vital touch.
Shamrock Rovers were back on the attack three minutes later when an Alan O’Connor free into the danger zone found its way to the feet of Ben Rossiter, and he swivelled and dragged a shot wide of the far post.
Wexford Albion were next to threaten in an end-to-end contest as Eoghan Ó Lionáin did well to play the ball back to Darragh Moloney 30 yards out and the midfielder forced a save out of Will Hayes, who gathered the ball at the second attempt.
Half-chances continued to come and go, with Dapo Abidoye twice firing off target and Moloney and the lively Luke Murphy warming the gloves of Hayes at the other end.
Wexford Albion made the breakthrough with 40 minutes on the clock when Tirnan Doyle caught the Rovers defence napping and took a quick free to Luke Murphy.
The centre-forward played in Luc Farrell with a peach of a pass and he applied a finish to match, confidently firing the ball to the net.
Rovers tried to begin the second-half on the front foot, but it didn’t look like it would be easy to carve open a resolute Albion rearguard.
Then came the major turning point of the match. Shane Roche, who had a good game up to that point, was booked for a strong challenge nine minutes after the restart, and when the tricky Dapo Abidoye got away from him moments later he brought him down as he was about to bear down on goal and referee Mark Lett brandished a second yellow card.
In the 70th minute Rovers came within a whisker of levelling matters. Abidoye did well to pull the ball back to Ben Rossiter, whose shot was heading wide, but Aaron Dunne got his head to it and it grazed the outside of the post.
The equaliser did come 15 minutes from time when, not long after entering the fray, Jakub Wasilewski played a sweet pass for fellow substitute Luke Boxwell to run on to and he confidently lifted the ball over Eoin Halligan and into the net.
To their credit, Albion continued to battle well despite their numerical disadvantage, with Luke Murphy superbly leading the line, and the game looked to be heading for extra-time.
Dapo Abidoye had a sight of goal in the third minute of time added on, but his shot from a tight angle was brilliantly blocked by Tirnan Doyle and flew out for a corner.
Albion’s relief was short-lived, however, as Luke Boxwell swung in the resulting corner and Darragh Farrell rose highest to head home from close range.
It was game, set and match in the ninth minute of injury time when Alan O’Connor pumped a long free forward, which grazed off the head of Alex Kirby, allowing Boxwell to ghost in to slot the ball to the net off the left upright.
Shamrock Rovers: Will Hayes, Gary Kennedy (capt.), Alan O’Connor, Shadrach Onwubiko, Jamie Kealy-Gregory, Darragh Farrell, Ben Rossiter, Dapo Abidoye, Kyle Baker, Miley Fortune, Aaron Dunne. Subs. - Luke Boxwell for Baker (58), Jakub Wasilewski for Fortune (73), Jason Ogwueleka for Rossiter (90+6), Ciarán Whiting for Kennedy (90+9).
Wexford Albion: Eoin Halligan, Ben English, Alex Kirby, Tirnan Doyle, Cillian Twomey, Luc Farrell (capt.), Shane Roche, Darragh Moloney, Eoghan Ó Lionáin, Ryan Curran, Luke Murphy. Subs. - Rian Sammon for Curran (76), John O’Connor for Moloney (90+10), also Abban Moran, Darragh Kirwan, Joe Mernagh.
Referee: Mark Lett.