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Plenty of hope for Bray under-15s despite slip up to Dundalk

Seagulls slip to 3-4 defeat to Dundalk at Ballycorus


Dundalk’s Caimín Hughes and Bray’s Max Colbert in a race for possession in Ballycorus.

Dundalk’s Caimín Hughes and Bray’s Max Colbert in a race for possession in Ballycorus.

Dundalk’s Caimín Hughes and Bray’s Max Colbert in a race for possession in Ballycorus.


Bray Wanderers 3

Dundalk 4

It is worth preserving the notepad full of half-legible scribbles purporting to be a recounting of a match’s events, especially when it comes to underage games, within which the stars of the future find their way in a game that, with a bit of luck, will treat them well.

The U15 Michael Hayes Cup meeting of Bray Wanderers and Dundalk on Sunday was no exception. While the result – a 4-3 win for the Lilywhites after being 2-0 down – is disappointing, the reality on the field gives reason for optimism.

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Philip Cooney was a menace up front; buzzing between the lines and chasing lost causes. Ethan Cheese and Rhys Knight were picking up possession in areas to affect the game, safe in the knowledge that Aidan Kane shielding a defence anchored by Alain Kizenga.

It took just three minutes for the opening goal to arrive. Ronan Dawson clipped the ball up the line for Philip Cooney to touch down to Ethan Cheese.

He moved it back right to Fionn Murray, who sent a long pass over the top to Max Colbert to hold off his marker before lobbing the onrushing goalkeeper.

Ethan Cheese saw a header hit the bar on ten minutes, two minutes before Bray doubled their advantage when Rhys Knight’s free-kick was spilled into the back of the net.

The goals only kept coming in a helter-skelter affair, when an inswinging corner was emphatically headed into the back of the net by Liam O’Leary to half the deficit.

It was through Rhys O’Hare that Dundalk got their second goal early in the third quarter, when his curling strike came back off the post. The rebound deflected off Joe Collins and into the path of Rumako Sweetman, who made it 2-2.

Bray could have restored their lead when Ronan Dawson freed Philip Cooney, but for his shot to be saved.

Right down the other end, Fionn McNamara, on as a sub, had a header dramatically blocked by Kizenga.

Eventually, the pressure told and, when Kizenga brought down Sweetman, the penalty was awarded. Up stepped Danny Putnam, who squeezed the spotkick beyond Collins.

The second of three 30-minute thirds was altogether manic. Two goals had been scored up to the final ten minutes, so why not add another? This time, it came for Bray.

Dundalk, in a change from the opening third, were harassing Bray in their attempts to pass out from the back. They were more often than not successful but, on 53 minutes, it backfired, when Wanderers were forced into passing it back to Collins.

The goalkeeper launched the ball long, where Max Colbert muscled his way towards the box. His initial cut-back was deflected back to him.

With that avenue having been blocked off, he instead arrowed a classy left-footed finish into the back of the net.

Just one minute later, however, Dundalk were 4-3 in front, when Rhys O’Hare carried the ball towards the by-line, before rolling it back to the edge to Fionn McNamara, whose unerring first-time strike rolled beyond the helpless Joe Collins.

The closest Bray would come to equalising came when Max Colbert’s cross appeared to hit the arm of the Dundalk defender before it was cleared, but for their calls for a penalty to be waved away.

The final whistle drew contrasting emotions. Dundalk players celebrated; Bray Wanderers youngsters sunk to the floor.

It was a defeat that will sting but one from which they can learn and improve.

Bray Wanderers: Joe Collins; Fionn Murray, Alain Kizenga, Ronan Dawson; Janek Sarwinski, Rhys Knight, Aidan Kane, Ethan Cheese, Ciaran Leeson; Philip Cooney, Max Colbert. Subs: Ross Young, Leon O’Sullivan, Jack Nolan, Dylan Bourke, Darragh Emmett, Sam Baker.

Dundalk: Logan Kierans, Conor Patterson, Rhys O’Hare, Carmin Hughes, Noah McGinley, Danny Putnam, Liam O’Leary, Cian Spayht, Rumako Sweetman, Conan Alfred, Cian Murphy.

Referee: Paul Kirwan