Tuesday 12 December 2017

Stalwart Breen delighted as Michael's sink Ballynanty to end final heartbreak


St Michael's captain James Walsh celebrates with the cup at the end of the game
St Michael's captain James Walsh celebrates with the cup at the end of the game
David Slattery celebrates scoring the first goal for St Michael's in the FAI Junior Cup final against Ballynanty Rovers
Dermot Fitzgerald, Ballynanty Rovers, in action against Jimmy Carr, St Michael's
Eddie Ratcliffe, St Michael's, in action against Chris Higgins, Ballynanty Rovers
Pat Quinn, St Michael's, in action against Darragh Hughes, left, and Tony Fahy, Ballynanty Rovers
St Michael's players celebrate with the FAI Junior Cup at the end of the game

John Fallon

ST MICHAEL'S stalwart Paul Breen admitted this triumph more than compensated for the pain endured in their previous four finals, which all ended in defeat.

The Tipperary team's victory at the Aviva Stadium ended a 40-year pursuit of national glory, though the margin of victory was helped in no small part to Ballynanty tiring towards the end of the match.

Although David Slattery's 20th-minute header gave the Saints an interval lead, Limerick side Ballynanty remained well in the decider until the second arrived after 67 minutes.

That occurred when Paul Quinn added a second, before Jimmy Carr bagged a late brace.

Breen, who along with captain James 'Chalky' Walsh, was a runner-up in all of their losing finals, spoke about relief and pride in equal measure at the end.

"This makes up for all the heartbreak," said the defensive powerhouse. "Ballynanty are a good side and kept in the game, but we were always confident of catching them on the counter-attack."

Only two minutes had gone for Michael's to show their intent when a stinging 30-yard shot from Carr forced captain Stephen McNamara to dive low and gather the effort.

Brian Buckley saw his curling free-kick turned around the post by McNamara four minutes later, while Slattery continued the early dominance by drilling his 10th-minute shot a yard wide.

After fending off that early pressure, Rovers produced the clearest chance on 17 minutes.

Alex Purcell's right-wing delivery was put up on a plate for David Dunphy, but the midfielder scuffed his shot and the danger was cleared.

With that scare dodged, Michael's hit the front three minutes later. Carr raided down the right flank before sending in a deep cross to the back post where Slattery rose high above his marker Chris Higgins to beat McNamara with a powerful header.

The action intensified approaching the break. Tom Daly cleared Buckley's bullet header off the line, while, at the other end, Purcell went sprawling in the box under Walsh's challenge, but didn't get the penalty award he felt was due from referee Eugene Deering.

It was a different story in the second half as Quinn became a menace for the Rovers defence with his power and pace.

After coming close to scoring with a drive shortly after the restart, the striker got more joy on 67 minutes when he brushed off two defenders in the box and found the net with a shot in off the far post.

On a rescue mission at that stage, the space left by Ballynanty at the back was ruthlessly seized upon. Carr's first of two goals in the space of five minutes was created by Richard Ryan's pass, allowing the winger to burst clear and bury a diagonal shot home.

Constant pressure yielded a fourth for Michael's – this time Carr jinking into a good position 10 yards out and curling the ball around McNamara.


ST MICHAEL'S – A Wall; C Higgins, P Breen, J Walsh (P Tobin 88), B Buckley; T Fahy, R Ryan, R Quirke (M Buckley 86); J Carr, D Slattery (C Bargary 70), P Quinn.

BALLYNANTY ROVERS – S McNamara; D Hughes (F Lee 83), K Meehan, T Daly, S Doran; D Dunphy, R Ryan, B Doran (D McInerney 68); T Fahy, A Purcell, D Fitzgerald (E Radcliffe 60).

REF – E Deering (Roscommon).

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