LETTERKENNY ROVERS reclaimed the Dick Duffy Donegal Youth League for the first time in their history when they beat Erne Wanderers 3-0 at the Hospital Field in Donegal Town on Saturday.
Letterkenny Rovers 3
Erne Wanderers 0
Anthony Gorman’s side weren’t at the best but still lead 1-0 at the break when Shane Porter headed home a free-kick from Dale Gorman on nine minutes.
Rovers made the game safe with goals from Kieran McPherson and Marty Vance both coming from assists from Kevin McGrath.
Porter headed a bullet opener from Dale Gorman’s free to put Letterkenny in front. It was a devilish delivery from the Northern Ireland U-17 international, who played two matches in Slovenia in midweek.
That gave Rovers the start they would’ve wanted but they struggled to add to that early promise as the match became scrappy and failed to settled.
Although Jason Quinn was a spectator for the most part, the Rovers goalkeeper might’ve been a touch worried as his side continually gave away free-kicks just outside their area.
Erne didn’t make the most of their opportunities, although a rasper from top-score Jamie Brennan fizzled just over the angle of post and crossbar.
Rovers really should’ve went in 2-0 up with Callum Gallagher was dispossessed in his own area, only Ryan McCloskey’s shot was probably too true as he smashed over from 10 yards right on the half-time whistle.
After winning the league last year having scored four against Cappry Rovers, Letterkenny were favourites to win the title against an Erne Wanderers team who had won the southern division.
The Ballyshannon side’s management team of Kevin Gallagher and Charlie Roper were delighted to welcome a trio of the Donegal county minors back from Sligo, having played in the 3-12 to 3-12 draw against Mayo - Brennan, Alan Russell and Gallagher.
Rovers, on the other hand, kept faith with the same starting XI that won so convincingly 3-0 against Swords Celtic last week in the FAI Youth Challenge Cup.
The Leckview side now face Castlebar Celtic later this month away from home in the last eight.
Rovers lost Dale Gorman, who had already been booked, to a foot injury on the hour but his replacement Tristian Ferris and McGrath did well in the middle of the field.
Kieran McPherson went through one-on-one after a flock-on from Jason Doherty from Quinn’s clearance but Kelly in the Erne goal saved well having stayed on his feet as long as possible.
However, on 66 minutes their paths would cross again. From a pass from McGrath on the Rovers right, McPherson drilled a spectacular second across Kelly.
The match became disjointed late on but Letterkenny were in total control. Quinn, having bought himself a new pair of goalkeeping gloves a fortnight ago, hadn’t a save to make this week or last.
With two minutes to go, McGrath set substitute Vance streaking away from the offside trap and he coolly added a third. It was three and easy for Rovers.
“Any time you win a league you have to be happy,” manager Gorman said afterwards.
“That’s what you want to do from the start of the season and we’ve won the Dick Duffy back to back for the first time ever now.
“We weren’t great today but we took our chances and we’re not conceding chances. The back four can be happy with that.”
Letterkenny Rovers: Jason Quinn; John Blaney (Brandon Toye 73), Kieran Doherty, Shane Porter, Noah Mailey (Peter McGlynn 84); Ryan McCloskey, Dale Gorman (Tristian Ferris 59), Kevin McGrath, Aaron Scanlon; Jason Doherty (Marty Vance 76), Kieran McPherson (Paddy Diver 73).
Erne Wanderers: Daniel Kelly; Callum Gallagher (Philip Patton 52), Liam Ryan, Shane Carr (Patrick Dixon 89), Daniel McIntyre; Michael McNeely, James Kelly, Alan Russell, Dylan O’Reilly; Jamie Brennan, Jamie McDonald.
Referee: Liam Farren.