Oisin McKelvey on the ball with Aaron Neilan close by Picture: Thomas Gallagher
Keadue Rovers, under 14 Champions League winners 2018 - Picture: Thomas Gallagher
Ryan Brennan was the toast of Keadue Rovers thanks to his crucial winning goal in this closely contested final at Ballyare on Saturday afternoon where two evenly matched teams gave it everything they had for 70 minutes in ideal conditions on a beautiful pitch.
Keadue Rovers …….. 2
Erne Wanderers ……. 1
In the end slim margins will make the difference, and full credit here to Keadue whose winner came from sheer persistence close to goal and a sublime finish from a second chance ensured the silverware would head west rather than south.
Keadue’s victory is the obvious headline from this game, but for many years to come I expect this final will also be recalled for one memorable incident mid-way through the second half when Erne’s Kyle McNulty was desperately unlucky not to score one of the most outrageous goals seen at any venue in the county.
McNulty, inside his own half and at least 60 yards from the Keadue goal, evoking memories of a certain Mr Beckham, drilled an incredible first time volley from a Keadue clearance which looked a certain goal as it sailed over the keeper, but tailed right and hit the post to ensure Keadue stayed ahead. Onlookers and supporters instinctively applauded McNulty’s incredible effort, Keadue breathed a sigh of relief and in the final 15 minutes defended superbly.
Those final 15 minutes were lit up by the introduction of Keadue’s Aidan Brennan, who looks every bit as good as the reports we have heard about him. He and Cillian Bonner seemed to have an immediate understanding and offered us a welcome variation on the long ball football played by both sides until this point.
Both teams looked nervous in the opening stages, Erne conceded an own goal on five minutes, unlucky Aaron Cullen heading into his own net, but within 90 seconds it was level, Damian Webber from a free close to the half way line, scoring a remarkable goal as the Keadue keeper could only manage to push the ball high and into the top of his own net.
In the main Erne dominated the remainder of the first half but Oran Fallon did test them with a wonderful effort on 10 minutes which just went wide. Erne’s best chances, two of them, fell to Aaron Neilan, who was unlucky not to hit the net while Ryan Daly in the Erne nets made a good save on 30 minutes to deny Aidan Boyle who was put through by Ryan Brennan. A memorable run by Shane Delahunty saw Danny Breen fire goalward, his effort pushed out for a corner as Erne’s momentum grew and they finished the half well on top.
Ten minutes into the second half a free close to the half way line gave Keadue the platform for the game’s telling goal, Jamie McCready’s freekick finding Oisin McKelvey whose low drive was tipped onto the post by Daly with the rebound falling to Ryan Brennan who fired high to the net for what proved the winning goal.
With 25 minutes left to play Erne rarely penetrated a superb Keadue defence and neither side created any real gilt edged chances with Keadue looking stronger and more dangerous in the final ten minutes with Brennan’s pace and touch a joy to watch.
Ryan Brennan(No. 6) wheels away having scored the crucial winner for Keadue Rovers. Picture: Thomas Gallagher
Aaron Neilan and Shane Delahunty were impressive for Erne, Kyle McNulty a real impact sub for them, while captain Oran Fallon, Oisin McKelvey and Ryan Brennan were excellent for the victors.
Afterwards both teams were presented with medals and the Champions League Cup was presented to Oran Fallon by PJ Cavanagh, chairman of the Donegal Schoolboys League.
The general presentation of this game and the wonderful facilities at Ballyare are a credit to the Donegal League while referee Marty Quinn and his officials Vincent McLaughlin and Marty McGarrigle handled this game superbly.
Keadue Rovers: Dean Timoney, Jamie McCready, Jack Ward, Cian McGee, Cillian Bonner, Ryan Brennan, Oran Fallon, Mark Brennan, Oisin McKelvy, Liam Boyle Aidan Boyle. Subs: Jordan Saville for A Boyle; Aidan Brennan for L Boyle. Dan Kerry, Matthew Conroy.
Erne Wanderers: Ryan Daly, Shane Delahunty, Damian Webber, Aaron Cullen, Tommy Winters, Gero Gilmartin, Danny Breen, Aaron Neilan, Jack Gallagher, Eoghan Kelly, Robbie Murphy. Subs: Aiden Sweeny for Kelly; Kyle McNulty for Gilmartin; Shane McGloin for Breen. Matiu Tierney, James Gallagher, Aonghus Sweeney.
Referee: Marty Quinn; Assistant Referees; Vincent McLaughlin and Marty McGarrigle.