Lagan Harps U-12s - Champions League winners. Photo Thomas Gallagher
In an absorbing contest in the first of the finals on Champions League weekend in Donegal Schoolboys soccer, Illistrin took the U-12 title in front of a large crowd at the excellent facilities of Bonagee United FC on Friday night.
Lagan Harps 1
Illistrin United 0
Only the one goal separated these clubs when a Max Johnston shot from six yards just minutes before half-time sealed the victory for the Garry Gibson/Seamus Crossan managed side who have now won the treble and could in a fortnight's time win the Ulster final when they play away to Cavan Shamrocks at Cavan Box Park at a date and time to be decided.
The winners had already beat their opponents in the group stages with a comfortable 2-0 victory so were strong favorites to lift the Champions League trophy.
The Manor outfit started strongly and for the majority of the half were camped at the Illistrin end.
Ben O'Donnell had the first strike on eight minutes but it went narrowly over the crossbar. Further half chances fell to Max Johnston and Faolin Gibson but the Illistrin defence were equal to it. The goal did arrive and was well merited when an inswinging cross by Faolin Gibson fell to the strong centre forward Max Johnston an he made no mistake from close range. In the remaining minutes of the half, both Luke Parke and Oisin Harkin went close.
With the half-time whistle sounding, the Lagan management team would have felt disappointment with only the one goal lead.
It was the complete opposite in the second half when the Illistrin team, under the guidance of Paddy McDaid and Kyle Maloney, took control of the game playing their slick short quick passing game and in the second minute, Eoghan Scott showed his technical ability to pass a few defenders and hit a rashing shot which Alex Parke pushed over the crossbar.
They were now dictating the pace and the midfield of Adam McDaid and Mark Bonner started to control the game. Aadm Parke had to be on his guard again when he was forced to save from Bonner.
Only solid defending by Dylan McAteer and Lucy Canning had kept Illistrin scoreless. Dylan McAteer went on a crazy run with minutes remaining but tried to pass to a team mate instead of going through on goal and the chance was lost.
Ben O'Donnell was unlucky not to double the advantage when a shoot had taken a wicked deflection off an illistrin player but hit the crossbar.
The game ended with Johnston the hero. A great final and both teams were awarded great applause by all the spectators.
Best wishes go out now to Lagan Harps on their Ulster Final and SFAI journey. Illistrin should be very proud of their display and specially on reaching the final as most of their squad are underage next season again
The player of the match was presented to the Lagan Harps captain Dylan McAteer who had a superb game.
LAGAN HARPS: Alex Parke, Callum Lynch, Lucy Canning, Dylan McAteer, PJ Gallagher, Erin Doherty, Ben 'ODonnell Luke Parke, Max Johnston, Faolin Gibson, Oisin Harkin and Shay McCole
ILLISTRIN UNITED: Luke Kelly, Jako Reilly, Max Gallagher, Antaine Boyle, Iarlaith Duffy, Jack Keys, Mark Bonner, Eoghan Scott, Ultan McMonagle, Shay Maloney, Adam McDaid, Daniel Gillispie and Ricky Guntrip.