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Mount Merrion claim Gerry Donnelly Cup as Sheahan penalty proves decisive

MOUNT MERRION YOUTH….3 RAHENY UNITED….2

(After Extra-time)

THE Under-13 Gerry Donnelly Cup final. Gerry was the treasurer of the DDSL. There was a good crowd at Belfield.

As both teams paraded onto the pitch, a spectator declared: “Here they come. There are linesmen and all.”

It sparked the response: “Yes, it’s the full nine yards.”

By NIALL SCULLY

And so it was. It went the distance. All the way to extra-time. And a breath away from the dreaded penalties.

It was a tremendous match. And the applause, for the wonderful efforts of both teams, thundered around the stadium at the finish.

The surface came from Wimbledon. Not a stray corn flake at the Bowl. It was mild.

Before the kick-off, two magpies, in the Newcastle colours, did a fly-past to wish the sides luck.

Raheny play in black and white jerseys, and they had much of the early play. But on 20 minutes, Merrion took the lead.

They were attacking the RTE end. Charlie Harty sent over a corner from the left. Cormac Sheahan tucked it in from inside the six-yard box.

Seven minutes into the second half, they were level. A sweet left-footed 20-yard strike from Shane Clarke. Low to the left corner.

Seven minutes later, Merrion took the lead once more. Rees Dowling struck a shot from the left edge of the box that kept rising and rising until it reached the far loft.

It looked like that was going to win it. Then, four minutes from time, the excellent Charlie Delaney curled in a free from wide on the right. And Jack Codd’s glancing header sent the tie to extra-time.

Ten minutes each way. That after a energy-sapping 60 minutes. Yet on the big, big stage, the players continued to provide wonderful entertainment.

 There was the nimble skill of the Raheny left-winger, Tom McEntagart. The powerful running of Clarke. Josh Garland’s superb pass down the right side-line had the United following on their feet.

Merrion’s central defender, Conor O’Shaughnessy, plays like Virgil van Dijk. Reading the play so well, timing his tackles to perfection and striding clear with the ball on his laces.

It was 2-2 at half-time in extra-time. The attendance probably had settled for penalties at that stage.

But it was one spot-kick that would decide it. It came five minutes into the second period of extra-time. At the Clonskeagh end. Sheahan hit his kick cleanly and firmly to the left corner. Martin Bishop did well to get his fingers to it, but the pace of the ball took it home.

Raheny came near to finding their third equaliser. Merrion ‘keeper, Ronan Ffrench made a crucial and brave double save to deny Ben Nolan and McEntagart.

And in added time, Clarke steamed into the box on the right only to be denied by Jay Courtney, who made the most valuable of tackles to divert the ball out for a corner.

It was a tackle his grand-father, Pat Courtney, would have been proud of. Pat, the distinguished left full-back of Shamrock Rovers, was in the audience. An enchanted audience.

MOUNT MERRION YOUTHS: Ronan Ffrench; Ruarc Mullarkey, Zach Silverman, Finn McDonnell, Conor O’Shaughnessy, Cormac Sheahan, Rees Dowling, Charlie Harty, Louis McSweeney, Jay Courtney, Conal Curran, Joey Connolly, Leon Pierron McCann, Max Kickham. Managers: Kevin Harty, Paul McDonnell, Bill Dowling.

RAHENY UNITED: Martin Bishop; Sean Mooney, Charlie Delaney, Luke McSherry, Jack Codd, Ben Nolan, Ryan Kane, Shane Clarke, Luke McCullagh, Luke McDonnell, Tom McEntagart, Josh Garland, Dan O’Grady, Conor Watters, Sean Morgan, Joseph Doherty. Managers: Shay McDonnell, Anthony Kane.

Referee: Jason Kelly. Assistants: Tom Shannon, Liam Wells.

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