AVONDALE UNITED.. 1 CRUMLIN UNITED..0
By Niall Feery
MARK O’SULLIVAN cracked home the only goal of the game as Avondale United lifted the FAI Intermediate Cup for a record eighth time at the Aviva Stadium.
O’Sullivan added an intermediate medal to his FAI Senior Cup gong, won at the same venue in 2016, as he fired home just before half time.
This was typical of the Dale. The Cork giants are masters of the sit and soak once they get in front. No matter what the Blues imagined the Dale defence, led gloriously by Mark Horgan, would stamp out. Every avenue Crumlin ventured down was met with a Dale road block.
The Dale sat on the edge of the area for most of the second half and let Crumlin empty their imaginations in front of them. There were a few scares, but as the game ticked on, the Blues’ game plan withered on Avondale granite.
This was the Dale’s day and their title. This was a success built on their defence and ending with just one goal conceded proved just how mean this side were across seven games.
Crumlin were lively from the start but despite their early verve they couldn’t etch out any tangible chances. The Blues tried to agitate Avondale from out wide in the early exchanges as they engaged wing wonders Alan McGreal and Craig Walsh at every opportunity.
Walsh looked on his game and whipped in a couple of early crosses to get Dale concerned while McGreal lifted a batch of corner kicks into Sean Barron’s space, but the Waterford netminder didn’t flinch.
Avondale seeped into the fabric of the game as the half wore on and Mark O’Sullivan sparked into life as he skipped through a static Crumlin defence, but Mikey Quinn stayed big to save with his feet. It was the best chance of the game up to that point, it was also served as a warning, a warning that Crumlin did not heed.
O’Sullivan popped up with the opening goal on 37 minutes. The striker collected the ball just outside the Crumlin area. With the Blues defence backing off, O’Sullivan let fly from twenty yards and left Quinn stunned as the ball nestled in the bottom corner.
The electric Jake Donnelly, who was subdued in the first half, came to life straight after the break as he wrestled away from Mark Horgan, his shot, though, had too much air. Gareth Brady had a shot blocked while Donnelly headed over from close range as Crumlin looked for parity.
Donnelly finally warmed Barron’s gloves, the Dale netminder dropping low to keep out a stinging shot from a tight angle. David Kiely then blocked out another Donnelly effort, stopping the striker’s shot with his face.
Just as it seemed Donnelly was setting light to another firecracker performance, he left the pitch on a stretcher. Soon after the inspirational Horgan followed him down the tunnel, injured as well.
Crumlin continued to build and spent the remainder of the final camped in the Avondale area, but the Cork side continued to breakdown every attack as they used every bit of their experience to keep the LSL champions out.
Avondale: Sean Barron; Danny O’Connell, David Shovlin, David Kiely, Mark Horgan, Eoghan Lougheed, David O’Leary, Hughie O’Donovan, Jack Walsh, Mark O’Sullivan, Brian Murphy. Subs: Ryan Hogan for Shovlin (34 mins), Karl Caulfield for O’Leary (64mins), Vinnie O’Brien for Horgan (79mins), Cathal O’Neill for Murphy (90mins), Steven Barrett, Richard Tobin, Daniel O’Leary.
Crumlin: Michael Quinn; Sean Harding, Gareth Brady, David Fagan, Thomas Hyland, John Sullivan, Craig Walsh, James Lee, Jake Donnelly, Conor Murphy, Alan McGreal. Subs: Liam Brady for Donnelly (73mins), Sam Burgess for Murphy (90mins), Noel Cummins, Alan Barrett, Blair Mandinangu, Gary Murphy, David Meehan.