ENNISKILLEN RGERS……0 ST MICHAEL’S TIPPERARY…..3
ST MICHAEL’S TIPPERARY added the Presidents’ Cup to their trophy cabinet following their three-goal victory over Enniskillen Rangers at Ferney Park on Saturday.
Established last season by IFA President David Martin and his FAI counterpart Donal Conway, the annual cross-border competition sees the winners of the IFA Junior Cup and FAI Junior Cup go head-to-head to determine the junior football kingpins across both associations.
By EAMON SCOTT
Rangers, runners-up last term to North End United of Wexford, Enniskillen Rangers started on the front foot and crafted an early chance but were denied by St. Michael’s keeper Adrian Walsh who made a brilliant diving save with home striker Jason Keenan unable to connect with the loose ball which was cleared by the Saints.
It was a relatively youthful St Michael’s starting eleven but with his squad shorn of some more experienced regulars such as David Slattery and Paul Breen, James Walsh will be delighted with the commitment and endeavor on display from his troops who face a tough opening defence of their FAI Junior Cup crown with an upcoming away fixture to TSDL Premier Division Peake Villa.
The momentum started to change as the first half progressed in favour of St. Michael’s and, following a period of possession, they hit the front thanks to Sean Guerins and Jonathan Kennedy putting home keeper Gareth Barbour under pressure and the ball dropped into the Enniskillen net off Shane Ryan corner to the back post.
Rangers still saw plenty of the ball and Chris Currie made a couple of incisive runs as the IFA Cup winners pushed for an equaliser, but St Michael’s held tight at the back and Joey Mulcahy and John O’Brien did sterling work in cutting out the attacks down the flanks while Shane Ryan was excellent in the middle of the park for the Cooke Park side.
The second half started in similar fashion with St. Michael’s soaking up everything Rangers threw at them and while the home side saw plenty of ball, William Armshaw and Jimmy Carr were always a threat going forward with their clever footwork and ability to change angles of attack.
The game was evenly balanced but James White’s side doubled their advantage with just over a quarter-of-an-hour remaining when substitute Gavin Dillon chipped Barbour from 12 yards out. Dillon netted the winner recently against Cahir Park and showed plenty of mobility and an eye for goal in his cameo appearance.
Much as Enniskillen Rangers tried to pull a goal back it just wasn’t to be, falling further behind in the fifth minute of stoppage through a clinical finish from ‘man of the match’ Shane Ryan who latched out a loose ball 30 yrs out and thumped an unstoppable strike past Barbour in the Rangers’ goal.
Credit must also go to Ballinamallard United for hosting the match in a stadium that was in perfect condition and the victorious Saints had a loyal but elighted following to see them claim the title which sees the officially crowned as ‘All Ireland’ Junior champions.
ENNISKILLEN RANGERS: Gareth Barbour; Conor Watson, Matthew Chambers, Ciaran Smith. Richard Johnstpn, Neil Coulter, Jake Browne, Jason Keenan, Christopher Currie. Stuart Rainey. Subs: Philip Beacom, Eoin McManus, Shay Stephens, Ciaran Brough, Nathan Khan, Christopher Keenan, Michael Kerr.
ST MICHAEL’S AFC: Adrian Walsh; Joseph Mulcahy, John O’Brien, Jonathan Kennedy, Sean Guerins, Colin Bargary, William Armshaw, Shane Ryan, Oliver O’Driscoll, David Joyce, Jimmy Carr. Subs: DJ Cremins, Chris Higgins, Alan O’Dwyer, Gavin Dillon, Eoghan Tinkler, Danny O’Brien, James Walsh.