First National Title for ADSL   11/06/2018






It was entirely appropriate that a National Final such as this should be defined and ultimately decided by two moments of magic and absolute class that saw the Athlone District Schoolboy League win their first ever Inter-League title in glorious Gainstown on Saturday afternoon.

Two spectacular goals, one in the first minute of the first half, the other ten minutes from the end of the second, saw the ADSL boys deserving and convincing first winners of the inaugural SFAI SUBWAY U-12 Inter-League Plate Final.

The ADSL got the perfect start.

In their first attack in the first minute it looked that they should have had a penalty when striker Brandon Wykes was felled well inside the penalty area. The foul was awarded but a free kick given just on the edge of the penalty area.

Keelan Connell’s strike came back off the wall but only as far as Cameron Keighery who put a great ball back in front of goal. Brandon Wykes pounced, controlling the ball with one deft right footed touch before firing low to the net with his left foot for a super goal. It was fantastic technique and composure in front of goal from one so young and a perfect start.

That early goal might have shattered the obvious nervous tension of a national final but both sides struggled thereafter to settle into their game and both sides seemed to struggle with the occasion with real chances at a premium.

Certainly the ADSL never scaled the heights of any of their previous seven games to get to this lofty stage yet they had the better of the opening half. The WW/EC boys had but one meaningful effort on goal when making good inroads down their right but their solitary shot of the opening half only rattled the side netting on 12 minutes. The ADSL looked more dangerous yet without fashioning any clear cut chances. They came closest when Keelan Connell charged into midfield, played a neat one-two with Brandon Wykes, but his shot while on target did not have the power to beat the keeper. Moments later the ADSL had a second good claim for a penalty when Cameron Keighery was bundled over at the back post after a corner kick.

Yet the ADSL were very good value for their 1-0 half-time lead.

West Waterford/East Cork started the second half strongly. A good raid down the right saw a dangerous ball fly across the face of the goal inviting a touch that never came.

The ADSL then had two outstanding chances as the game opened up. Three minutes into the half a super Brandon Wykes ball put James O’Rourke in the clear and bearing down on goal but his shot was well saved.

Then just one minute later Wykes got on the end of a good ADSL passing move and whipped in a fantastic cross from the left. James O’Rourke contorted his body to volley the ball from close range when it seemed easier to just head it allowing the keeper to save what seemed a certain goal.

The ADSL were now well on top. Thomas Farrell was coming more into the game. Keelan Connell was now running the show from midfield. The introduction of Cillian Geary and his darting runs in behind seemed to stretch the Munster champions to breaking point.

Yet WW/EC had a great chance to level on 49 minutes when a ball into the box was headed just over at the near post. That would be their last chance.

The game would soon be put beyond them. The ball was played out to Thomas Farrell out on the left flank. Ho took on and beat his marker and then rifled a scintillating shot high into the roof of the net at the near post. To some it might have been a cross that fortuitously found the net but this is something the irrepressible Farrell does routinely in training and matches and it was a moment of genius that deserved to decide this Final.

The ADSL comfortably saw out the remaining minutes and showed just how and why they have kept seven clean sheets in the eight unbeaten games it took to win this competition.

This is a famous win for the ADSL. It is a remarkable win for a League that seemed on its knees just over a year ago but also again reminds us all of the proud and rich football heritage and history in this town and region. These young boys have written another glorious chapter in that fabled story.

The wonderful scenes of celebration at the end were magnificent to behold and it was a very proud skipper Keelan Connell who received the SFAI SUBWAY Plate on behalf of his team and his League, the inaugural Under-12 Inter-League Plate Champions for 2018.

ADSL :- James Mitchell (Temple Villa), Keelan Connell (AC Celtic - Capt), Adam Rocke (East Galway United), Cathal Hardiman (St. Francis), Destiny Ezenna (St. Josephs), Cameron Keighery (Ballinasloe Town), Thomas Farrell (AC Celtic), Aodhan Curran (Temple Villa), Brandon Wykes (St. Francis).

Roll-On Subs :- Kyle Greene (St. Francis), Eoin Sheeran (St. Francis), James O’Rourke (Hodson Bay Celtic), Liam Staunton (AC Celtic), Cillian Geary (AC Celtic), Conor Feeney (St. Josephs), Paul Keegan (AC Celtic), Luis Clevitt (Temple Villa), Junior Harte (Ballinasloe Town).

Player of the Match:- The ADSL’s half time sub Conor Feeney got the official award and he was composed and assured in everything he did at right back but while Thomas Farrell, Brandon Wykes and Destiny Ezenna were outstanding for the winners the accolade has to go to the ADSL captain Keelan Connell who took the game to WW/EC in the first half and ran the game from midfield in the second half. He was the best player on the pitch.

Turning Point:- The introduction of Cillian Geary in the second half brought a fresh impetus and quicker tempo for the ADSL and totally tormented the WW/EC defence to the point that they just could not commit everything in all out pursuit of an equaliser. It pegged them back and contributed as much as both goals.

Talking Point:- It says much for the way this team are coached and organised that all 18 players on the ADSL team sheet got on the pitch for some part of this national Final and all played a telling part in wining this match. Coaches Clive O’Neill and Richie O’Neill should take a deserved bow for this feat as much as for shaping this famous win. Schoolboy football at its very best.           


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