| 10.2°C Dublin

olaf's pounce

Two goals in the closing stages from substitute Matthew Ó Ceallaigh helped Naomh Olaf to overcome St Peregrine's by six points in their absorbing Dublin Under 16 Football League Division 3 final on the all-weather surface at Benildus College last Saturday afternoon.

With extra-time a distinct possibility with five minutes remaining, Ó Ceallaigh pounced on two occasions inside three minutes to thwart the comeback aspirations of the visitors.

His first goal came as a result of a wonderful pass from Glenn Soraghan and the wing-forward proved the game's more influential performer, probing intelligently throughout in addition to amassing five points, four from open play.

He received valuable support in attack from full-forward Tom Keane, who impressed when accruing 1-7 over the hour with the points he secured after the break extremely crucial given their increasingly infrequent sorties into enemy territory.

That the visitors enjoyed a greater degree of possession after the break was down to the concerted efforts of Kevin Diallo and John Layton at centrefield although their direct opponents Jack Dalton and Seán McDaid could justifiably be content with their endeavours over the 60 minutes.

The all-weather surface at Benildus proved ideally suited to two sides committed to open, enterprising football and the two protagonists did not disappoint as they served up a thrilling opening half.

The goalmouth action began as early as the first minute as Adam O'Callaghan denied David McSherry with a fine save but Peregrine's gained reward for their pressure when Layton pointed from the rebound.

Despite Keane levelling matters in the fifth minute, the visitors enjoyed greater fluency to their play initially and after Conor Hynes had restored their lead, Ryan Noble added momentum to their challenge as the flicked cleverly to the net in the 11th minute.

Immediate

The response from Naomh Olaf was immediate as Keane turned sharply before taking his time to outwit Stephen O'Rourke in the away goal as he rolled home a clinical finish from eight yards.

McDaid and Hynes traded scores as the half evolved with Naomh Olaf unfortunate not to take the lead in the 17th minute as Nathan Byrne's powerful drive cannoned to safety off the Peregrine's crossbar.

An excellent score by Jarod Flynn a minute later kept the visitors in front but the hosts assumed control for the ensuing 10 minutes with Joe Rafferty piercing holes in the away defence while Keane became progressively elusive to his marker.

Olaf's kicked six points in succession with Keane and Soraghan sharing five of those scores to complement a fine Rafferty effort as the Balally outfit looked in control of affairs.

However, the visitors concluded the half in a rich vein of form as Karl McEneaney released Diallo for a superb finish to the net while Hynes' point in added time left the bare minimum between the sides by half-time.

Leading by 1-9 to 2-5 at the interval, Naomh Olaf almost had a dream start to the second-half as Rafferty was denied a certain goal through the defensive heroics of Jack Beirnes.

The tightness of the first half was mirrored upon the resumption with Soraghan and Hynes exchanging points early on while another glorious point from Flynn at the end of the third quarter maintained the closeness of the increasingly frantic exchanges.

As a consequence, some challenges bordered on the reckless but both sides harboured genuine ambitions of victory as Keane landed another sumptuous score to match Flynn's and double his side's narrow lead.

Another Soraghan score added to Naomh Olaf's lead but in keeping with the dominant trend, St Peregrine's responded admirably and whittled their deficit to just a point following successive scores by substitute Ryan Farnan and Hynes.

Their efforts proved in vain, however, as Ó Ceallaigh netted at the second attempt in the 55th minute after a brave initial block from O'Rourke and the contest was put beyond their reach two minutes later with Keane the provider on this occasion with Diallo seeing red in the closing stages.

Scorers - Naomh Olaf: T Keane 1-7 (0-2f); M Ó Ceallaigh 2-0; G Soraghan 0-5 (1f); S McDaid, J Rafferty 0-1 each. St Peregrine's: C Hynes 0-6 (4f); R Noble 1-1; K Diallo 1-0; J Flynn 0-2; J Layton, R Farnan 0-1 each.

Naomh Olaf: A O'Callaghan; M Deering, C Kirwan, T McGuirke; F O'Sullivan, R Gallagher, D Coleman; J Dalton, S McDaid; G Soraghan, J Rafferty, C Power Kelly; B Thornton, T Keane, N Byrne. Subs: M Ó Ceallaigh for Power Kelly (24).

St Peregrine's: S O'Rourke; J Beirnes, G Mooney, C Keogh; S McLoughlin, A Leonard, K Cahill; K Diallo, J Layton; R Noble, C Hynes, C Tuite; K McEneaney, J Flynn, D McSherry. Subs: C McCarty for Keogh and R Farnan for McSherry (36).

Mentors - Naomh Olaf: Cathal Soraghan, Darren Ryan, Blaine Begley, Paul Murphy, Stephen Stapleton, Conor Foley. St Peregrine's: Dermot O'Hannigan, Dave McEneaney, Kevin Downey.

Referee: Andy Dolan (Ballinteer St John's).

Wides - Naomh Olaf: 11 (6+5); St Peregrine's: 7 (3+4).

Conditions: Chilly enough but mercifully dry.

Player of the Game: Glenn Soraghan (Naomh Olaf).


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