Benildus' late bloomers
Stillorgan boss MacEoin hails his seniors coming of age by avenging Athlone at long last
ST BENILDUS COLLEGE 3 ATHLONE CC 0
ST BENILDUS College ended a nine-year wait to sit on top of the schools soccer tree again last Friday when they brushed aside Athlone Community College in the FAI Schools Senior Boys Cup Final.
Rarely in their rich history of success in soccer have the Dublin school had to wait so long to even reach a provincial final at senior level, but this year's group capped a bumpy road with a 3-0 win at Leixlip Amenities Centre.
The same group of players were narrowly seen off in the semi-final of the Under 16 cup two years ago by eventual winners St Kieran's College, while they were humbled in the Under 14 showpiece four years ago by none other than ... Athlone CC.
Benildus avenged that result last Friday thanks to a first-half goal and two strikes in the second period that left manager Oisin MacEoin delighted.
MacEoin has been involved with soccer in the Kilmacud school for 16 years, guiding sides in 2000 and 2002 to Leinster glory, and admits sports plays a huge part in life at Benildus.
"That's the thing, really the main sport in the school is Gaelic football, so it is incredible that we have been so successful in soccer," he said. "We have had huge success in Gaelic football in the past few years and we are going for our third Dublin 'A' title in a row.
"But to be fair to the principal, management and all the teachers involved, we have a very well organised school and we have a sports council.
"It meets once a month at lunchtime on a voluntary basis, is very democratic and all the sports are really given equal finance.
"Gaelic games probably does take up most of the interest but we have had some great soccer teams and this team are right up there with the best.
"Some other teams have dominated at each age group but this team has grown and have been late bloomers, culminating in this win."
Winger Paul Mannion gave Benildus a deserved lead against Athlone -- who were making their provincial senior final debut -- on 27 minutes, when he cut into the box and curled an effort into the far corner of Conal Sheehan's net.
The lead was crucially doubled just after the break when Mannion raced down the left and put in a low ball across the face of goal, which was finished by Paul Connolly.
Daniel Byrne rounded off the win with a spectacular long-range lob in the 90th minute.
ST BENILDUS: Keith Finn, Michael Rogers, Stephen McAuliffe, Taigh Healy, Karl McGrath, Ben Meegan, Adam Byrne, Conor Butler, Paul Connolly, Daniel Byrne, Paul Mannion. Subs: David Byrne for McAuliffe (50), Conor Day for A Byrne (50), Ceelam Simon for Mannion (81). Not used: Donal Butler, Mark Brennan, Eamon Rowe.
ATHLONE CC: Conal Sheeran, Mark O'Connor, Ronan Morris, Ian Dempsey, James Shaughnessy, Joe Woods, David Brooks, Robbie Murray, Emmett Kenny, Shane Blackwear, Eoin McCormack. Subs: Ray Connellan for McCormack (61), Ian Rooney for Kenny (80). Not used: Conor Rowan, Mark Langtry, Conor Daly.
REFEREE: John Clarke.