Thursday 21 February 2019

Roche strike puts an end to DDSL’s bid for eighth title in a row in Kennedy Cup decider

THE NDSL Kennedy Cup class of 2011 finally broke the seven-year reign of the DDSL when they produced a telling display against their Dublin opponents to claim the title amid scenes of joyous celebration for the successful winning camp at Limerick University.

Paddy Roche’s 10th minute goal was all that separated the sides at the end of the game but it was enough to end a 39-match sequence of success for the DDSL who had earned their place in the decider courtesy of a 2-0 win over Cork on Thursday afternoon.

The NDSL had to take the penalty route to success as they fully saw off a fancied Galway side with goalkeeper Brian Smyth the hero with a crucial save alongside a miss eliminating Galway who never conceded from open play in the tournament. Close to 100 games were played in Limerick last week and it’s a testament to the organsiation of Gerry McCormack, Martin O’Hanlon and the SFAI team that puts on the best tounament in schoolboy soccer.

Remakably, Wicklow Schoolboys innocently played a part in the success as Technical Director Mitch Whitty roped in the Garden County boys from an impromptu coaching workshop on the Bowl pitch, setting out the Wicklow boys in an anticipated DDSL format and then working out play patterns and how to counteract 4-4-2 against a 4-3-3 system.

The exercise convinced the NDSL Technical Department that they had the wherewithal to win the game and Whitty took time out in the post match celebrations to personally thank the Wicklow Schoolboys for their assistance. The final itself was a scrappy, disjointed affair with few open passages of play. The NDSL game plan of pressuring the ball forced the DDSL to work hard to win and retain meaningful possession It meant that the ball-retention of the DDSL was considerably reduced and the ‘measured pass’ was of a premium and the NDSL never shirked in their high-tempo pressure game right to the final whistle.

It was talisman Chris Darby, who was arguably the NDSL’s most effective player throughout the week, who finally picked the DDSL lock. His sliderule pass followed after evading three challenges on the wing and as he cut inside at pace in the 10th minute, he set up Roche, who got in for a touch ahead of two DDSL defenders to slip the ball under James Talbot in the DDSL goal.

There was no panic in the DDSL ranks, They had fallen behind against Midlands Schoolboys and came back to win 3-1. Fuhad Sule, in the middle of the park, tried hard to get his side moving but he was constantly harried and chased down. Colm Deasy and Steve Best brought out good saves from NDSL ’keeper Brian Smyth just before Roche wrote himself into the history books with the only goal of the game.

Roche went close again just after the break with a free kick which was well saved by Talbot. At the other end, Dan Casey headed a Troy Cleary corner across the goal and wide. Talbot had to race off his line to clear from Glen Gallagher mid-way through the half and Mark O'Brien fired a shot from the edge of the box over as the NDSL continued to threaten.


It was only when Paddy Obijura was introduced that his pace down the left flank caused problems for the NDSL rearguard. The St Kevin’s man put in a couple of decent crosses, but they were to come to nothing and with Darby chasing back to double up in the marking department, it kept the DDSL constantly looking for ways to get back onto level terms.

Both sides had chances late on, but both Talbot and Brian Smyth showed they were first-class netminders. The final whislte brought incredible scenes of delight for the NDSL players, management and legislators. It also triggered a mini pitch invasion - as other leagues rushed in to celebrate -not so much the NDSL’s win but rather the end of the DDSL’s record run.

The DDSL can take great pride in that record, but the DDSL Kennedy Cup squad also have many talented players and, while clearly disappolinted with the match result, coach John Devine chose to look at the bigger picture. “We’re disappointed alright but this is all about development for the boys and in this respect we feel that we have achieved a lot with this group and they will accept the result and get on with it. Their best days are still ahead of them and they have loads of potential.” For successful manager Karl Carpenter it is a tremendous achievement and one that he will fondly look back on as a career highlight with the NDSL.

With a wink he said: “Who’d have though ‘KC’ would win the ‘KC’”.

DDSL: Talbot, Osam, Casey, Sule, Elsworthy, Brown, Purdy, Deasy, Best, Tiernan (Daly 36) Cleary (Obijuru 45)

NDSL: Smyth, Dempsey, Corbally, Darcy, Fogarty, Clarke, Murphy (Carragher h/t) Darby (Doyle 50) Kearney, O'Brien, Roche (Elliot 55)

Referee: E O'Riordan

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