Ciarán ‘Gazza’ O’Connor coolly slotted in a 79th-minute penalty as Dundalk Youths made it third time lucky by capturing the Ferrari Cup with a 2-1 win over Saint Kevin’s Boys in the decider at the AUL Complex on Sunday afternoon.
On a busy finals day at the AUL, the match officials were delayed by 40 minutes at another game.
But that long wait did little to disrupt Dundalk, and they were ahead in the opening moments, with Duffy’s through-ball finding Craven who, from inside the box, superbly fired past the ‘keeper.
On six minutes, Kevin Nolan’s free-kick flew narrowly wide of the top corner as Alan Browne’s side chased a second.
Then, from a St Kevin’s corner, Dundalk broke well through O’Connor, with right-back Manny Kaguako’s cross finding Craven at the back post. However, after a good first touch, the winger just failed to get a shot away.
Midway through the half, it was the turn of Duffy to try his luck from a set-piece, with his 25-yard free-kick going inches over.
Backed by a strong breeze, Dundalk continued to go forward, and they went close again past the half-hour when Duffy’s delivery into the area found the head of Cody Magill but Farrelly got across to push it behind.
At the other end, Cillian Mulligan brilliantly blocked an O’Reilly shot after St Kevin’s had looked set to pounce.
And right on half-time, the Whitehall-based side thought they had levelled when Franzoni headed towards the top corner from six-yards, only for Connolly to somehow tip the ball over.
But St Kevin’s were on terms just three minutes after the break when O’Reilly’s shot hit Franzoni on the way, with the ball looping over the Dundalk ‘keeper.
The Lilywhites almost replied immediately when a Kierans cross from the left nearly curled into the far corner, but Farrelly got enough of a touch on it to bring it onto the poSt
On 56 minutes, Dundalk should have been back in front when Davies capitalised on a defensive lapse from Sam Gavin, but with just the ‘keeper to beat, he blazed over.
Seán Leavey’s shot went the same way for St Kevin’s, and then Connolly showed good awareness to come out and get to the ball first ahead of Sven Biansubo who had raced beyond Paul Finnegan.
Crossbar to the rescue
Franzoni’s header hit the crossbar on 62 minutes as St Kevin’s again threatened, while at the other end Farrell and O’Connor caused problems, the latter’s shot taking a deflection and looping into the grateful arms of Farrelly.
Finnegan then headed just over from a Davies corner, before Farrell drilled wide with a first-time shot from the edge of the box after a pass from another substitute Michael Gray.
With 16 minutes left, St Kevin’s could not have gone closer as O’Reilly connected with a cross, his effort flashing agonisingly wide of the upright.
In a lively second period with both sides attacking at will, O’Connor played in Davies on the right of the box but, again one-on-one, this time Farrelly did well to block behind.
The decisive moment, though, arrived on 78 minutes when O’Connor was brought down in the area by the ‘keeper, and the young striker stood up to tuck away his 16th goal of the season.
The winning margin could have been greater as, with St Kevin’s pushing men forward, Farrell found himself through, but Farrelly was once more equal to the task.
However, that did not matter as Dundalk saw out the game to seal the trophy and put the disappointment of the past two years in this competition firmly behind them.
SAINT KEVIN’S BOYS: Darren Farrelly, Aaron O’Neill, Eoin Kinsella ©, Dylan McLoughlin (Derek Moore 81), Sam Gavin, Seán Leavey (Breen McDonagh 58), Bobby O’Reilly (Dylan Kelly 81), Glenn Hoey, Eoin Byrne, Sven Biansubo, Corey Franzoni.
DUNDALK YOUTHS: Johnny Connolly, Manny Kaguako, Paul Finnegan, Cillian Mulligan, Roy Kierans, Barry Davies, Kevin Nolan, Cody Magill (Glen Farrell 52), Scott Craven (Michael Gray 68), Ryan Duffy ©, Ciarán O’Connor.