Two superb strikes from Gareth Kane and a powerfully headed goal from Alan Dunne saw Dundalk Grammar School’s U17 team win the FAI Schools Leinster Junior League Division 2 Final on Tuesday afternoon.
In a keenly contested game, it was a well deserved win for the Dundalk Grammar School over the Navan College side in Oriel Park.
After a nervous opening from both sides, it took 13 minutes before the first chance was created. A Beaufort corner-kick was cleared into the path of Andrew Curley, who fired in a shot from distance that flew narrowly wide of John Burlingham’s left-hand post.
The Dundalk side struggled to settle but finally created a chance on 15 minutes when Tomiwa Baduin raced down the right wing and whipped in a dangerous cross but there was no Grammar player available to take advantage.
The visitors took the lead through Michael Taiwo five minutes later. It came via a long clearance out of the Beaufort defence that was headed on by Daryl Byrne. John Burlingham raced off his line but his clearance cannoned off Taiwo and rolled into the unguarded net.
Dundalk Grammar then bossed the remainder of the half and forced several corners but Beaufort should have doubled their advantage in the 32nd minute with a swift counter attack.
Daryl Byrne split the Dundalk defence wide open with a brilliant penetrating pass into the path of Dylan Doyle. He did the hard work by beating the Grammar goalkeeper but the ball crashed back off the post and was eventually cleared for a major let-off for the home side.
Dundalk responded with a brilliant equaliser two minutes later when Tomiwa Baduin and John Byrne combined to set up Gareth Kane who back flicked a pass - Oliver Giroud style - from Byrne to the corner of the Navan net.
And the Dundalk team went 2-1 ahead a minute before the half-time whistle when Alan Dunne rose highest to powerfully head home another accurate corner-kick from Byrne.
Dundalk Grammar School played with a lot more confidence in the second-half and refused to sit on their one goal advantage. They attacked the Beaufort College team in numbers looking for a two goal cushion to seal the game.
Beaufort’s approach play was also good in the second-half but Dundalk were always able to depend on centre-half Alan Dunne to make the necessary interventions when the ball did make it into the box.
Kevin Carr and Chris Williams both covered a lot of ground in midfield for Dundalk and set up chances for Aaron Khan, John Byrne and Tomiwa Baduin.
Their dominance was rewarded 28 minutes into the second-half when Grammar captain Byrne picked out Gareth Kane just inside the penalty area and his stunning right-footed strike sailed past the helpless Beaufort goalkeeper Karl McHale.
Beaufort rallied in the closing stages and Daryl Byrne had a good chance to reduce the deficit but he dragged his shot wide of the post and right at the end a header by Dundalk substitute Drew Kierans was brilliant saved by McHale to deny Dundalk Grammar a fourth goal.
Dundalk Grammar School U17: John Burlingham, Andrew Clarke, Callum Lawson, Alan Dunne, Conor Orr, Kevin Carr, John Byrne, Chris Williams, Tomiwa Baduin, Gareth Kane, Aaron Mallon Khan. Subs: Aaron McGuigan, Jordan Jackson, Drew Kierans, John McMahon.