Muirhevnamor 3 Quay Celtic 2
Long-time U17 league leaders Muirhevnamor deservedly clinched the first league title of the season on Saturday afternoon at the Dundalk Sports Centre after this narrow win over a depleted, 10-man Quay Celtic side.
Muirhevnamor always looked in control of this game, but they were made fight all the way by Quay who were missing several players who opted to travel to Sligo to support Dundalk FC. Quay started with nine players, but added another one during the game.
The hosts almost scored in the first minute when a Michael Stokes right-wing pass put Óisín Morrow in the clear, but his shot struck the bottom of the upright.
It was almost 13 minutes before Quay showed any threat down the other end, however, when they did Muirhevnamor had to be on full alert. Thomas Daly’s low shot was blocked by defender Mide Odubanjo after a brilliant mazy run from Daly from the halfway line.
The breakthrough arrived for Muirhevnamor on 20 minutes and it was a soft goal for Quay to concede when Moyo Badun’s free-kick landed at the feet of Seán Hill and he shot spectacularly to the net.
Hill should have scored again two minutes later when he skipped past two defenders, but his shot was too high to trouble Cillian Rice. But Patrick Nicholson made no mistake in the 29th minute from a similar position when he unleashed a pile driver to the top corner of the Quay net to make it 2-0.
It now looked very promising for the champions-elect, but a stubborn Quay team had different ideas and fought back with Daly’s superb pass splitting open the Muirhevnamor defence to set-up Ryan McDonnell, but he dragged the ball wide of the target.
Though, the same player made amends shortly after when he got on the end of another Daly pass to earn a penalty after a blatant foul by Odubanjo. Lee Byrne stepped up to hammer home the resulting penalty past Precious Kent to make it 2-1 at the halfway stage.
The sides should have been level five minutes after the resumption when Ross McNally got in behind the home defence, but he delayed too long, and the chance was lost, and Quay would soon regret that miss when Samuel Olatunbasun burst through a crowded penalty area and forced the ball home at the second attempt to restore Muirhevnamor’s two-goal advantage.
The Quay players didn’t drop their heads and a powerful strike from top scorer Thomas Daly made it 3-2 with 18 minutes remaining. But that was as good as it got for the tired legs of Stephen Savage’s side as crucially Muirhevnamor were able to utilise players from a strong bench to see out the game and they finished stronger as they sought to increase their lead. Nicholson was denied by a fine save from Rice in the 72nd minute and five minutes later Kiitan Amao was unlucky to see his effort clip the top of the crossbar as the hosts earned the victory and the league title.
Muirhevnamor: Precious Kent, Mide Oduhanjo, Óisín Morrow, Samuel Olatunbasun, David Ekperuoh, Oboon Onuorah, Michael Stokes, Cody McAreavey, Moyo Badun, Patrick Nicholson, Seán Hill, Dami Abagun, Kiitan Amao, Seán Flanagan
Quay Celtic: Cillian Rice, Ross McNally, Graham Stevens, Lee Byrne, Josh Reilly, Óisín McCumiskey, Thomas Daly, Sam Abu, Peter Woulfe, Ryan McDonnell
Referee: Paul Malone