Wesley ride luck to annex Senior Cup

Senior Cup final: St Andrew’s 1 (David Watkins) Wesley College 1 (David McCrea), Wesley win 4-3 on penalty strokes
Conor Quinn’s goalkeeping heroics saw Wesley College claimed their sixth Leinster Schoolboy’s Senior Cup title in seven years at Belfield, ending St Andrew’s one year reign as champions.

He saved two penalty strokes in the shoot-out as well as producing a full-length dive to deny David Cole a winner two minutes before the end of extra-time, a strike which almost certainly would have won the day.

Those blocks allowed Kirk Shimmins – a Junior Cup winner last week – to hold his nerve and complete the win with his side’s fourth successful stroke.

Indeed, they used their get-out-of-jail-free card in a number of respects after a slick first half performance was countered by St Andrew’s smart tactics.

Early on, Fiachra Maher was the first to threaten, twice denied by a diving Wesley stick with David McCrea and Kirk Shimmins showing their passion for the battle.

A brilliant Andrew’s move from the back gained 80-metres in the blink of an eye with David Watkins’ deflection palmed over the bar by Quinn.

Wesley, though, were producing some well-worked short-passes and worked the ball to key man Alan White in advanced positions.

Punching holes down the left-wing, he created an opening for Jonathan Roberts who was twice blocked by Jakim Bernsden before the second rebound drew a foul for the Ballinteer school’s third corner. McCrea shot home a low drag-flick for the opening goal in the 23rd minute.

Andrew’s were unshaken, though. Their press yielded well-placed possession, especially through Lee Cole down the left. One of his crosses skipped just between Jake Beirne and Maher while a reverse cleared the bar.

That flow continued into the second half as Wesley seemed to stretch their game unnecessarily. Two corners came and went before Watkins stole and swept the ball to the right-wing to Maher. His return-cross was slightly over-cooked as Watkins steamed forward but his dive could only get a desperate stick under the ball and it looped up over the bar.

For all Andrew’s pressure, Tom Samuel had the chance to seal the deal in normal time but two committed defenders squeezed him out.

Five minutes from time, the equaliser did come. It was simple in its execution as Wesley were light numbers at the back as Oisin O’Halloran was let free on the right-wing. He looked up to see Watkins – the 2010 Senior Cup hero – racing toward goal and the diagonal pass into the circle was weighted perfectly to allow enough transfer of power into the roof of the net.

It secured extra-time, a period in which Samuel’s reverse was blocked by Bernsden. The Booterstown school continued to press forward in extra-time and, when Wesley coughed up a late penalty corner, they had their sights on a winner.

But Cole’s strike was brilliantly tipped around the post and Quinn took that confidence boost into the penalty competition, saving two of the first three Andrew’s efforts.

St Andrew’s: J Bernsden, I Moloney, J Codd, R Nair, D Cole, C Stephens, J Beirne, F Maher, O O’Halloran, L Cole, A Rooney, M Loughrey, E Foy, D Watkins, A Service, B Campbell
Wesley College: C Quinn, D McCrea, B Chadwick, R Clarke, R Burke, M Lewis, T Samuel, K Shimmins, A Malcolm, A White, C Pullen, A Roberts, S Madeley, L Madeley, J Roberts, R Fitzgerald

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