U-14 SFAI Goodson Cup
Sun 2nd Feb. 04
Castleknock Celtic 4 Willows FC 2
This Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland Goodson Cup fixture was the only schoolboy match to survive the awful weather this weekendin Porterstown. The pitch was in good condition in the circumstances. But the rain and wind made football very difficult. As has happened so often in the past, trying to come from behind in the second half with a gale at your back can be little advantage.
Willows looked good in the early stages, and one would not have bet against them. They appeared to have a big advantage in stature. And they looked all the more likely when after 17 minutes, Willows' Fergal Farrelly, after a lapse in the Celtic midfield, seized on an opportunity to give keeper Robert Hoare no chance. 1-0 Willows.
Ian Whelan was proving very commanding in the Willows defence. But gradually Celtic came more and more into the game. Then 2 minutes before half-time, Philip Carroll charged down the Willows' defender's attempted clearance. Philip let fly with his left foot, and it was perfectly placed wide of the keeper, Keith Ward. This gave the home side a great boost. But it was even better for them within a minute, when a perfect through ball from David Hunt, was picked up by the elusive Stephen Dervan, who was deadly with the finish. 2-1 Celtic at half-time.
Willows were confident starting the second half that they could recover from the goal deficit with the strong wind at their backs. But after 11 minutes of the half, they were delivered a crushing blow. An ill-timed tackle left Barry Flanagan on the deck in the box. Referee Bernard Donnelly did not hesistate in pointing to the spot. Philip Carroll full of confidence gave young Ward no chance with his shot low to the keeper's left corner.
Willows were still up for the fight. They pressed on and on. It was all hands to the pump in Celtic's defence. Emmet Walters and Barry Breen were equal to almost everything that came at them. Fintan O'Sullivan, one of the smaller players on the park, worked tirelessly in the right full slot. Willows went oh so close after 15 minutes, when David Dunne was just wide with his free kick, after the industrious Darragh Ryan was unluckily adjudged to have fouled.
After 20 minutes, Celtic showed that they still were very dangerous on the break. Stephen Dervan raced from his own half, and set up Philip Carroll, who was just foiled by the excellend Keith Ward. Willows responded immediately. Peter Toal rifled home their second, after Keith Hennessy set him up. It looked ominous for Celtic at this stage, with the wind blowing harder, and their legs getting more tired. But David Hunt was playing a captain's role, covering every blade of grass on the park. He was ably assisted by Simon Darcy and Darragh Ryan.
Celtic's Philip Carroll was just denied by Keith Hennessy in the closing stages. But the final nail was delivered 5 minutes from time, when Philip again chased what looked like a lost cause on the far right. He crossed for full back, Eoin Naughton, who had popped up in the Willows' box. He beat one player and gave keeper Keith no chance at his near post. There was just time for Robert Hoare to show why he is in the NDSL Representative Team when he tipped over at full stretch a fierce shot from the Willows' striker. Final score 4-2 to Celtic.
This was indeed a great victory. Celtic the underdogs from the B-league took another A-division scalp, after putting Dunboyne out in an earlier round. Philip O'Sullivan, manager of Celtic's senior AUL team, standing in for John O'Reilly, was delighted. "This was the result of very hard work put in by all the players in the squad, and full credit is due to them all and manager John O'Reilly, who has worked intensely with them since last August."