Finn Harps 3-0 Shamrock Rovers
The Finn Harps U17s rounded of an absolutely sensational season with an emphatic win over Shamrock Rovers in the National League Final played at Maginn Park. In doing so Declan Boyle’s boys made history on the double in the 2018 campaign. Having already lifted the Mark Farren Memorial Cup in September which saw the squad make history as the first team from the club to win an underage national title, this group of players proved that was no fluke with this super win over the pre-match favourites. Even the Hoops goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, who is joining English Premier Division champions Manchester City next year, could do nothing to stop Harps finding the net three times thanks to well taken goals from Joel Bradley Walsh, Gabriel Aduaka and Conor Black.
Huge credit must go to Declan Boyle and his backroom team for the massive amount of hard work that has been put in with these group of players since last November. The players themselves and their families have shown a great commitment to making 2018 a season that will go down in history as one of the truly great years in the history of Finn Harps Football Club.
Bradley Walsh who got one of the goals in the semi-final win over Galway six days earlier put the hosts in front from a free-kick and then Aduaka made it 2-0 before the break. Early in the second half
Conor Black grabbed a crucial third goal that left Shamrock Rovers in big bother and while the visitors did press hard, Harps defended well enough to deny to keep a clean sheet which was another great achievement in a national decider.
As well as winning in Galway this Harps outfit had also won away against Bray Wanderers in the quarter-finals, so there can be no doubting the ability of this squad to compete at the elite U17 level in the National League.
The first chance of the final fell to Darragh Ellison but the captain’s header drifted wide. The hosts went in front on 19 minutes when Joel Bradley Walsh bent the ball low around the wall and past Bazunu at his near post. Harps had a lucky escape on 31 minutes when James Clarke’s close range shot came back of the crossbar.
Just before the interval Boyle’s boys doubled their advantage when Conor Black did extremely well to dispossess a Hoops defender and find Aduaka who kept his composure to shoot past Bazunu.
Nine minutes into the second half Shamrock Rovers were in put in big trouble when Conor Black went on a splendid individual run before unleashing a magnificent strike that gave Bazunu absolutely no chance. While it was a key moment in the game for Harps the game was by no means over and the visitors certainly hadn’t given up. Shamrock Rovers looked dangerous anytime they came forward so it was great credit to home team for maintaining their focus and defensive discipline to see the game out without conceding a goal.
At the other end Carndonagh lad Luke Rudden who had come on as a late sub almost made it 4-0 but was denied by Bazunu.
Finn Harps – Eoin McGing; Lee McLaughlin, Stephen Black, Joel Bradley Walsh, Darragh Ellison; Jack Doherty (Jamie Doherty 90), Corrie McBride (Dylan Woods 82), Brendan Barr (Adam McCaffrey 71), Gabriel Aduaka (Luke Rudden 90); Conor Black, Ronan Gallagher. Shamrock Rovers – Gavin Bazunu; Martins Olakanye (Dean McMenamy 85), Andrew Spain, Cian Kelly Alex Dunne (Conor Behan 46); Danila Bogdanovs, James Clarke (Jack Kelly 46), Thomas Oluwa, Jordan Tallon (Emmanuel Odeniyi 67); Toby Owens, James Furlong. Ref: Terence Moyne
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