Ruthless Clon’ raise U14 Cup

By Fergus Balfe

STRIKERS Calum Irwin and Leigh Brown led the way as Clondalkin Celtic produced a ruthless performance to outclass gutsy opponents Tallaght Town in the DDSL Under 14 League Cup Final in Frank Cox Park, Rathcoole on Sunday.

A couple of late first-half goals put Celtic firmly in charge, and despite threats of a Tallaght fightback, the influential Irwin completed his hat-trick after the interval before fellow frontman Brown added a brace to seal an emphatic win.

Clondalkin Celtic V Tallaght Town 08 1

Clondalkin Celtic celebrate with the DDSL Under 14 League Cup

Tallaght Town began brightly, enjoying the first chance of the game as winger Daniel McMullen pulled the ball back for midfielder Mark Anderson to strike from the edge of the box, but his effort sailed over.

The energetic Clondalkin side wasted no time in imposing their pressing style on the game, and this was soon rewarded as outstanding midfielder Lee Ledwidge won the ball and forced it through for Irwin to coolly slot home one-on-one.

Despite strong showings from central defenders Jack Campbell and Cian Byrne, along with powerhouse midfielder Abdul Oyebanji, Tallaght were struggling to cope with Celtic’s dogged pressing.

Indeed, the second goal arrived as a result five minutes before the break, as Brown and winger Michael White won possession out wide, before central midfielder Johnny McDonagh found the corner of the net with a precise shot.

An excellent burst through on goal from Ledwidge then almost made it three, but after lifting his shot over goalkeeper Josh Smith, the impressive Campbell got back to brilliantly clear off the line.

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Tallaght Town struggled with the fire power of their opponents

Nonetheless, Celtic’s diminutive midfielder provided the perfect response moments later when he fed Irwin for his second just before half-time.

While Clondalkin were deservedly in front, the 3-0 scoreline was harsh on the battling Tallaght Town, who came out fighting when play resumed, with McMullen drawing a save from Celtic ‘keeper Morgan Friery after a Callum Boyce pass.

Town’s comeback aspirations were given a huge boost soon after, as they found the net when Byrne’s hopeful ball forward fell to Oyebanji to shoot on the turn, and his effort slipped through the fingers of Friery to narrow the deficit.

However, if that goal sparked dreams of an unlikely revival, Clondalkin’s instant reply immediately shot them down, as Brown played in Irwin to round Smith and roll home, completing his treble.

Clondalkin Celtic V Tallaght Town 04 1

Tallaght Town’s Abdul Oyebanji and Clondalkin Celtic’s Lee Ledwidge clash for a loose ball during the DDSL Under 14 League Cup Final in Frank Cox Park on Sunday

This naturally had a deflating effect on Tallaght Town, and the on-song Celtic were enjoying themselves, with skilful striker Brown finally getting the goal his performance deserved, skipping past the ‘keeper after McDonagh’s through pass.

Town continued to commit men forward in search of a consolation goal, going close when Oyebanji found forward Finn Jones in space, but this came at a cost, as they left themselves very open at the back against the rampant Celtic.

This gave Brown the opportunity to capitalise and round off the scoring with a fantastic solo charge, with his powerful run culminating in a composed finish into the corner, before Clondalkin captain Calum Nolan collected the cup.

CLONDALKIN CELTIC: M. Friery, S. Gardner, C. Nuengyo, C. Dobbyns, S. Proudfoot, C. Nolan, L. Ledwidge, J. McDonagh, C. Irwin, L. Brown, M. White. SUBS: D. Mooney, B. Hutchinson, R. Farrelly, S. Beggans, M. Nicholson.

TALLAGHT TOWN: J. Smith, T. Clancey, J. Campbell, C. Byrne, M. Anderson, C. Boyce, A. Oyebanji, S. Craig, F. Jones, A. O’Driscoll, D. McMullen. SUBS: J. Long, E. O’Duffy.

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