24 May 2022

Tipperary school lose out in thrilling national soccer final in Athlone

Scoil Ruáin Killenaule are beaten by the odd goal in five

Scoil Ruáin Killenaule

Above: The Scoil Ruáin Killenaule squad that lost to Coola from County Sligo in the national junior B post primary schools soccer final. Back, from left, Sam Rowan, Eoin Treacy, Brian Corcoran, Senan Crowley O’Shea, Niall O’Connor, Finn Nolan, Fieten Harms, Jacob O’Brien, Fionn Fitzgerald, Borja Rodriguez, Luke Ryan, Hjaite Holland, Pablo Yofre. Front, Aaron McGarry, Keelan Strappe, Brandon Ryan Webster, Cillian O’Halloran, Adam O’Connell, Matthew Direen, Alex Greene, Darragh Linnane, Ignacio Rodriguez  

Coola, Co Sligo 3 Scoil Ruáin Killenaule 2

Conditions were perfect in the Athlone Town stadium for the meeting of Scoil Ruáin, Killenaule and Coola Post Primary school from Riverstown, County Sligo in the junior (Under 17) B boys national school soccer final.
Both teams certainly took advantage of the perfect conditions and produced a spectacular final that will be talked about in Tipperary and Sligo for years to come.
The game began in frantic fashion, with both sides having early chances but neither goalkeeper was called into action in the early exchanges.
The team from Sligo held the ascendancy following the ten-minute mark, with most of game being played in the Scoil Ruáin half.
This early period of pressure paid dividends in the 15th minute when Owen Elding rifled the ball into top corner of the Scoil Ruáin net, following a corner routine that was clearly rehearsed on the Coola training ground.
Following the goal, Scoil Ruáin began to grow into the game and heaped pressure on the Coola goal. The tenacious Alex Greene drove his team up the field as they laid siege on the Coola goal.
This period of sustained pressure culminated in a clear-cut opportunity for Brandon Ryan Webster that grazed the crossbar.
The Coola defence was expertly marshalled by goalkeeper Kyle Gabbidon, as the shot stopper commanded his area and claimed a plethora of set-pieces and corners, snuffing out Scoil Ruáin attacks.
Just as the half ended, Scoil Ruáin pushed hard for an equaliser but the compact Coola defence held firm.
As the young men from Tipperary pushed hard up the field in attack, Coola striker Daire Callaghan hung on the shoulder of the advanced Scoil Ruáin defensive line. This strategy proved to be fruitful, as a long clearance from the edge of the Coola box allowed Callaghan to race onto the ball and advance into the Scoil Ruáin box. The Coola ace managed shrug off challenges from Scoil Ruáin defenders and narrowly poke the ball past Adam O’Connell in the Scoil Ruáin net to make it 2-0 going into the break.
The second half began in the same frantic fashion that closed the first. It was abundantly clear that the boys from south Tipperary were determined to grab the initiative and wrestle their way back into the game.
The charge was led by captain Luke Ryan, as the Killenaule man stressed the importance of possession and cool headedness to his teammates.
As the half continued Scoil Ruáin were clearly in the ascendancy and piled the pressure on the Coola backline. This passage of dominance was rightfully rewarded when the referee awarded a penalty, as the ever-industrious Alex Greene was brought down inside the area. Luke Ryan stepped up to the spot and coolly sent the imposing Gabbidon the wrong way to make it 2-1.
A constant feature of the game was the extremely high quality of set-piece delivery from both sides. A number of probing corners and free kicks provided chances for both Scoil Ruáin and Coola throughout the second half.
It was one such set-piece that proved crucial in the 58th minute. A deep, out swinging delivery from Luke Ryan caused havoc in the Coola box, resulting in a goal mouth melee.
The quick- thinking Borja Rodriguez managed to find the ball with an outstretched toe-poke, rolling the ball into the bottom corner among a mass of bodies in the Coola box to leave the contest perfectly balanced at 2-2 heading into the final quarter.
The final quarter was characterised by stout defending by both teams, as it became clear that neither defence was willing to provide their opponents with an easy chance to win this titanic tussle.
It was clear that something special would be needed to claim the title. This special moment was emphatically provided by Owen Elding in the 68th minute. The Coola starlet streaked onto the end of a through ball into the left side of the Scoil Ruáin box and struck a shot from an acute angle. The power and placement of the left-footed strike was perfect and the ball ripped into the right corner of the Scoil Ruáin net in the blink of an eye.
Scoil Ruáin pushed bravely up the field in the final ten minutes in search of another equaliser, but the Coola defence dug in and managed to grind out a nervous win to claim the title.
It was an exciting ending that this truly enthralling final certainly deserved.
Both schools brought hundreds of lively supporters that could all go home satisfied that regardless of the result the players from their side played with passion and brought great pride to their respective schools.

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