Letterkenny Rovers 4 Swilly Rovers 1
BY AIDAN O’DONNELL AT FINN PARK
LETTERKENNY Rovers claimed the U16 Champions League title after comfortably seeing off a tired Swilly Rovers side at Finn Park on Wednesday night.
Goals from Cormac Callaghan, Paddy Diver and an excellent brace from Kieran McPherson helped land the Champions League crown for the Leckview Park outfit, while a second-half Ronan Curtis header failed to ignite a Swilly comeback.
The Ramelton lads appeared a little heavy-legged following their extra-time exertions against St. Joseph’s Boys in a National Cup semi-final last Sunday, while injuries to key men like Jordan Toland, Vinny Piper, Dominic Hull and Kyle Burke did little to help their cause.
Letterkenny, on the other hand, were full of energy and set a tempo that their opponents could never quite keep up with.
Liam O’Donnell’s side got off to the perfect start when, after just two minutes, McPherson slammed home a brilliant opener from twenty yards following a neat knockdown by Irish underage international Chris Flanagan.
The Cathedral Town side continued to dominate the opening exchanges, with McPherson and the influential Dale Gorman, who enjoyed a barnstorming game in the middle of the park, both firing agonisingly wide from the edge of the box.
Letterkenny’s second arrived on thirty-five minutes when a teasing ball into the box by Michael Miller wasn’t dealt with by the Swilly defence, allowing Paddy Diver the chance to tap home unmarked at the back post.
Swilly’s only real chance of the first half fell to striker Ronan Curtis, whose imaginative 25-yard curling effort drifted inches past the top left-hand corner.
Letterkenny all but put the game to bed just three minutes after the restart when Diver teed up midfielder Cormac Callaghan to head home from ten yards out.
Swilly, though, weren’t quite done just yet and were somewhat unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when Adam Serrinha appeared to be impeded inside the area.
And the Ramelton outfit were given a little glimmer of hope when Ronan Curtis powered home a fantastic header from a Nathan McElwaine cross with twenty-three minutes remaining.
However, it wasn’t enough and Letterkenny wrapped up a comprehensive win when McPherson slid the ball home from close range for his second of the game after goalkeeper Caolan Bolton parried Callaghan’s shot into his path.
The win means Letterkenny complete a League and Champions League double this season, following their league play-off win over Swilly at the Aura Centre earlier this year.
Letterkenny Rovers: Jason Quinn; Caolan O’Donnell, Liam Blaney, Ciaran Maloney, Noah Mailey; Paddy Diver, Cormac Callaghan, Dale Gorman, Michael Miller; Chris Flanagan, Kieran McPherson. Subs: Kevin O’Donnell for Miller (70 mins), Kennedy Boachie for McPherson (75 mins), Hugh McDaid for C.O’Donnell (75 mins), Chris O’Donnell for Quinn (76 mins), Caolan McDaid for Gorman (76 mins).
Swilly Rovers: Caolan Bolton; Padraic Ferry, Dylan Quinn, Kyle Burke, Nathan McElwaine; Brandon Toye, Dylan Hegarty, Jordan Toland, Adam Serrinha; Darragh Black, Ronan Curtis. Subs: Gavin Grier (Toland, 32 mins), Duncan Patterson for Burke (half-time), Odhran Coll for Toye (65 mins), Shea Durning for Ferry (69 mins), Shane McGettigan.
Referee: Marty McGarrigle.