St Patricks Athletic under 17's succumbed to an undeserved 3-1 defeat at home to local rivals Crumlin United at Bunting Road in the semi-final of the cup.
Crumlin began the game as overwhelming favourites, with one informed onlooker deeming them “one of the best if not the best team in Ireland at their age”. And after 15 minutes of football, it looked like the Saints could be in for a heavy defeat as they fell two goals behind after two headers, the first from Cian Stafford and second converted by Kevin Caldwell.
The home side knew they had to up it after such a sluggish start and that's exactly what happened. They began to play good intricate football with Jonathan St Ledger pulling the strings in the middle of the park. Yet with all their attacking there were little chances of not created.
Still with nothing created, the Saints won a free kick midway through the first half and midway into the Crumlin half of the pitch. Gavin Devereux had a crack and fired a thunderbolt of an effort into the bottom corner of the net - A lifeline given to his side from the most difficult of positions.
Bonifice Odemeni had an effort soon after that seemed destined for the net as the hosts remained on top of their supposedly superior opponents.
Referee John Clarke, who also officiated the U18's earlier in day, made some questionable decisions, especially with the booking of Devereux, who made a fabulous crunching challenge on the half-way line.
St Patricks continued to press for an equaliser during the second half and apart from an early Crumlin United counter- attack, they were camped in the away team's half, but there was very little creatively to trouble a stern United defence.
Crumlin as a unit were very solid, but were put under pressure by Pats and therefore couldn't play any football on the ground. Each clearance went to a red and white shirt as the home team came at them.
The best opportunities for the Saints were coming from set pieces Stephen Maloney and Karl Malone were a constant threat.
The star player for Pats on the day was midfield maestro St Ledger who kept his side ticking and was involved in everything positive that happened for his team.
However his attempts were futile; as Crumlin eventually broke with a swift counter-attack involving Mark Sandford, and Sam Verdon crossing for a goalmouth scramble. The last touch of the ball before it crossed the line seemed to come from the unfortunate Pat's keeper, Stephen Dunne, who was otherwise faultless in the game.
The goal came after 85 minutes and the match petered out, with Crumlin keeping the ball around the back four and frustrating St Pats.
St Patrick's players and managers will feel they deserved so much more out of this game, but they left nothing on the pitch. They worked tirelessly and controlled for the majority of the game. However similarly to the under 18's they didn't create enough good chances.
St Pat's manager Billy Shortt had this to say about the game: “I think we deserved more. We had about 90% of the game and only for two mistakes early on, it could have been different. I thought the second half we really bossed, but we stepped back too far and that's how they caught us. When we play Crumlin we don't seem to have any luck. I thought we were very, very good today. The lads will be disappointed but we have to move on.”
St Patricks Athletic: S Kelly; G Hoey, S Maloney, K Malone, S Dunne, Armstrong, G Devereaux, R McKenna, J Murray, J St Ledger, B Odemeni. Subs – K Forrest for K Malone and D Mullen for J Murray.
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