Top of The Hill Celtic 4
(Trojans won 4-3 on penalties)
WHILE former star James McClean was busy taking the Premier League by storm at the weekend with Sunderland, his old club Trojans proved their conveyor belt of talent shows no signs of slowing as they claimed the Andrew Gillespie Under-14 Memorial Cup Final in dramatic fashion against Top of the Hill Celtic.
The game began at a great pace, Top of the Hill creating the better openings with Stephen Mills prompting well from midfield and the lively Rory Holden always a threat. After 20 minutes, Celtic took the lead when Trojans failed to clear and Ryan McCloskey took full advantage to fire a great shot beyond the keeper.
Trojans responded well and almost equalised when following a Caolan Cooley free-kick the ball fell to Conor Quigley who saw two shots strike the woodwork before being cleared.
Top of the Hill doubled their advantage early in the second half when Mills found space on the edge of the area and his well placed strike gave the Trojans keeper no chance. At this stage it looked as if Celtic would comfortably see the game out but Trojans made a couple of positional changes and with less than 10 minutes remaining it paid dividends.
Firstly, Cooley got on the end of a Quigley cross to head past the Celtic keeper, Jude Macrory. Two minutes later, the same player worked his way into the box before being up-ended. The referee pointed to the spot and Quigley sent the keeper the wrong way to bring the sides level. Both sides continued to attack but were unable to craft a winning goal before the final whistle.
The opening period of extra-time was only two minutes old when Trojans sensationally took the lead. A neat build-up created an opening 20 yards out for Cooley to curl a beauty beyond the keeper. Trojans held this lead until the first minute of the final period when Top of the Hill’s Blaine Logue took centre stage.
He brought the sides level again when he pounced on a tired clearance to crack a great shot into the top corner. Then, as a visibly tiring Trojans failed to clear, he took full advantage to shoot from the edge of the area with the aid of a slight deflection to put Top of The Hill ahead again.
With the referee looking at his watch Trojans launched one final attack. ‘Man of the Match’ Sean Toland took on and beat the full-back before whipping over a superb cross which was met by Quigley who out-jumped the Celtic defence to head home a dramatic equaliser and the prospect of the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
Both teams missed one penalty each to leave it at 3-3 with one penalty each remaining. Trojans then missed with their last penalty to leave Celtic with the chance to win it with their final penalty. However Trojans keeper Adam Starrs made a fantastic full-length save to keep the scores level and force sudden death. When Trojans scored with their first the pressure was on the Top of the Hill player who unfortunately saw his shot strike the bar and Trojans had won the cup.
For Top of The Hill Celtic there were excellent performances from Stephen Mills, Rory Holden and Ryan McCloskey, whilst for Trojans, Conor Quigley, Joe McColgan, Caolan Cooley and the impressive Sean Toland were outstanding.
Trojans: A.Starrs, S.McLaughlin, J.Doherty, C.Quigley, J.McColgan, C.Doherty, C.Cooley, C.Gormley, A.Fagan, S.Toland, K.Moore. Subs: C.Bradley, J.Devine, D.Taylor, J.McCallion, P.McMonagle.
Top of The Hill Celtic: J.Macrory, N.McIntyre, C.Moore, K.Hargan, C.Higgins, S.Mills, B.Logue, R.Holden, L.Brolly, E.Doherty, R.McCloskey. Subs: J.Storie, S.Doherty, C.Hurley