This game had everything, six goals, sending off, penalties, good football, and winner in injury time, great weather and immaculate pitch, writes Pat McNally.
FAI Under 18 Youths Inter League
Tipperary South: 4
Kildare Youths: 2
Yes after weeks of inactivity it was great to play again – and thanks to St Kevin’s AFC in Two Mile Borris who had the pitch in pristine condition for this FAI Youths Game – the winners of which qualified for the quarter final of the Youths Inter League.
Due to the importance of this game – one might have thought that it would start slowly with each team feeling one another out. Nothing could be further from the truth and both teams entertained the crowd with scintillating football from the first minute until the ninety sixth minute.
Kildare were first to show and after five minutes a well taken free kick by Anto O’Keeffe was met in the box by Conor Delahunty and his header went narrowly wide.
The game was being played in midfield with Anto O’Keeffe and Abdul Babiker from Kildare giving as much as they got from Graham Kelly John O’Connor and Luke Trimble from Tipperary.
The see sawed from one end to another – after twenty minutes a good move between O Keeffe and Harry Sunderland left Delahunty in the clear but his well struck shot was always rising and went over the bar.
Within two minutes Tipperary danger man Ashley Laslett had two good chances one which went over the bar and one where he tried unsuccessfully to chip Ciaran Behan in the Kildare goal.
Laslett proved to be a handful all afternoon with his pace and speed.
Kildare were lucky after thirty minutes when Aidan Croke was fouled on the edge of the box and the resulting free kick taken by Michael Nugent went narrowly wide.
Tipperary were beginning to force their will on the game and the Kildare defence were under severe pressure. It was no surprise when Tipperary went in front after great work down the wing by Rory Maher left him in on goal and with the Kildare defence expecting a shot he cleverly pulled the ball back for Aidan Croke to stroke home for the opening goal.
The second half saw Kildare come more into the game and after twelve minutes Dylan Merriman was taken down in the box and Evan Herd stepped up to hit home to level matters.
After 21 minutes Tipperary went in front when after a corner kick Ian Doyle handled on the line leaving the referee with no option other than producing the red card and awarding a penalty kick.
Tipperary converted the penalty despite the great efforts of Behan in the Kildare goal.
Rather than fall behind Kildare garnered themselves and produced their best football of the afternoon and after twenty four minutes following a long kick out Evan Herd pounced but he was matched by a super save by Tipperary ‘keeper John Keenan.
Kildare kept attacking and having one three at the back were rewarded when Abdul Babiker go his head to a cross ball to bring the teams level.
With time running out the Kildare legs gave way – a combination of weeks of inactivity and being reduced to ten men paid dividends and Tipperary scored two goals via Pierce Cleary and Harry O’Connor in the 48th and 50 minute of the second half.
And so ended a fascinating game with good shows from Aaron Fattore, Ben Foran, Abdul Babiker and Conor Delahunty while for Tipperary they had the man of the match in Ashley Laslett ably assisted by Graham and Stephen Kelly while in the middle of the pitch Luke Trimble played a starring role.
Ciaran Behan, Mark Ormsby, Aaron Fattore, Jamie Harte, Ben Foran, Abdul Babiker, Jordan Harmon, Anthony O’Keeffe, Conor Delahunty, Ian Doyle, Harry Sunderland. Subs: John Murphy, Kevin Naughton, Alex Sealy, Jordan Murphy, Evan Herd, Kevin Lambe.
John Keating, John Carew, Harry O’Connor, Graham Kelly, Stephen Kelly, John O’Connor, Michael Nugent, Luke Trimble, Ashley Laslett, Rory Maher, Aidan Croke. Subs: David Kinnanae, Pierce Cleary, Danny Hogan, Sean Bergin.