SOCCER: Cork City FC claim SSE Airtricity National U17 League title

30 October 2017
By Bryan Smyth
bryan@TheCork.ie

Cork City 0-0 Bohemians (4-2 pens)

For the second week in a row, Cork City were lifting SSE Airtricity League silverware at Turner’s Cross as their Under 17 team overcame Bohemians in a pulsating final that had to be settled by a penalty shoot-out.

Somehow, after 120 minutes of action, the game ended scoreless as Cork defender Jamie O’Sullivan performed heroics in the final minutes of normal time to deny Bohemians. But goalkeeper Alan Kelleher saved two penalties in the shoot-out to claim the title for Paul Bowdren’s side.

It was a tense affair in front of a crowd of 657 spectators that included Cork City manager John Caulfield and several members of the first-team squad who will be contesting the Irish Daily Mail FAI Senior Cup Final this Sunday.

Cork had a number of chances at the start of the second half and really should have taken the lead when a lofted ball forward found striker Cian Murphy, who then turned defender Denis Smith but his powerful effort was well saved.

Bohemians started to create chances of their own and could have gone ahead with just over 20 minutes remaining. Substitute Liam McGrath collected a loose ball in the penalty area but after a neat turn his shot was blocked as far as Jordan Maguire, who looked to find the top corner but forced a one-handed save out of Kelleher.

The Dublin club continued to attack in the final stages as McGrath’s cross from the right found striker Lido Lotefa but defender O’Sullivan was able to put the Bohs striker off from making any telling contact.

O’Sullivan was at the centre of the action again in the 87th minute when substitute Francky Haba flicked a cross towards goal but the Cork ace was able to overhead kick the ball off the line.

However, O’Sullivan went one better again. As Bohs broke on the counter attack, Lotefa hit a low cross against the post and the ball fell to Sean McManus, but O’Sullivan somehow cleared the danger off the line with a diving header.

Neither side could find a breakthrough in normal time or added time, so the contest needed to be decided on penalties. Cork keeper Kelleher proved to be the hero as his team celebrated in front of their home crowd.

Cork head coach Bowdren said: “I’m extremely proud of the players. We’ve struggled to keep clean sheets this season but we defended brilliantly and maybe rode our luck at times.

“It was a fantastic final and full credit has to go to Bohemians who were brilliant. Someone has to win on penalties and todays it was us – and the players did excellently to score all of the penalties.

“It says a lot about the characters of the players to come through such a difficult game and win the title. It’s an excellent way to finish the season in what has been an excellent League. The standard has continually improved over the years and today’s final shows that.”

Cork City: Kelleher; Leahy, Lynch, O’Sullivan (O’Riordan 108), O’Mahony (O’Sullivan 55), Doyle (Djomo 90), Bargary, van Sinderen (Holland 74), Collins, Bowdren (Minihane 84), Murphy.

Bohemians: Bohan; Trehy (Hennessy 75), Smith, Curley, Byrne, Kelly, Okpako (McGrath 68), Maguire, Lotefa, Moylan (McManus 78), Nwaokolo (Haba 62).

Referee: Kevin O’Sullivan.

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