Keith Dunne kept his cool to convert the all-important penalty as Sheriff YC successfully defended the FAI Junior Cup at the Aviva Stadium 5-4 on penalties after the game with Kilbarrack United finished scoreless..
Having beaten Kilbarrack in last year’s final, Sheriff were determined to repeat the feat but their task was made harder when David Browne was sent off and the game had to be settled by a penalty shoot-out.
Ever since Brideville FC first won this competition back in 1923, there have been some memorable finals and this was no exception as it provided thrilling entertainment as an opener to the Republic of Ireland’s friendly with Georgia.
Eager to strike the first blow, Kilbarrack captain John Meleady forced Sheriff goalkeeper Lee Murphy into a superb save after roaming forward from midfield and striking well on 13 minutes.
Sheriff attempted to turn the tide in their favour with John Rock going close with a header that Kilbarrack keeper Mark Hatton did well to palm away and prove that he was just as alert as Murphy.
It was another Murphy who then stirred things up when Sean tumbled inside the opposition’s penalty area claiming that he had been fouled, but referee David Jameson ignored the protests.
As expected between these Dublin rivals, the game was end to end with neither able to seize control. And that led to several chances for either team with both keepers producing excellent saves for their respective sides.
Sheriff shot-stopper Murphy did brilliantly to deny Eamon Mulligan on 35 minutes before Hatton came to the fore with three huge saves from Dunne, Rock, and Stephen Murphy in quick succession.
Making the most of their set-pieces, Sheriff pinned their opponents back inside their own half in the latter part of the first period and Joseph O’Neill almost squeezed a shot in at the back post – only for Gavin Gaughran to clear the danger.
All level at the break, the two teams emerged for the second period a little wiser as to how to play on the big pitch and what way they wanted to approach things in front of a large crowd.
However, on 52 minutes the game was thrown wide open when Sheriff defender David Browne was sent off for bringing down Mark Townley when he was the last man back for his team.
Despite being a man down, Sheriff showed a lot of fight and kept pushing for that first goal with Dunne letting rip from distance, but Hatton was in a good position to deal with the shot.
On 70 minutes, referee Jameson made a big call when awarding a penalty to Kilbarrack following Anthony Kavanagh’s foul on substitute Mark Geraghty. But Meleady fired the resulting spot-kick wide.
Into the closing stages, it was still too difficult to call a winner as substitute Alan McCabe went close for Sheriff, while Dunne almost snuck in on 87 minutes following a rare mistake by Hatton.
After a failure to score in extra-time, the game needed to be decided by a penalty shootout. First up was Kilbarrack captain Meleady, who fired wide, before Sheriff substitute Darren Dunne converted his spot-kick to give the Hoops an advantage.
With tension building, Alan McHugh smashed in for Kilbarrack and Kavanagh hit back for Sheriff, then Mark Mooney and McCabe were spot on, before Sean Beresford and keeper Lee Murphy both scored, while Aaron Humphries netted but Dunne smashed in for Sheriff to win 5-4 on penalties.
That dramatic finish was exactly what this final deserved as Sheriff wrapped up a memorable campaign by keeping hold of the Cup and bringing it back across the River Liffey again.
KILBARRACK UNITED: Hatton; Byrne, McHugh, Mooney, Gaughran; Jackson (Beresford 74), Gibbons (Humphries 88), Meleady, Townley, Mulligan (Geraghty 63); Kirwin.
Booked: Gibbons 68.
SHERIFF YC: L Murphy; P Murphy, Kavanagh, Browne, O’Brien; O’Neill, Stephen Murphy (D Dunne 68), Kane (Lynch 82), Sean Murphy; K Dunne, Rock (McCabe 73).
Booked: Kavanagh 70, Sean Murphy 99.
Sent Off: Browne 52.
Referee: D Jameson (Wicklow).