,21 May 2014, 7.00pm
Berryfield, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow
SEAFORD ROCK UNITED 4-1 VALEVIEW SHANKILL Kiely (37), Barrett (83, 86), Glynn (90 + 4) - Byrne (80)
Seaford Rock United claimed its first trophy since the formation of the new club in 1997 with a thoroughly deserved win against Sunday Division 2 rivals Valeview Shankill in the final of the Arthur Lynch Cup. At the end of a difficult season for the second team, Paddy Hughes’s men saved by far their best performance for last, edging ahead during a cagey first half before producing a sensational second half display to seal a comfortable victory with a couple of spectacular late goals. Top goalscorer Dan Kiely prodded Seaford into a first half lead, and missed a golden opportunity to double the lead during the second period before Valeview snatched an 80th minute equaliser with their first effort on target. But the navy blues quickly found a second wind and rattled in three goals in the last seven minutes to claim the silverware. Seaford came into the match on the back of a very poor second half to their league campaign, but had shown much better form in the Cup, eliminating Terenure FC, Beechill United and then Woods United, conceding just a single goal in the process. The semi-final at home against Woods had been especially dramatic, as Seaford overcame the dismissal of ‘keeper Ed Ryan early in the second half to grab a 2-1 win courtesy of a spectacular strike by Mike O’Neill. That famous win came at a price, however, as Ryan was suspended for the final, whilst Carl Doyle and Conor Lyons both suffered head injuries which kept them out of action for several weeks. Hughes named an attacking side for the Cup decider, with Kiely returning to the starting line-up to partner Collie Barrett up front, and two natural wingers in Lyons and Peter Glynn. Amer Herenda was only fit enough for a substitute’s berth, so captain Barry Kirwan returned to his traditional position at centre half, alongside John Bannon. The first quarter of the match produced very little goalmouth activity, as both sides struggled to adapt to the large pitch. Valeview mostly threatened from set plays, with fullback Colin Watts and playmaker Graham Gamble whipping in a series of dangerous crosses, which were mostly claimed confidently by Ian MacHugh. Seaford’s best opportunity came when Dave Devaney’s free kick was fumbled by Ross Cannon, but the Valeview stopper pounced on the rebound before Barrett could turn it into the net. Moments later, however, Seaford took the lead. Cutting in from the left wing, Peter Glynn’s shot was deflected into the path of Dan Kiely, who opportunistically toe-poked the ball just inside the post from close range. Valeview’s winger Stephen Carroll ought to have levelled the scores before half time, first heading wide at the back post, and seconds later nicking in between Bannon and MacHugh but diverting the ball inches past the post. A series of stoppages for injuries disrupted the flow of the match during the early part of the second half , but Seaford took control of the game around the hour mark and created a series of good chances. First, Kiely’s square ball was dummied by Barrett, only for Glynn to blaze his shot over the bar from ten yards, before Cannon was forced to come smartly off his line to deny Lyons, and from the resulting corner Kiely’s header was cleared off the line. The best chance of all fell to Kiely on 65 minutes. After being played in by Lyons, he nicked the ball past Cannon and could simply have walked the ball into the net but, losing his balance, he attempted a left-footed finish from 20 yards, only to miss the empty goal by a foot. It was an astonishing miss by a man who has scored almost 50 goals during the past two seasons, and it seemed to give the Greens renewed momentum. Valeview’s captain Mark Byrne missed their best opportunity of the second half when he headed Gamble’s free kick just wide on 70 minutes, but ten minutes later they drew level when Byrne pounced on Jim Nolan’s miscued clearance to slam the ball into the roof of the net from eight yards. It was a body blow to Seaford, who had looked so comfortable in the game. Suddenly their confidence had vanished, with MacHugh’s throw-out landing between Nolan and sub Mark Sullivan, each leaving it to each other and allowing Carroll to pounce on the ball in a very dangerous position, but winger couldn’t find room to get a shot away from the edge of the box, crowded out by Nolan and Bannon. Seaford re-took the lead on 83 minutes when Mark Hanratty, moments after replacing Matt Tappin, made an immediate impact by whipping in a cross from the right wing position, which was deflected into the patch of Barrett, who bravely ducked his head to turn the ball into the net from close range. Valeview barely had a chance to respond before Barrett picked up a loose ball in the centre circle and sped past two opponents to find himself through on goal, and although Cannon got a hand to his shot, he couldn’t keep it out of the top corner of the net. Valeview’s race was run by this point, and the victory was sealed deep into injury time when Mark Lawless found Glynn in space at the corner of the Valeview box. Seaford’s left winger cut inside before curling a right-footed shot past Cannon to make it 4-1. Glynn would go on to pick up the man-of-the-match prize, despite equally worthy claims by his team mates Bannon and Barrett. Moments later, the referee’s final whistle brought about the end of the 2013/14 season, and the first silverware that any current player has ever won at the club. The defensive reliability, tenacious midfield play, ruthless attacking and – above all else – indomitable will to win which the seconds showed on this sunny Wednesday evening have been too rarely seen from Seaford teams during the previous months and years. But it is a testament to manager Paddy Hughes, captain Barry Kirwan and to the character of each and every player who set foot on the pitch in Enniskerry that these were the qualities which came to the fore on the biggest occasion in the club’s recent history. A triumph which was long awaited, hard fought and richly deserved. Seaford Rock United(4-4-2): Ian MacHugh; Jim Nolan, Mark Lawless, Barry Kirwan (c), John Bannon; Matt Tappin (Mark Hanratty, 82), Dave Devaney, Peter Glynn, Conor Lyons (Mark Sullivan, 69); Collie Barrett, Dan Kiely (Amer Herenda, 86). Subs not used: Darren Grealish, Carl Doyle Valeview Shankill (4-5-1): Ross Cannon; Paul Donohue, Colin Watts, Alan Boylan, David Nolan; Eddie O’Toole, Liam Bermingham (Terence McCall, 64), Graham Gamble, Stephen Carroll, Billy Kavanagh; Mark Byrne (c).