RCC 0:0 Ballymahon VS AET

Penalties: RCC 4:5 Ballymahon VS win on penalties

On Friday the 12th of April the RCC U17 boys’ soccer team travelled to Lecarrow, Co. Roscommon to take on Ballymahon VS in the West Leinster Division 3 Final. The teams had met earlier in the season with Ballymahon coming out 3 nil winners, so RCC headed into the final as underdogs and with a point to prove. The game was a tight affair throughout with neither side taking advantage of the chances they were creating. Midway through the first half RCC midfielder Eli Okambawa got onto a pass from Marc Shally and just as Okambawa had knocked the ball past his opponent and was about to break into the Ballymahon box he looked to be dragged down by his opponent. The referee however seen it differently and waved play on much to the disbelief of the RCC players and management. The first half finished with neither team giving up many chances.

In the second half that changed as both teams tried to get a goal which more than likely would’ve won them the game in this tightly contested affair. One of those chances fell to Conor Carley who was unfortunately leaning back when he blazed his shot over the crossbar from six yards after he was found from an RCC corner. Ballymahon immediately counterattacked and broke one on one with the keeper but RCC goalkeeper Nathan Flynn rushed off his line and smothered the shot from the Ballymahon forward. The ball did rebound out and the Ballymahon forward nearly got the opportunity to but the ball into the empty RCC net but was denied when RCC centre back Pierce Fannon forced him wide and recovered the ball and clearing his lines. RCC’s best chance fell to Marc Shally who worked the ball brilliantly down the Ballymahon right hand side and cut in on his left leaving the Ballymahon centre back dead on his feet. Shally looked to curl his shot into the top left-hand corner of the net but was denied by an excellent save by the Ballymahon goalkeeper who somehow kept the shot out.

Both sides tried to get a winner before the end of the second half but neither side could get that elusive goal that game needed so the game went to extra time. The two ten-minute periods of extra time flew by with both sides being extremely cautious as they knew any mistake at this stage of the game would prove fatal for their team’s chances of winning. The full-time whistle went, and it was the dreaded penalty shootout that faced both sides. Each team selected their five takers, and the shootout began. Unfortunately for RCC the first penalty was missed just going past the right-hand post which handed the advantage to Ballymahon VS. To their credit they scored all five of their penalties while RCC scored all four of their remaining penalties, so Ballymahon won the shootout and the final 5-4 on penalties. The RCC U17 boys’ soccer team can look back with pride though as this was the first time the school in its history ever had a U17 boys soccer team and to get to a final was a massive achievement in itself. The team should also be proud of their performance in the final as they put everything into it and made it a very tight contest even though they were the underdog going into the final.

Squad: Nathan Flynn, Joshua Donlon, Caileann Sheridan, Pierce Fannon, Jack Hayes, Conor Carley, Marc Shally, Eli Okambawa, Luke Hayes, Evan McNeill, Rory Connolly Subs: Oisin Kelly, William Staunton, Daniel Hanmore, Eoghan Morris, Callum Leech, Cian Hayes