Shamrock Rovers 4 (Ebbe 2, Connolly, Shannon) Mervue United 1 (Keogh)
FAI Dr. Tony O’Neill Under 19 National League, 27th August, 2011.
History was made at Tallaght Stadium on Saturday when Shamrock Rovers played their first ever game in the new FAI Under 19 League. The occasion proved to be a productive one too for the Hoops but what a shock they got after thirteen minutes when Shane Keogh got onto a misdirected kick out by Paddy Reilly in the Rovers’ goal and made no mistake in grabbing the lead for the visitors. The Hoops had been playing well before that disaster with Lorcan Shannon and Paul Connolly raiding down the wings and strikers Dean Ebbe and Thomas O’Rourke putting Conor O’Malley under a lot of pressure in the Mervue goal. Just before Mervue got that lead goal, Shannon forced O’Malley into making a great save and the ‘keeper barely had time to draw his breath before Ebbe came at him with another shot. Rovers responded swiftly after they went behind when Ebbe, always right in there probing for a weakness, again brought O’Malley into action to deny the Hoops a goal.
Ebbe’s striker partner, O’Rourke, turned defender when he managed to clear a shot from Mark McGrath. The Hoops then enjoyed a spell when they were clearly on top, twice in quick succession they forced corners and when Niall Forrester came into the box to meet the ball centre half Ciaran Fahy had to react quickly to deny the Hoops’ midfielder. In fact, Fahy proved his worth to Mervue after O’Rourke had left O’Malley stranded and the Mervue defender did really well to get the ball away quickly before the inrushing O’Rourke could apply the finishing touch. Fahy and O’Rourke were involved again when the Mervue man fouled the Hoops striker just outside the box. O’Rourke took the free himself, O’Malley palmed it out and Forrester got onto it but couldn’t get his composure right as he headed the ball over the bar. Mervue were under serious pressure at this stage and O’Malley was called into action yet again, this time to bring off a save from Paul Moffat. It was only a matter of time before the equaliser came and come it did in the thirty-fifth minute after O’Rourke had again tested O’Malley and the keeper hadn’t time to steady himself before Ebbe bore down on goal to finish well and make it 1-1. Ebbe was running riot in the box at this stage and had a further two chances before connecting with the ball and delivering a sweet left footed-shot into the back of the net to put Rovers 2-1 ahead. Mervue could harldy dispute that the Hoops deserved to be ahead at this stage as Declan Hevey’s young guns were playing with a confidence that belied their young years.
The second half had only just begun when Paul Connolly made it 3-1 for the Hoops and within six minutes Shannon, finding himself in the centre forward position, produced a wonder strike to make it 4-1. Rovers had begun the second half as they finished the first with Shannon’s constant runs on the right causing untold problems for the opposition, Forrester a powerhouse in the middle and O’Rourke and Ebbe tearing around the box always looking dangerous. Mervue’s cause certainly wasn’t helped by the enforced departure of left back Andrew Daniel but by then the damage had been done. The visitors did try to get back into the game but for Rovers Kenna, who replaced Moffat in the middle of the park after the former went to right full, gave a highly impressive performance. He was joined on the left soon after by Bobo Nkanu. The substitutions proved to be every bit as effective as the players they replaced. With the changes making little or no disruption to the team the Hoops finished strong with Memery’s cross being met by Ebbe but the big lad headed just over. When Nkanu slipped the ball out to Memery the left full set up Ciaran Byrne but his effort too went just over the bar.
Amongst the interested crowd was FAI High Performance Director Wim Koevermans and the performance of a number of the Hoops’ players must have impressed him.
Shamrock Rovers: 1 Paddy Reilly. 2 Dean Power. (Kenna 69 mins) 3 Jack Memery. 4 Garry Comerford. 5 Donal Branagan. 6 Paul Moffat. 7 Lorcan Shannon. 8 Niall Forrester. 9 Dean Ebbe. 10. Thomas O’Rourke (Byrne 77 mins). 11 Paul Connolly (Nkanu 74 mins). 13 Marc Keeley. 14 Ciaran Byrne. 15 Bobo Nkanu. 17 Graham Delaney. 18 Charlie Kenna.
Mervue United: 1 Conor O’Malley. 2 Andrew Higgins. 3 Andrew Daniel (O‘Boyle 50 mins). 4 Ciaran Fahy. 5 Christian Lomboto. 6 Daniel Gorman. 7 Brian Connolly. 8 Ian Batley. 9 Mark McGrath (Nkolovata 72 mins). 10 Shane Keogh. 11 Jamie Fallon. 12 Padraig Kane. 13 Evan Browne. 14 Ryan Lidden. 15 Sean O’Boyle. 16 Sergio Nkolovata. 17 Gaey Patterson. 20 Cillian Murphy
Referee: Rob Clarke. Assistants: Paul McGreal & Darragh Keegan.