British U-17 Football Championship Final
London’s Under 17s followed up the county’s earlier Under 15 victory to complete the double over Warwickshire at Pairc na hEireann on Saturday.
The scoreline doesn’t tell the tale of this game with a kick of a ball all that separated the teams until the last eight minutes of the game.
Warwickshire were the first to open the scoring with full forward Aidan Higgins kicking a point from play in the very first minute. London responded with a pointed free from the boot of Lewis Dickinson a few minutes later.
In a tight and hard-fought opening quarter scores were going to be at a premium, however, a golden opportunity arrived for London after a foul on an attacker going through by Warwickshire corner back Reece Hendrickson, and referee Shane Walsh pointed to the penalty spot.
Up stepped Elliot McPhun, and in something of a trick shot ‘don’t try this at home’ moment his penalty hit the base of the right post, travelled across the goal-line, hit the base of the left post and rebounded back towards him.
McPhun didn’t miss on his second chance and London had their first major of the day.
Dickinson pointed another free for London which was cancelled out by another point from Higgins.
While London had their luck from the posts at the penalty, Warwickshire were to get some luck of their own as a brilliant shot at goal called the London ‘keeper Brendan Prior into action.
Prior attempted to flick the ball over the bar only for it to hit the post and fall into the arms of Higgins, who duly despatched to an empty net to level the scores at 1-2 apiece.
Sean Doyle of Warwickshire was the next name on the scoresheet, pointing from play. Niall Twomey of London then opened up his account for the day with a goal and a point.
Further points were then exchanged via Ciaran Cunningham of Warwickshire and McPhun of London, who punished a mistake from the kick out.
In fact, McPhun was to raise the other flag within minutes, finishing to the roof of the net to put some daylight between the teams. Warwickshire 1-4 London 3-4.
As the clock ticked into the last ten of the half, Cunningham got his second score of the game.
Then a potential game changing moment arrived. After a few manly challenges had crept into the match, referee Shane Walsh showed a red card to London’s Jojo Thabo.
While London took a step back to regroup, Warwickshire stepped it up and after another point from Higgins, the ball was worked to corner forward Niall Doherty to finish to the net.
London rallied and created another chance of a major after beating the ‘keeper only to see the shot cleared off the line by Finn Monaghan for a 45, which was converted by Paul Nevin.
Half-Time; Warwickshire 2-6 London 3-5.
The second half started with points exchanged from Warwickshire’s Louis Monaghan and London’s Dickinson.
London had come to terms with the reduced numbers on the pitch and they tried to pull away after a pointed free from Nevin and a captain’s score from Matthew Joyce.
Warwickshire, however, responded with a brace of their own via midfielder Declan Hayden and full forward Higgins.
With two points between the sides, the next score was going to be key in a game this finely balanced. It was to come for London and from a free kick for Dickinson.
It took all of seven minutes for the next score to arrive and it was again from a free kick this time for Warwickshire via Aidan Higgins, taking his personal tally to 1-5.
The game was set up for a grandstand finish with two points between the sides going into the last eight minutes.
The key moment of the game came when London worked it beautifully into a one-on-one situation, which Tom Hickey in the Warwickshire goals brilliantly saved.
However, the rebound fell to Twomey who despatched to the net to put daylight between the teams.
The wind was taken from Warwickshire and London tagged on two points within a minute from Nevin and McPhun.
McPhun added another point with two minutes to go, and then a major as the final headed for injury-time. Substitute Jack Comer King claimed the last score of the day.
London had finished the stronger and reeled off 2-4 without reply to leave the final scoreline, Warwickshire 2-10, London 5-13, and win back the title that Warwickshire had held last year.