Mark Higgins 33' -
Sheriff YC managed to put the disappointment of last years defeat in the final of the FAI Junior Cup behind them with a 1-0 win this time round against Pike Rovers at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
It was a Mark Higgins header in the first half following a brilliant cross from Captain Paul Murphy that was the difference, despite numerous missed chances for the Dublin team.
Sheriff came into the match as heavy favourites and they lived up to the billing as the first chance of the game fell to Higgins, who saw his shot blocked after some good work from Darren Dunne six minutes in.
Sheriff were looking to to dominate the midfield battle early on and on 13 minutes when Dunne had his shirt pulled in the box they had a credible shout for a penalty but the referee, Jonathan Walsh, waved play on.
Pike Rovers were struggling to get into the game but after a great one-two from Cian Collins down the left, he came into box dangerously and managed to force a corner for Rovers, which they couldn’t take advantage of.
Stephen McGann then tried his luck from range as he skied a speculative effort over the bar from 30 yards as we approached the half hour mark.
Sheriff began to take control again and wasted a huge chance to go ahead. A free kick at the edge of the box dropped just outside the edge of the box for talisman Jonathan Rock, but he somehow put his shot over the bar.
It wasn’t long before the Dublin team took the lead though. Paul Murphy gathered the ball on the right before he launched a beautiful ball in from the right and Mark Higgins did brilliant to get his head on it as he rised above Wayne O’Donovan at the back post to head past Gary Neville.
Pike were delighted to get to half time and before the second half resumed they brought on Jason Mullins for Shane Walsh in a bid to get back into the game.
It was Sheriff, however, who regained the upper hand upon the restart. 50 minutes in, the crowd couldn’t believe it’s eyes as Darren O’Brien missed a staggering chance to go 2-0 up. After initially doing well to get the ball past Goalkeeper Neville, the ball hung in air five yards out and O’Brien managed to put it over the bar. It was an astonishing miss.
Despite better posession, Rovers continued to struggle after a couple of substituions. On 69 minutes, they had half a chance as a set piece from O’Malley saw Sean O’Callaghan head over the bar.
As Rovers streamed forward in search of an equaliser, Sheriff were threathening on the break and on 82 minutes Murphy was put through on the right and his goal-bound shot was blocked by Mullins.
As the final whistle loomed Rovers through everything at Sheriff and their best chance fell to O’Callaghan as after a set piece, he turned just inside the box and saw his low effort glide past Lee Murphy’s post.
This was the best that Rovers could manage and after four minutes of injury time the final whistle sounded for full-time and Sheriff were Champions. On the balance of play, Sheriff will feel it was deserved and Rovers did well to keep it to one goal conceded.
Sheriff YC: Lee Murphy, Paul Murphy, Kevin Lynch, Anthony Kavanagh, John Lester, Joe O’Neill, Sean Murphy (Stewart Glen 83’), Darren O’Brien, Darren Dunne, Jonathan Rock, Mark Higgins (Thomas Dunne 79’)
Booked: Darren Dunne (88)
Subs Not Used: Joe Flood, Stephen Murphy, Jeff Flood, Stephen Larkin, Peter Halpin
Pike Rovers: Gary Neville, Wayne o Donovan, Ed o Donovan, Patrick Mullins, Sean O Callaghan, Wayne Colbert, Cian Collins, Stephen McGann (Paddy O’Malley 61’), John Connery, Gary higgns (Colin Daly 55’), Shane Walsh (Jason Mullins 45’)
Subs Not Used: Eoin Hanrahan, David Ryan
Referee: Jonathan Walsh
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Mike Higgins (Sheriff YC)