A cracking Munster youth final that provided all the thrills and spills of a big cup decider was played out on an afternoon where the four seasons all made an appearance in the sunny south east at Ozier Park.
Ballingarry and Villa were both looking for that elusive, historic win that would propel them to best youths team in munster, and despite all the pre match nerves the players delivered a hard fought, but fair and very competitive 110 minutes of football.
Villa settled better and Owen Oseri proved a live threat and when he and Salim Ahmed combined Villa threated the opener, but Oseri shot wide and was also denied by a brilliant Tangney block. The suirsiders continued their attacking start and perhaps should have led when Walsh’s cross was met by Jake o Connor who flashed an effort over.
Ballingarry settled and composed themselves and started to threaten, the industrious Lee Madigan was yellow carded when he tried to force a foul inside the box and Molloy and Reidy were starting to find gaps , Molloy in particular when he fired wide on 37 minutes, just before Conor Walsh’s free kick edged over the bar.
Half time 0-0 and this game was in the melting pot.
The second half was just as tense, two sides, full blooded and not conceding an inch but there were chances. The tricky Oseri waltzed past two players before teeing up Ahmed who was brilliantly denied by Jack Molloy who was commanding his goalmouth brilliantly with his back 4 very resolute in defence.
Ballingarry were playing on the counter, Molloy’s quick kick outs were causing problems and from one the Limerick side could have broken the deadlock as Molloy turned his man inside the area only for Searson to save well with his feet.
Ciaran Tangney headed wide from a corner and David Geary had an effort saved by Searson while Madigan shot straight at the Villa netminder from 18 yards.
Full time 0-0 and both sides didn’t deserve anything less
Extra time was frenetic, the first period saw Villa force 5 corners, all defended superbly by Ballingarry who’s pre match planning proved to be spot on on the day.
The game exploded into life in the 2nd period of extra time, 2 goals, 2 red cards but the same outcome, the sides couldn’t be separated.
Ballingarry drew first blood, a corner swept in from the left was met by sub Michael Southgate who connected and bundled the ball over the line, there was epic scenes in the stand and in the dugout as Ballingarry dared to dream.
Villa set about an equaliser and threatened immediately, they were rewarded when sub Bassit Ishola brilliantly turned and shot from 10 yards to level the game.
Power and Madigan saw red for two yellows as the game reached boiling point with Viall coming within a whisker of scoring at the death.
Nobody wanted this game tio end but penalties were to decide this one, Molloy and Geary put Ballingarry 2-1 up but successive misses gave Villa the upper hand. Mark Ruddle superbly slotted home under pressure but agony awaited as Jake o Connor scored the winning penalty to end Villa’s 61 year wait for the cup.
It was heartbreak for Ballingarry, their support was vocal and passionate throughout the afternoon, their players gave everything physically and emotionally, the squad were together and perhaps the biggest appreciation should go to the management team – their preparations and game plan were outstanding and they made Ballingarry stand tall on a memorable day that will be forever etched in the club’s history.
Before the game a minute’s silence was observed impeccably for James Clancy, the weight of the week was there to witness as Villa celebrated in the background but James would have had the widest smile at what he looked down on, the Ballingarry boys had played their hearts out, the outcome not what was desired but despite the result Ballingarry gained many new friends and supporters as they showed they belonged in the big time.
Well done to players, management, backroom team, supporters and club committee – this is only the beginning
Ballingarry: Molloy, Tierney, Kelly, Tangney ©️, Storin, Quille, Casey, Hickey, Geary, Molloy, Madigan, McGoey, Southgate, Leahy, Ruddle, McMahon, Lawlor, Sheehy