U17's Advance to Last Four   02/12/2015

U17 Airtricity League Quarter Final 

Dundalk 0-3 Mervue Utd

By Anthony Bravender (Courtesy of www.dundalkfc.com )

Mervue Utd's Under-17's advanced to the last four of the SSE Airtricity Under-17 League after an excellent 3-0 away win over Dundalk in their quarter final tie at Oriel Park on Tuesday night.

A spectacular solo goal from Aaron Connolly and Colm Walsh O’Loughlen’s second-half brace proved to be the difference between the sides in front of a large attendance. Liam Burns’ Section Three runners-up saw their maiden participation in the Champions Knockout Phase come to an end, Mervue United AFC play St. Patrick’s Athletic FC in the semi-final.

Both began in a cagey, even fashion as chances were limited and sights at goal restricted. Kelly failed to connect from Hughes’ cross on the left and the Westerners defence held firm after intricate play between Finnegan and McGuire came to nothing during a quiet opening 20 minutes.

The young Lilywhites had to remain patient in possession as the well-organised Galway side proved difficult to break down, while also presenting a threat of their own. Connolly couldn’t quite stretch enough to connect to Walsh O’Loghlen’s delivery from the left, while Connolly squandered a decent opening as he dragged a low strike wide.

Tommy Molloy came close to breaking the deadlock after 40 minutes; his penalty-kick came back off the post, having beaten Finn. An incisive break forward saw substitute Ronan Asgari free in the box, however Hughes impeded him and brought him to ground leaving the referee no option but to point to the spot.

The young Lilywhites piled on the pressure at the end of the first-half as Kelly was unlucky not to keep his header on target after Rice raided down the right and delivered a cross to the target man.

Mervue United AFC began the second-half brightly. Walsh O’Loughlen netted the first of a quickfire double four minutes after the re-start, poking the ball past Finn from close range, he then made it 2-0 three minutes later with a mazy run past the Dundalk FC defence before firing to the corner of the net.

The visitors were even more inclined to stay compact and keep their shape following the double goals. Connolly went close as he rifled a shot that shook the cross-bar from 25-yards.

Hughes forced a good save from James Tierney as the home side searched for an unlikely route back into the game late on. Yet Mervue had demonstrated their experience throughout the game and were able to keep us largely away from danger.

Connolly made it 3-0 in added time with an incredible individual goal. The forward was a constant threat all game and capped an impressive performance as the Galway side progress to the last four.

Dundalk Manager Liam Burns, spoke to dundalkfc.com after the game and reflected on a learning experience for his players against tough opposition.

‘I’m obviously disappointed with the result because I know the lads can play better than that. I think at the end of the day Mervue had a little bit more quality that showed in the end.

‘Conceding the three goals, from a defensive point of view I think they could have been stopped but on the other hand you have to give the two players that scored the credit they deserve. Colm Walsh O’Loughlen and Aaron Connolly are two decent players and I’ve told my squad that as the level goes up so does the quality of the opposition so we will have to up our level too.

‘The players have shown fantastic effort and commitment, not just tonight but over the season. We’ve seen a big improvement in players in a short period of time.

‘Obviously this result is going to hurt for the next couple of days but we will have to move on. Hopefully this result will see our squad return faster, stronger and we can reach even further next season.’

Dundalk FC: Oisin Finn; James Rice, Emmet Hughes, Aaron Casey, Andrew Mooney; Adam Finnegan (capt), Shane Gregory (Daniel O’Brien 80); Scott Prendergast (Seán O’Hanlon 22), Seán McGuire (Tautvydas Semelevičius 35), Vincent Smith, Jordan Kelly
Substitutes not used: Gavin Smith, Luke Murphy (GK)
Booked: Rice, Kelly

Mervue Utd: James Tierney; Michael Junaid (Ronan Asgari 24), Michael Whelan, Sam Ogundare, Aaron Moran (Eoin Folan 63); Dara Mulgannon, Fionn Curran (Christopher Carey 86), Tommy Molloy (Aidan Coyle 81), Colm Walsh O’Loughlen (capt), William Fitzgerald; Aaron Connolly
Substitutes not used: Cian Mulryan (GK)
Scorers: O’Loughlen 49, O’Loughlen 51, Connolly 90
Booked: Junaid

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