Derry City U15 narrowly saw off Finn Harps U15 at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium to lift the U15 Foyle Cup on Friday evening.
Derry City U15 1 Finn Harps U15 0
Report by Shaun Keenan at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium
An individual goal from Luka Doherty following a mistake in the Finn Harps defence gifted the Foylesiders the only goal of the tie, despite being second best for the majority of the contest.
The sun shone as a sizeable crowd turned out on the Mark Farren Stand as the 2019 Foyle Cup tournament reaches its closing ceremony.
From the start, Harps had a brilliant chance after seven minutes when a superb corner kick was delivered by Josh Maxwell and Conor Campbell almost got the better of the Derry defence when his steering header went inches beyond the crossbar.
The visitors started at a ferocious pace and rarely relented during the first 20 minutes and Campbell was causing Daithi McCallion plenty to think about on the right flank and the attacking wide-forward almost snatched the lead in the most extraordinary fashion.
Netmegging McCallion and skipping beyond the full-back, Campbell tried an audacious effort from the tightest of angles on the right, fooling everyone including the Derry City goalkeeper Charlie Byrne, who was caught flat-footed, but the Derry number one managed to scramble the ball off the goal line.
Derry’s first chance fell after 23 minutes when Ryan Stuucks forced an excellent and the first clear and concise save from Finn Harps stopper Fintan Doherty.
The Ballybofey side went close again close to the interval as Jamie O’Donnell’s 25-yard free-kick forced intervention from Byrne, who rather nervously spilt the ball for a fruitless corner-kick before half-time.
After the break, Derry were, in many ways, architects of their own downfall and they almost gifted Harps the opening goal when Mark Toland made an absolute hash of his attempted back pass, with Campbell intercepting and almost scoring with a thunderous effort from the edge of the penalty area.
Derry, for all of their inconsistencies, had better success going forward in the second half, and they wasted an opportunity after 48 minutes when Callum Gillen failed to drive a close-range free-kick on target.
City, who had home-field advantage, fashioned a couple of promising moments just prior to the breakthrough.
For all of Harps good play for the majority of the final, City snatched what looked like the most unlikely of leads after 50 minutes.
Propelling a long ball forward, the Harps defence were caught on the back-foot as Luca Doherty beat the offside trap and, despite Maxwell charging towards the loose ball, Doherty left the Harps goalkeeper with little chance before breaking the deadlock for the Candystripes.
It was a major sucker-punch for the Donegal outfit and, if they couldn’t believe their luck following their initial surrender, the Harps management staff will be wondering how they didn’t equalise two minutes later.
Caught cold inside the 18-yard area, the Derry defence failed to clear their lines and they almost paid the price as Liam Donnelly pinched possession from McCallion mere yards from the goal line, but the striker couldn’t convert from close range.
Harps battled to the very end, refusing to call it quits, and late substitute Aiden McCloskey almost found the goal for Harps in the closing stages, but Conor Moore did well to block the striker’s effort.
For all of Harp’s attacking talent, it was strong performances from two Derry centre-halves, throwing themselves to try and block every cross and shot, that also marked this winning performance for the Derry youth side.
Derry City: Charlie Byrne, Conor Moore, Patrick McLaughlin, Luca Doherty, Callum Gillen, Adam Duffy (C), Mark Toland, Rory O’Donnell, Daithi McCallion, Keena McLaren, Ryan Struuks (Callum McCarron 47′)
Finn Harps: Fintan Doherty, Josh Maxwell, Noah Barrett, Luke McGlynn, Mark M’bull, Jamie Harris (Oisin McKelvey HT), Liam Donnelly, Conor Campbell (Aiden McCloskey 58′) Jamie McKinney, Oisin Lynch, Jamie O’Donnell.Tags: