A classy first half performance paved the way for the Republic of Ireland Under 18 Schools side to capture the Centenary Shield for the first time since 2015 with a 3-1 victory over close rivals Scotland in their final fixture at Home Farm FC this afternoon (April 12).
A proud occasion for new Irish Head Coach William O’Connor from Balbriggan Community School in his first season in charge of the International side who needed a win against Scotland to regain the trophy.
Ali Regbha’s double either side of a cracking drive from Liam Kerrigan gave the impressive Irish side a comfortable half time lead.
The stunned Scots produced a much stronger second half performance to take control of the game and after being denied an early score from the penalty spot by Carndonagh ‘keeper Daniel Houghton’s brilliant save, they did pull a goal back just past the hour mark.
However despite a couple of close calls for the home side they managed to survive and claim the well deserved win to finish their campaign unbeaten and top of the table with eight points from two wins and two draws.
Northern Ireland on five points have also completed their programme, while the Scots who came into this game with four points can take second place with victory in their final fixture against Wales at Queen of the South FC next Thursday.
Regbha opened the scoring after six minutes when he ran on to Jack Ryan’s through ball and beat Scots ‘keeper Fraser Currid from close in.
Kerrigan then doubled the advantage ten minutes later after he cut in from the right wing to fire a brilliant left footer into the top corner of Currid’s goal.
It was one way traffic as the rampant home side put on the style. Regbha grabbed his second on 28 minutes with a fine individual effort.
The powerful Chanel College winger worked his way in the box with the Scots defence at sixes and sevens to coolly stroke the ball home.
The Scots rejigged their side at the break making three changes and they went on to have much the better of things after that.
Kieran Chalmers and Sean Fagan took control in midfield and suddenly the Scots began to show greater urgency and create chances.
A missed penalty three minutes in might have got them back into the game earlier but Irish ‘keeper Daniel Houghton did well to keep out Cameron Clark spot kick.
Nathan Fell with a diving header from MacKay’s neat cross just past the hour mark did get them finally off the mark.
The Scots had several further chances and Fell shot over from an Aidan McKeown cross, while Houghton got down well to keep out McKeown’s low drive and later MacKay headed over Clark’s deep cross.
Cian Murphy, Liam Kerrigan and Man of the Match Ali Regbha did their best to add to the Irish total with the limited chances that came their way but those three top class first half goals proved sufficient insurance for the home side to claim a famous victory.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND | Daniel Houghton (Carndonagh Community School), Kieran Farrren (Carndonagh Community School), Adam Rooney (Yeats College, Galway), Darryl Walsh (St. Declan’s Community College), Peter Adigun (Riversdale Community College), Rory Doyle (St. Francis College, Rochestown), Jack Ryan (Templeogue College), Ali Regbha (Chanel College, Coolock), Liam Kerrigan (St. Attracta’s CS, Tubbercurry), Ronan Manning (Yeats College, Galway); Cian Murphy Captain (Coláiste Dun Iascaigh, Cahir).
SUBS | Adam Conway (De La Salle College, Waterford) for Adigun (HT), Cian Lee (Boyne Community School, Trim) for Ryan (77), Jake Walker (St. Kevin’s Community College, Clondalkin) for Murphy (85), Lido Lotefa (Balbriggan Community School) for Manning (89)
SUBS NOT USED | Luke McNicholas (Balla Secondary School), Adam O’Connor (St. Clare’s College, Ballyjamesduff), Colm Whelan (Grennan College, Thomastown).
SCOTLAND | Fraser Currid (Wallace High Stirling), Aidan McKeown (St. Mordan’s High Stirling), Nathan Browne (Stewarts Melville College), Jack McDowall (St Ninan’s High, Kirkintilloch), Cameron Clark (Springburn Academy), Declan Walsh (St. Ninan’s High Giffnock), Reece Rintoul (Edinburgh College), Sam Walker (Stewart’s Melville College), Jack Hodge (Graeme High, Falkirk), Daniel MacKay (Milburn Academy Inverness), Gavin Scott (Grange Academy, Kilmarnock).
SUBS | Sean Fagan (St. Mungo’s High, Falkirk) for Rintoul (HT), Kieran Chalmers (Dingwall Academy) for Hodge (HT), Nathan Fell (All Saints Secondary, Glasgow) for Walker (HT), Gavin Watt (Inverclyde Academy) for Scott (75), Ben Harwood (Park Mains High, Paisley) for Walsh (84)
SUBS NOT USED | Elliott Anderson (Douglas Academy, Glasgow), Aidan Kemp (Wallace High, Stirling).
REFEREE | Seán O’Connor (Dublin)
2018 Centenary Shield Results
February 15 Wales 1-2 Republic of Ireland The Rock, Cefn Druids FC (7pm)
March 9 Scotland 0-0 Northern Ireland Renfrew FC (7pm)
March 15 Northern Ireland 1-1 Wales Armagh City AFC (2pm)
March 16 England 0-0 Republic of Ireland Kenilworth Stadium, Luton Town FC (7pm)
March 23 England 0-2 Scotland Bootham Crescent, York City FC (7pm)
March 29 Republic of Ireland 0-0 Northern Ireland Monaghan United FC (2pm)
March 29 Wales 1-0 England Cardiff Metropolitan University FC (7pm)
April 6 Northern Ireland 3-1 England Queen’s University, Belfast (7pm)
April 12 Republic of Ireland 3-1 Scotland Home Farm FC, Whitehall (2pm)
2018 Centenary Shield Fixtures
April 19 Scotland vs Wales Queen of the South FC (7pm)