Glenanne survived being reduced to nine-men to claim their eighth Neville Cup success, beating YMCA 3-1 at Serpentine Avenue thanks to late goals from Shane O’Donoghue and Joe Brennan.
The Glens held the majority of possession throughout but took their time before killing off the Sandymount side – which was in search of a first piece of silverware since 2003.
Glenanne triumphed, in spite of the absence of Irish international duo Stephen Butler and Graham Shaw while Paul Fitzpatrick and coach Arul Anthoni were also unavailable. Their task was was made even harder when Richie Shaw succumbed to a knee injury in the ninth minute.
However, captain Brennan managed to open the scoring in the 26th minute when his scrappy drag-push wriggled its way past Iain Walker via a defender’s stick.
Early in the second half, Stephen Barry leveled for YM with a cracking reverse strike, lifting the ball over Steven Doran’s left hand at high speed.
Glenanne, though, stayed composed and enjoyed large tracts of possession while their counterparts appeared to panic with the ball, looking to get forward too quickly rather than building their attacks. Both sides had chances but the Tallaght-outfit looked more assured.
Their breakthrough came with ten minutes left. The ball broke to Johnny Goulding – playing in just his third game since returning from his travels – on the right wing. He worked his way down the end-line before teeing up the unmarked O’Donoghue on the back post.
It was the 16-year-old’s sixth goal in four rounds of the competition and provided the Neville Cup with a success story in the face of adversity.
This term, the “14-game ruling” combined with Pembroke’s expulsion from the competition in the first round has left some wondering what future there is for the competition with many top clubs opting to rest players.
O’Donoghue, though, along with David Keogh got his chance to impress in the early rounds and has since become a fully fledged member of the Glenanne first-team squad.
His goal preceded some late shenanigans that saw a frustrated Jacob Webber see red for YMCA for having a swipe at Gary Shaw. Shaw was sin-binned for his reaction before Alan Browne joined him in the bin for an over-zealous tackle.
There was still time for Glenanne to bag a third and clinching goal. Johnny Kane was fouled by Iain Walker and Brennan buried the ensuing penalty stroke for 3-1 in the dying moments.