Men’s Irish Senior Cup final:
Glenanne 4 (Stephen Butler 2, Shane O’Donoghue, Richie Shaw) Monkstown 1 (Ian Allen) Arul Anthoni admitted his tactical machinations did not go exactly to plan but saw his Glenanne side record their third Irish Senior Cup win, taking the laurels in a relentless end-to-end tussle with Monkstown, played out in front of a massive crowd resplendent in green and blue.
The former capped the day with two ripping drag-flicks while son Shane won the O’Donoghue subplot over father Rory – the Monkstown coach – playing key roles in two goals from open play, netting one and threading through the eye of a needle for Richie Shaw.
The Town were not without their chances, rocking the Glens in the opening and closing quarters, Andy Ewington rattling the bar while Steven Doran pulling off a string of saves to make sure there was no nervy endgame.
But Glenanne were thoroughly deserving victors, snapping up the opportunities which came their way to build up a 3-0 first half lead from which there was no way back for the sky-blues.
Speaking to the Hook, though, coach Arul Antoni said he was hoping for a slightly more structured approach than the blood-and-thunder pattern that emerged.
“Some of the things I really wanted to do beforehand, based on the concepts we planned, the guys didn’t do very well.
“But they took their chances and, in preparation for finals, it doesn’t always come down to tactics, it can just be about getting the players excited. After training on Monday and Thursday, I told them they’ll win because their training mood was brilliant and that made the difference.”
The fixture started at break-neck speed. O’Donoghue was the first to rise, burning away from three would-be tacklers from the halfway before sliding the ball just the wrong side of Dave Fitzgerald’s post.
Andrew Ward saved umpire Dan Clarke a tricky decision as a sharp, shoulder-high volley presented itself from Gareth Watkins – at his rollicking best on numerous occasions. The ball popped up high about five yards out and there was debate whether it was struck at legal height but Ward could not direct on target, making any queries moot.
Gary Shaw’s cross just evaded Eddie O’Malley’s dive but from David Shaw’s left wing sweep, O’Donoghue got the run on his man to touch in at the near post to deflect past Fitzgerald for the game’s opening goal in the 13th minute.
O’Donoghue almost proceeded to assist a second with a delightful overhead, just beyond Eoin O’Connor’s reach, which Graham Shaw raced in to volley first time but Fitzgerald saved spectacularly before acrobatically completing the clearance job.
Richie and Gary Shaw – two players in contention for the man-of-the-match crown which ultimately went to cousin Graham – pulled some outrageous tricks in midfield as the Tallaght club took control in the second quarter.
Butler earned and scored their first series of corners, netting on the glove-side after one reset to create a crucial wedge in the 19th minute.
Ewington took another corner to the body from Butler – judged to be slipping wide – and his absence moments later may have played a part in the Glen’s third.
An altercation between Joe Brennan and Watkins led to Monkstown’s only corner of the half but without the specialist on the pitch, receiving treatment on a facial cut, the sky-blue corner routine got muddled.
Glenanne broke with immense pace, finding O’Donoghue in acres on the left sideline. He had time to look up and, with a scuffle of players racing near post, he picked the pass just behind the melee to find Richie Shaw all alone on the right edge of the circle. His finish was coolness personified, sweeping under the advancing Fitzgerald for a comfortable lead at the break.
The Town have shown they are never dead in ties and when Ian Allen clattered home a corner rebound from close range two minutes into the second half, dreams of their most famous comeback were briefly entertained, especially when Watkins drew a block from Doran moments after the restart.
But Butler snuffed out any such fantasies with another bullet for 4-1. Late corners drew the best from Doran, most notably from Billy McEnery’s close range flick which was amazingly knocked away by the sprawling goalkeeper’s stick; Ewington dinged the crossbar while David Shaw blocked another Watkins effort.
On the counter, Gary Shaw’s bullish presence could have added extra gloss. He saw one pull-back intercepted by Ewington while another baseline possession, Graham Shaw’s overhead the impetus, was not backed up by quick enough support.
It mattered little, though, as the first half work was critical and provides Glenanne with European hockey next year and an extra booster before next Saturday’s IHL showdown with Pembroke.
Skipper Joe Brennan, meanwhile, was in no doubt as to the stern test posed today, paying tribute to his side’s monumental efforts, ousting all four of Leinster’s IHL teams en route to this success.
“I thought Doran was superb today and that shows the quality Monkstown have, hitting the crossbar too; it was a great match but I thought we deserved it. The route we’ve taken has been very hard, Pembroke, Three Rock and Corinthians are all good sides and we haven’t had any sort of easy ride.”
Glenanne: Steven Doran, Joe Brennan (capt), Stephen Butler, David Shaw, Eddie O’Malley, Paul Fitzpatrick, Jonathon Kane, Richie Shaw, Shane O’Donoghue, Gary Shaw, Graham Shaw Subs: Alan Lewis, Mick McGuinness, Brendan Parsons, Clinton Murphy, David Keogh, Gareth Carragher
Monkstown: Dave Fitzgerald, Andy Ewington, Eoin O’Connor, Nick Dee, Brian Groves, Andrew Ward, Gareth Watkins (capt), Runar O’Moore, Frank Ryan, Stephen Cole, Billy McEnery Subs: Gavin Groves, Cian Speers, Alec Barrett, Ian Allen, Simon Groves, Richard Sykes, Rob Mason
* For Adrian Boehm's photos from the Irish Senior Cup final, click here. Sportsfile's pics from the same game are here while Inpho's shots can be seen here (bottom page).