Saturday morning was a busy and successful one for all at Rathfriland FC Youth.
They fielded an unprecedented four teams in the Firmus Energy Mid Ulster Shield Finals and brought three trophies home.
Rathfriland U11s 3
Dungannon Youth U11s 2
The U11s were the first to kick-off against Dungannon Youth and Alex McKee was rewarded for a typically energetic display when the reacted first in the box to fire the Whites ahead.
The second half saw Dungannon press for the equaliser and they always looked dangerous on the break however the defence of Aaron Baxter, Johnny McGivern and Shea Morgan were dealing admirably with the threat.
With 20 minutes to go, Rathfriland were awarded a free kick five metres outside the box which Dan Rafferty struck perfectly into the top right hand corner to double the advantage.
Christopher McConville almost most sealed the win with a run down the right and thunderous shot which pinged off the inside of the post and out to safety. With victory within sight the players took their foot off the gas and were caught with a long range free kick and a breakaway goal to bring them down to earth with a bump.
Lesser teams may have crumbled in such circumstances but they pressed forward again and were awarded another free-kick, this time even further out.
Rafferty stepped up again and produced another bit of magic to hit the top corner again. There were emotional scenes at the final whistle as the team changed into t-shirts bearing a tribute to their teammate Stephen McElroy who tragically passed away only four weeks ago.
Man of the Match: Dan Rafferty.
Rathfriland U13s 1
Moira U13s 1
(Rathfriland win 3 – 1 on penalties)
Rathfriland were quick out of the blocks, playing the brand of passing football that brought a 7 – 1 semi-final win.
They put Moira under pressure in the first few minutes with Cormac McElroy and Jack Rodgers looking a threat.
With 12 minutes on the clock the Moira keeper kicked to clear but found Peter Haughey lurking 30 yards out and his quick reaction, first time shot opened the scoring.
Moira did hit back shortly after the break with their striker giving O’Hare no chance on this occasion. Even extra-time could not separate the teams and the dreaded penalty shoot-out loomed.
Moira’s first effort ballooned over the bar and Rodgers slotted coolly home for the Whites. Moira’s second effort hit the bar and regular penalty taker Brendan Tumilty made it 2–0. Moira scored their third but Krystian Kolodziez replied confidently. Moira then put yet another penalty over the bar to spark scenes of jubilation not least from coaches Stephen Brannigan and Stephen Morgan.
MOTM: Peter Haughey / Conor O’Hare.
Rathfriland U14s 4
Enniskillen Rangers U14s 1
The U14s went one down after 20 mins to a brilliant half volley from 25 yards out that gave Cashal Haughey in goal no chance.
It was good passing and movement from Adam Bronte and Ethan Copes on the right that created the chance for Joshua Ingram to fire home from.
With the Wee Whites now in control Donal Clarke sped down the right and crossed for Krystian Celmierowski to finish neatly. Enniskillen tried to break out and went three at the back but a long ball from Max Wilson found Adam Bronte on the edge of the box who brought it down slipped the defender and fired through the keeper’s hands to make it 3 – 1.
The Fermanagh lads did create one really good chance down the left to change the flow of the game but Cashal Haughey narrowed the angle well and the shot slipped to the right of the goals.
Victory was secured when Copes burst through the middle and placed his shot into the top left hand corner to spark scenes of jubilation.
Man of the Match: Adam Bronte