Carlow Kilkenny 1
A long season came to an agonising end as Carlow Kilkenny’s Airtricity League of Ireland under-15 season came up one step short.
The local side had been aiming to reach the Shield final in this their first season, but sharp Dundalk finishing saw the visitors pull through to reach the final against Wexford.
Carlow Kilkenny never shirked the challenge, but taking their chances helped Dundalk turn the game their way.
The hosts started well, Zach Bay Hammond and Eoghan Byrne working hard to make the early attacks. Hammond had the best of the opening chances, running on to Rory O’Dowd’s clever reverse pass but Dundalk stopper Billy Hogan got down at his near post to make the save.
Dundalk coped well with the threat posed by Mark Ross’s side, but they spurned a great chance to go in front after the half hour when a defensive slip set Michael Soyenri up with a clear sight of goal.
With just the ’keeper to beat he seemed destined to score, but Josh Coady made a superb point-blank save to keep his side in the game.
Dundalk made better use of their next chance, taking the lead on the stroke of half-time. Full-back Cillian Duffy led the charge, snapping up a loose ball inside the half-way line and whipping a cross to the back left post for Val Adeabukin to volley home.
Dundalk worked hard to retain that lead in the second half, battling a Carlow Kilkenny side who began to pile on the pressure.
Zach Bay Hammond was a whisker away from levelling the game when he stretched to meet Eoghan Byrne’s 43rd minute cross but couldn’t turn it inside the far post, while Oscar Brennan’s glancing 49th minute header flashed off-target.
Dundalk heeded the warning and took a huge step towards the final when Michael Soyenri was clipped in the box 10 minutes from time. He dusted himself down, then hammered his spot kick into the bottom left corner.
Carlow Kilkenny may have been down, but they weren’t out. Young striker Jamie Murphy gave his side a glimmer of hope when he volleyed a superb goal in the final seconds of normal time, but Dundalk weren’t about to let them back into the game.
David Doyle made sure of that, bagging a third goal for the visitors in stoppage time to wrap up the win and seal their final spot.
Carlow Kilkenny: Joshua Coady; Jake Haughney, Adam McCarron, Fionn McCaffrey, Darren Lawlor; Rory O’Dowd, Niall Rowe; Eoghan Byrne, Jack Byrne, Oscar Brennan; Zach Bay Hammond. Subs: Cian Byrne, Jamie Murphy, Eamon Lalor, Jack O’Neill, Jake Ffrench Davis, Kyle Foley, Dylan Hunston.