Ballingarry became the first Desmond League side to reach a Munster Youths Cup final on Sunday, after a world class strike from Mike Molloy after just four minutes was enough to see off a strong Bridge United challenge.
Dean Clancy’s youths side has not played a competitive game since their quarter final victory over Carrigaline in late February. But there was little sign of this as they struck the front from their first notable attack. Goalkeeper Jack Molloy saved brilliantly from a Conor Maxwell header and quickly launched the counter attack.
Receiving the ball on the left wing, Mike Molloy turned back, just inside the Bridge half and had the awareness to spot the visiting goalkeeper off his line. His floated effort had the accuracy and sailed into the net to give the hosts a precious lead.
It was a lead that they rarely looked like threatening, as captain Ciaran Tagney and Kieran Storin marshalled their defence expertly. Any openings created by the Clare side were dealt with well by Molloy or his well-organised defence.
At the other end, Storm Devanney denied Adam Hickey with a wonderful block, with the goalkeeper beaten. While the finish to the game was nervy, the hosts dealt comfortably with most of what was thrown at them by United.
They become the first Limerick Desmond side into this provincial final, after Broadford United fell at the semi-final last season.
The final will see Ballingarry face Villa FC of Waterford, who defeated College Corinthians (Cork) 2-1, on Saturday, August 15th, with a venue to be confirmed.
Meanwhile, at junior level, there was disappointment for both Rathkeale and Abbeyfeale United.
Rathkeale were undone in extra-time of the Munster Champions trophy final, losing 1-0 to Killarney Celtic. This game, played in Tralee was extremely tight throughout and it was a goal just two minutes into extra-time that proved to be the games major moment. Matt Keane drifted in at the back post to secure Munster honours for the Kerry District League champions. The winners had the benefit of a competitive game against Fairview Rangers in recent weeks, while for Alan Doyle’s Rathkeale, it represented a first competitive outing since a league game on February 2nd.
Abbeyfeale United were beaten by a clinical St. Michaels side 3-0 on Sunday. The Tipperary side have been one of the country’s strongest junior sides for over a decade and continued their march towards retaining their title. Played in Abbeyfeale, the hosts got off to the worst possible start, falling behind inside the opening minute, with Shane Ryan on target. It was 2-0 at the interval as Willie Armstrong found the net.
Irish amateur international Jimmy Carr sealed his side’s progress early in the second half. The Saints face Fairview Rangers in the semi-final on August 8th. For Abbeyfeale, meanwhile, they face a long break before the 2020/21 Desmond League season commences on September 20th.