Jim OSullivan

Carrick United players, management and supporters celebrate after winning the Premier Cup, with Noel O'Keeffe, Chairman of the Waterford Junior League, presenting the trophy to captain Wayne Fitzgerald. | Photos: Jim OSullivan

Carrick United 1; Waterford Crystal 0

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Carrick United brought the curtain down on their season with a trophy last week. Having lost the Munster Junior Cup decider to Fairview Rangers and the league play-off to Tramore they were determined not to end up empty-handed and they duly did the business against a Waterford Crystal side who lost to the Villa in last year’s final.

It may have been somewhat of a disappointing season for Carrick but this latest Ardagh Cup triumph means that the Coolnamuck club have won a domestic trophy for the 12th season in a row – a record in Waterford football.

In fairness to Crystal they did put Carrick under a great deal of pressure, especially in the second half but missed chances and a truly world class save by Adrian Wash cost them the chance to at least take the game into extra time.

This game marked the end of the Carrick manager Liam Wells’ reign at the helm. Accepting the cup, the Carrick United skipper Wayne Fitzgerald thanked Liam and his coaching staff for giving the players “two unbelievable years” – sentiments greeted by a loud and prolonged round of applause, and rightly so.

The high point was of course the club’s FAI Junior Cup triumph last season. This Carrick team have set a very high standard for over a decade, and have no doubt about it there is more to come.

Walsh scores

Barry Murphy was the main man for Carrick during the course of the opening 45 minutes. He pulled the ball back from the left endline after three minutes but Glen Keane just failed to make contact with his cross in front of goal.

Murphy passed to Adam McSharry after 17 minutes but the latter shot straight at Crystal goalkeeper Derek Hearne from just inside the penalty area. Eoin Burke was the next Carrick player to take advantage of good work by Barry Murphy but again Derek Hearne got down low to save Burke’s shot from 20 yards.

The only goal of the game arrived three minutes before the break. Wayne Fitzgerald took a free kick from the halfway line. Barry Murphy knocked the ball forward to Adam McSharry who crossed from the right to James Walsh and he had no difficulty finding the net from six yards.

Crystal pressure

Apart from a Glen Keane effort early in the second half it was Waterford Crystal who enjoyed all of the play after the interval.

Joe Watson shot weakly at Carrick ‘keeper Adrian Walsh on 49 minutes. Paul Quilty got free out on the right on 63 minutes before crossing to the back post but Watson shot into the side netting.

Eight minutes later Robbie Butler took a pass from Gavin Roche and he also picked out Joe Watson from the right, but this time the striker shot wide.

Crystal continued to press forward in quest of an equaliser. Watson sent in a free kick from the right on 87 minutes but substitute Andrew Power was a little unlucky to see his effort go narrowly wide.

Three minutes into stoppage time Adrian Walsh proved why is the top junior international goalkeeper in Ireland right now. Andrew Power squared the ball to Paul Quilty who let rip from 20 yards. It looked a goal all over but almost beyond belief Walsh dived to his right and tipped the ball away just as it looked destined for the top corner.

It was a remarkable stop, and a fitting end to the Premier soccer season of 2008-’09, as Carrick ‘saved’ their best ’til last.

Carrick United: Adrian Walsh, John Walsh, Brian Barry, Anthony O’Donnell, Wayne Fitzgerald, Adam McSharry, James Walsh, Eoin Burke, Alan Ryan, Barry Murphy, Glean Keane. Subs: Ian Cleary for McSharry (H-T), Alan Redmond for Murphy (75 mins), Thomas Fitzgerald for Keane (83).

Waterford Crystal: Derek Hearne, Gavin Roche, Jimmy Barden, Conor Fell, Paul Wyse, Mitchell Casey, Martin Tynan, Keith Sheridan, Paul Quilty, Joe Watson, Robbie Butler. Subs: Andrew Power for Butler (80 mins), Stephen Burke for Casey (90).

Referee. Jimmy McGrath.