Southend players celebrating Stephen O'Neills goal.

Southend players celebrating Stephen O'Neills goal.

Southend United 3; Villa 0

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Southend United’s remarkable season in underage football took another turn for the better at the RSC on Saturday last. The young players who play for the club at the various grades have been battling for honours on lots of different fronts since the outset of the season, and this latest success was never in any real doubt because they dominated the majority of the match.

One of their star players in this decider was Paddy Barrett who was in fact playing his last game for the club. The youngster from the Lisduggan area of Waterford City has signed a contract with Scottish Premier League club Aberdeen, and there is no doubt whatsoever that he has a big future in the game.

Along with another exciting young player, Glen Hawe he tormented the Villa outfit with some sparkling play in the middle of the park. Up front Sean O’Loughlin and Craig Keane were real livewires and the Villa defence never got a moment’s peace.

On the displays to date this term, Southend United could very well become the top club in Waterford Schoolboy football. The coaching scheme from Under 11s right up to Youths is top class and plenty more of their players could go on to carve out careers in the game.

O’Loughlin opener

Southend United took up the running from the opening whistle and they went close after five minutes. Craig Keane tried his luck with a well struck shot with his left foot but the Villa goalkeeper Mark Weldon produced a fine save.

Three minutes later Eamon Power swung over a corner kick which was met by Anthony Fitzpatrick but his header went narrowly over the crossbar. Jamie Cross came to Villa’s rescue shortly afterwards by taking a header from Paddy Barrett off the line following another Eamon Power corner.

Glen Hawe and Sean O’Loughlin combined brilliantly on 15 minutes but the latter was unable to keep his effort on target. Villa had a chance on 18 minutes when a cross from Jonathan McEvoy found Joe Kett but United ‘keeper Dale Sheehan displayed his class.

The first Southend goal arrived on 20 minutes. Glen Hawe went on a run down the left before releasing Craig Keane who pulled the ball back to Sean O’Loughlin and he clipped the ball over the head of Mark Weldon and into the net from inside the penalty area. Jonathan McEvoy shot over for the Villa and Craig Keane of Southend had a shot saved before the interval.

More goals

Southend increased their advantage eight minutes into the second half. The Villa defenders were having problems dealing with corner kicks all through the game and when Eamon Power floated over another one on 38 minutes Stephen O’Neill did not have too much difficulty heading to the net with real style.

The Villa players did get into the game during the early minutes of the second half and they almost pulled a goal back on 45 minutes when Dale Sheehan dropped an effort from Jonathan McEvoy but Anthony Fitzpatrick cleared the ball off the line.

David Cooley made an impression when he came on for the Villa, but Southend put the game to bed on 62 minutes. Craig Keane went down the left, got around the defence before pulling the ball back to the penalty spot to Anthony Fitzpatrick who gleefully hammered the ball to the net.

Another red letter day for Southend United in what is a really wonderful season for all concerned with the club. This team can complete the double this week by clinching the league title, something they are odds-on favourites to do.

Southend United (panel): Dale Sheridan, Kieran Power, Eamon Power, Anthony Fitzpatrick, Stephen O’Neill, Paddy Barrett, Glen Hawe, Craig Keane, Jason O’Neill, Sean O’Loughlin, Robbie Burke, Luke Brennan, Rob Healy, Dean Kennedy, Ryan Sinnott.

Villa: Mark Weldon, Owen Kindlon, Jamie Cross, Nick Kenneally, Mark Hobbs, Adam Potter, Aaron Gailbert, Kevin Flynn, Jonathan McEvoy, Ritchie Walsh, Joe Kett, Aidan McGrath, Conor Sheehan, Con Kirby, David Cooley, Finbar Power.

Referee: Jim Keeley.