Bray Wanderers 1 Derry City 2
The curtain came down on the 2023 season for Bray Wanderers as the U15’s suffered EA SPORTS LOI Academy Semi Final Shield anguish.
In a match moved from the Ballycorus to Berryfield Park in Enniskerry on Sunday afternoon, Wanderers led for 50 minutes after taking the lead early on.
But Derry equalised through a disputed penalty right at the end of the second third before snatching what proved to be the winner midway through the final third.
A failure to take chances – coupled with a series of arguable refereeing decisions – cost the Green and White’s in the end.
The two teams had met twice in the Tier Two North Group stages.
The Candystripes came out on top 2-1 back in July at the Woodlands in Greystones.
But the Seagulls won 3-2 back in September at the Letterkenny Community Centre.
This time, the hosts took a tenth minute lead in style.
From Evan Lynch’s throw-in wide left, Darragh Sherlock span and cut-infield before lashing a stunning 22-yard right footed drive that dipped under the crossbar.
The visitors went close in the 21st minute. But Alex Forde stood up to thwart Niall McLaughlin who’d beaten the offside.
The woodwork came to the away sides rescue six minutes later.
After intricate passing on the edge of the box, Sean Howard burst in off the left. He deftly chipped Stephen McNulty from 15-yards. But the custodian got a feint touch and the ball crashed back off the far stanchion.
Four minutes into the second period, Sherlock helped set Cristiano Bramley clear off the right flank. But McNulty made a fine stop.
Just as the period was coming to a close. Derry earned a corner.
Taken by Callum Downey, referee Ruben Collins pointed to the spot for an apparent foul.
Luke McCourt stepped up to convert the 12-yard dead-ball despite sub keeper Liam Billings brave dive.
Yet there was still enough time added on for Sherlock to fire a 20-yard drive just wide.
Four minutes into the final period, Sherlock’s 30-yard free dipped too late and just over the bar.
City scored what proved to be the decisive score in the 72nd minute.
Downey whipped in a free into to the danger zone. Reece Schmid got a glancing header was that found the far bottom right corner of the net.
Bray had one last opportunity to force extra time, But Bramley’s 83rd minute shot on the run from 16-yards was smothered by reserve keeper Odhran Patton.
Bray Wanderers: Alex Forde; Ryan Bell Mihaila, Max Free, Callum Kenna, Evan Lynch; Sean Howard, Jake Fulton; Cristiano Bramley, Darragh Sherlock, Adam Keene; Sean Hennelly.
Subs: Jack Lawless, Harry Grainger, Noah Byrne, Tadhg Worthington, Liam Billings.
Derry City: Stephen McNulty; Ruari Tinney, Zach McAuley, Gavin Friel, Oisin O’Donnell; Luke McCourt, Callum Downey; Niall McLaughlin, Tiernan Brolly, Shane Gillespie; Reece Schmid.
Subs: Shea McGinley, Shane Moran, Oliver Devlin, Caolan O’Donnell, Yoann Prigent, Odhran Patton.
Referee: Ruben Collins (Wicklow ISRS).