Long inspires classy Avondale

Bluebell United 1 Avondale United 4

The scoreline perhaps flattered the Cork side somewhat, as two goals in the last eight minutes put an end to a hearty Bluebell challenge. But there was no denying the Cork side deserved the win.

This was trophy number four of the season for John Cotter’s side, and with another four to compete for before the end of the campaign, this has the potential to be their best year ever.

Cotter made a huge call before kick-off drafting Roy Long in place of skipper Eoghan Lougheed. It proved an inspired decision with Long claiming the man-of-the match award for a magnificent 90 minutes.

Long scored their first two goals but, uncharacteristically, Avondale actually couldn’t have suffered a worse start as Robert Douglas put Bluebell ahead inside 25 seconds.

With the Dale defence static, it seemed the striker was the only one moving as he picked up possession on the edge of the area and rolled the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.

If one element had characterised Avondale’s route to the final it was the unwavering strength of their defence having kept clean sheets in all six games on the road to Dublin. Their response, a seventh minute equaliser followed by a lead goal on 13, was emphatic and typical of their winning mentality.

They levelled when Ian Stapleton’s cross from the left dipped at the back post and Long climbed above Ian Cherry and nodded home from six yards. It was a frantic opening, with both sides going all-out in attack.

Everything Long made

contact with, however, seemed to turn to gold and six minutes after equalising, he put Avondale in front with a similar move to the first.

This time Mark O’Sullivan was the provider, swinging another cross in from the left which Long clinically headed past Karl Coleman.

For Bluebell, the scoreline was harsh given how much good football they played. Trevor Molloy, on his swansong after the most storied of careers in the domestic game, was a constant threat on the left, while

Douglas and Glen Madden were both denied by Daniel O’Leary. Indeed they had the better share of the ball for much of the second half, but just couldn’t find a route to goal.

Avondale’s nerves were eased eight minutes from time though as O’Sullivan trundled towards goal and after it looked like he had the beating of Andrew Cleary, the substitute tugged at his shirt and brought him down inside the area. It left referee Richard Glynn with no other option but to point towards the spot and Stapleton made no mistake, side-footing into the bottom left corner.

Kevin Mulcahy then sealed the deal with a magnificent long-range finish which flew over Coleman’s head and into the net.

BLUEBELL UNITED: Coleman; Killeen, Rooney, Cherry, Byrne (Andrew Cleary 56); Douglas, Darcy, Stewart (Anthony Cleary 65), Molloy; Griffith, Madden (Satelle 84).

AVONDALE UNITED: O’Leary; Horgan, Mulconry, Spratt; R Long (Lougheed 85), Caulfield (K Murphy 88), B Murphy, D Long (McCarthy 73), Mulcahy; Stapleton, O’Sullivan.

Referee: R Glynn.

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