Dundalk Youths 1-4 Belvedere
A Jamie McCaul strike just past the hour-mark was the only consolation for Dundalk on an otherwise disappointing day as Belvedere eased through to the Fourth Round of the FAI Youth Cup with a comfortable 4-1 win at Oriel Park on Sunday morning. The Lilywhites had started the game on the front foot and squandered a fine chance to take the lead in the opening quarter-hour when Michael Osobe miscued with just the ‘keeper to beat. However, once Belvedere hit the front through their impressive No9, there was no looking back as they added three more before McCaul grabbed one back, a strike which failed to build a platform for a comeback.
Captain Glen Traynor led the team out to their biggest game of the season, and Dundalk started positively and pressed their opponents in the opening exchanges. The first clear-cut chance arrived on 11 minutes when Osobe broke through the Belvedere backline but his rushed shot went wide of the target. Conor Macken then saw a shot easily gathered on 16 minutes after more pressure from the home side, but they were caught on the break moments later. A quick counterattack by Belvedere ended with a cross from the right wing landing on the head of the No9 who headed in despite the best efforts of goalkeeper Ciarán Taaffe. It was the visitors’ first effort on goal.
Dundalk responded well, however, and pressed hard to get back on level terms. They almost did so on 25 minutes but Macken’s headed flick inside the box was taken off the toe of Osobe at the back post when he was ready to pounce from six-yards. At the other end, Belvedere began to threaten more, and a long-range shot was brilliantly pushed around the post by Taaffe, although the referee failed to see the save and awarded a goal kick. Within seconds, it was 2-0. Belvedere’s No9 made a fantastic run down the left wing and cut inside the box before planting a shot in the ‘keeper’s bottom right-hand corner. The young Lilywhites did not let their heads drop, though, and they continued to attack, Osobe’s effort on the half-volley easily saved on 36 minutes.
Five minutes before the break and Taaffe denied the Dublin club a third with another good save. Moments later, Dami Kusigbagbe supplied a terrific delivery across the face of goal from the by-line but Macken was unable to get a touch inside the six-yard box, the ball ending up for a throw-in on the stand side. Dundalk’s management team of Alan Browne and Raymond Trimble decided upon a half-time substitute as Kurt Murphy was replaced by McCaul, and within seconds of the restart the change almost worked as McCaul broke through and forced the visiting ‘keeper to get down and save. On 52 minutes, Belvedere’s two-goal hero was subbed after picking up a knock, and moments later Dundalk forced a corner, but Gary Shevlin’s delivery to the back post was headed wide by Darren Meehan.
And, again, the home side’s failure to convert a glaring chance was punished almost immediately as Belvedere made it 3-0 with their next attack on 57 minutes. Dundalk almost replied but McCaul couldn’t connect properly when well placed inside the box, and, moments later, on the hour-mark, the visitors added a fourth with a fine left-footed finish to the bottom corner. The Lilywhites instantly introduced Latvia native Gattis Logins and Dundalk got one back through McCaul who capitalised after the ‘keeper spilled a cross from Traynor. On 73 minutes, Logins should have done better with a header following a cross from Cian Byrne, before Osobe blasted an 18-yard effort narrowly wide of the post. Taaffe then intervened as Belvedere almost made it 5-1, and despite their best efforts Dundalk could not find another in the final minutes as they exited the cup, with late claims that the Belvedere ‘keeper spilled a long-range shot over the line waved away.
DUNDALK YOUTHS (4-5-1): Ciarán Taaffe; Mark Leavy, Cian Byrne, Darren Meehan, Niall Hearty; Glen Traynor ©, Kurt Murphy (Jamie McCaul HT), Gary Shevlin, Dami Kusigbagbe (Karl Martin 67), Michael Osobe; Conor Macken (Gattis Logins 61).
Goal: J McCaul (62).
Booked: G Traynor (19), M Leavy (86).
Unused Subs: Nathaniel Cooney (GK), Kieran Clinton, Patrick McShane, Martin Murphy.