Kearon the star man as Arklow sink Portlaoise
SOCCER UNDER-15 S.F.A.I. EVANS CUP
Arklow Town 4, Portlaoise 1: A superb performance from striker John Kearon illuminated a good U-15 S.F.A.I. Evans Cup contest between Arklow Town and visitors Portlaoise at a chilly Bridgewater Centre Park on Saturday afternoon last.
With a place in the open draw for the last 32 at national level up for grabs both sides sparred with each other over the opening exchanges.
The deadlock was broken however in the tenth minute with Darragh O’Leary whipping in a ball from the left flank that was met by Kearon, his first touch immaculate, swivelling and then firing low and hard into the Portlaoise net to edge Town ahead.
The home side doubled their lead in the twentieth minute with Arklow attacking once more down the left wing. O’Leary crossed into the area and the away defence failed to scramble clear, with the ball hopping up nicely for John Kearon to smash high into the top corner.
The Laois side rallied in the second-half, determined to find a way back into the contest and indeed they may have forced their way back into the game where it not for an excellent save from Town’s Anthony Nolan.
With Arklow’s next attack the contest was put beyond the visitors, fifteen minutes into the half. Ian Reid, enjoying a wonderful season so far, and again on this occasion a highly influential figure, showed great awareness to spot Kearon in full flight and goalbound. Reid played a perfectly weighted pass that dissected the defence and gave Kearon a glorious opportunity to secure Arklow’s passage into the last 32, a chance he never looked likely to spurn as he secured his hat-trick, and Town’s third goal.
It was to get better for Kearon but not before Portlaoise scored a consolation goal, against the run of play.
Still, it was to be the Arklow man’s day, contesting an aerial ball with the away side’s keeper and central defender, the ball struck Kearon on the back and he was first to react, slotting home from close range.
Kearon was deservedly acclaimed as man of the match after his disciplined performance ensured Town advanced, as they did last season also, to the national level in this season’s Evans Cup. Further good news for the Arklow side with the return from injury of the influential Mark Hardy. Hardy, who starred for the Republic of Ireland Emerging Talent side competing in the Umbro Cup pre-season has been sidelined for a number of weeks with injury and his return is well-timed as Town set their focus on matching last season’s run to the last eight at national level in S.F.A.I. cup competition. On this performance, Arklow look highly capable.
Arklow Town, who beat Portlaoise in the U-15 S.F.A.I. Evans Cup.
Arklow Town's John Kearon, who scored all four goals in the S.F.A.I. Evans Cup win for Town over Portlaoise.