HOME ARE THE HE­ROES!

Wexford People - - FRONT PAGE - By ANNA HAYES

North End United’s cap­tain Paul Mur­phy and man­ager John God­kin cel­e­brate out­side Jim McGee’s in John Street dur­ing a tri­umphant homecoming to mark the Wex­ford team’s vic­tory over Pike Rovers in the FAI New Bal­ance Ju­nior Cup fi­nal at the Aviva Sta­dium in Dublin on Satur­day.

HIS­TORY MAK­ERS North End United are con­tin­u­ing their cel­e­bra­tions this week, af­ter win­ning the FAI New Bal­ance Ju­nior Cup at the week­end.

The Sky Blues be­came the first Wex­ford team to tri­umph in the com­pe­ti­tion, beat­ing Lim­er­ick out­fit Pike Rovers 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out at the Aviva Sta­dium. The com­pe­ti­tion is the big­gest ama­teur sport­ing event in Europe with 650 teams bat­tling it out over the past few months.

North End, un­der the man­age­ment of club stal­wart John God­kin, played seven games to win the ti­tle.

Club chair­man Sean Dempsey said it was an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment for the club, which will cel­e­brate its 50th an­niver­sary in two years’ time. While he was on pho­tog­ra­pher duty on the day, he said the at­mos­phere in the sta­dium was electric, re­mark­ing that the ra­tio of North End to Pike fans was about five to one.

Sup­port­ers and for­mer club mem­bers had, he pointed out, trav­elled from far and near to be part of the oc­ca­sion. The club ran five buses to the Aviva, while three car­riages of the train filled up, re­sult­ing in two more run­ning for the day. Many oth­ers drove up them­selves while var­i­ous clubs and or­gan­i­sa­tions ran their own buses to Dublin.

While the match was a tight af­fair, the book­mak­ers had North End tipped as favourites and Sean said they were con­fi­dent of their play­ers’ abil­i­ties.

‘I’ve been with the club for­ever - I was ac­tu­ally the first man to ever wear a North End jersey. We’ve man­aged the lads since they were eight years old and we knew what they could do.’

He said that goalkeeper Lee Walker, who made a vi­tal save in the shoot-out, could al­ways be re­lied on to make one or two big saves when it came to penal­ties.

‘When Gary De­laney stepped up and scored the win­ning penalty, the place ex­ploded.’

The team brought their cel­e­bra­tions to the Tal­bot Stil­lor­gan on their way home where they were joined by a huge crowd of fans. They con­tin­ued the fes­tiv­i­ties in Jim McGee’s bar on Satur­day night, and went to Browne’s Bar, Sin­nott’s and the Bu­gler Doyle’s on Sun­day.

They will visit lo­cal schools in the com­ing weeks with the cup.

Two men who, un­for­tu­nately, were not present for the game were Sean’s son, Shane Dempsey and Lee Smith, two vi­tal mem­bers of the squad who were on peace­keep­ing du­ties with the De­fence Forces in Syria.

De­spite the men’s best at­tempts, their re­quests to travel home for the game were re­fused.

Sean said: ‘They’ve been talk­ing to the team over the week­end and they even got to watch the match in Syria on Her­ald Striker’s live stream.’

He ex­plained that the two sol­diers had some time off and man­aged to get a good WiFi con­nec­tion in or­der to watch the game.

‘We tried every chan­nel we could to get them home for the game but the lo­gis­tics were ex­tremely dif­fi­cult and it just couldn’t be done.’

Sean paid fur­ther tribute to team man­ager John God­kin who, he said, man­aged not only the men’s se­nior team but also did huge work in the club’s un­der­age struc­ture as well, say­ing he was one of the core mem­bers of the club.

‘John has been driv­ing the club to­wards this for a long time. He’s been man­ag­ing for nearly 25 years and we of­ten say that if we could pe­ti­tion for an eight-day week, it would mean he’d get a day off!’

Sean ex­pressed his grat­i­tude to all of the club’s spon­sors, es­pe­cially Brian Ho­gan and the Faythe Phar­macy who are the main spon­sors.

He added that the club would be com­mem­o­rat­ing the mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion with a spe­cial sou­venir pro­gramme that would be com­piled and avail­able in the near fu­ture.

Andy Moore and John Fen­lon. TOP OF PAGE: The North End United play­ers stand for the team pic­ture ahead of the FAI New Bal­ance Ju­nior Cup Fi­nal match against Pike Rovers at the Aviva Sta­dium.

Lee Wadding, Lee Walker, Andy Moore and Decky Downes.

Kyle Dempsey, Gary Byrne, Robin Dempsey and Lee Walker.

Cap­tain Paul Mur­phy and man­ager John God­kin.

Coach Denny Carthy and kit man Shane Roche.

Jimmy Carty and Shane O’Con­nor.

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