[Report] North End crowned Wexford Cup champions after win over Ferns United

North End secured their 13th Wexford Cup as they ran out winners on a comfortable 4-1 scoreline, but it was a lot more difficult than the scoreline showed which is a credit to Ferns United’s display on the day…

North End started the brightest and got ahead on 10 minutes through Niall Connolly as he fired low into the corner after Paul Murphy slid him the ball on the edge of the box. Ferns had a great chance on 20 mins as Paudie Casey sprayed a beautiful pass on the half-volley out wide and in behind to Conor Jordan who raced clear and rolled the ball across the box to Jack Reck to tap home. Ferns’ joy was short-lived as the linesman raised the offside flag which looked to be a questionable decision at best.

Ferns’ misery was compounded minutes later as Eoin Rhodes latched onto a defensive mistake to fire home from inside the box and make the score 2-0. I will be the first to admit that I felt it was game over at this stage, I thought North End would win comfortably but Ferns were determined to make this final a contest.

Paudie Casey again threaded the needle with a delightful pass as he released his brother Seamie through on goal, Seamie took his time and composed himself but unfortunately for him and Ferns he took half a second too long as Joey Jackson raced back and made a crucial tackle to nick the ball off Casey’s toe as he was about to pull the trigger.

At about 40 mins there was another curious decision made. There was a collision in the box between Ciaran Murphy and Donal Porter, and while it looked to everyone that it probably should have been a free out if anything, the referee was the only one in the ground that decided it was a penalty. Ciaran Murphy dusted himself off and fired the penalty into the corner to make the score 2-1. There were some interesting scenes after the penalty which saw Murphy run-up to the North End keeper and make some comments to which Gary Delaney took exception to, and he then ran in to defend his keeper. It all ended with a yellow card for Delaney and nothing further.

Kyle Dempsey hit the post with a header right before halftime after a great ball in from Niall Connolly. There was time for one more chance and one more interesting decision from the officials before the break. Niall Connolly set a free kick goalwards and the effort was parried by the keeper and the on-rushing Eoin Rhodes bundled home but the linesman decided to flag for offside which again was a very curious decision. I don’t think the officials impacted the outcome too much, but it is fair to say that they got the big decisions wrong in the first half. The second half was a lot better thankfully in that regard.

After the break, North End nearly caught Ferns cold as Kyle Dempsey hit the post for a second time following a scramble in the box after a corner. The second half was more of a cautious affair with fewer chances for either side. At the 60th-minute mark, Paudie Casey again showed off his excellent passing range as he played a 60-yard pass in behind for Ciaran Murphy to race onto and he just got there ahead of the North End keeper Jason McGuire who took Murphy down in the box and the ref showed no hesitation when pointing to the spot. Murphy again stepped up but this time McGuire redeemed himself as he made a big save to keep the score at 2-1.

That was a massive moment in the game at a crucial time too, on the hour mark. Ferns lost a lot of momentum at that point and I think a change they made moving Paudie Casey to centre-back hindered them as he was giving them some real creativity in midfield. At 70 minutes, the game got away from Ferns as they conceded a penalty which was the correct decision by the officials. Sharpshooter Paul Murphy stepped up and slotted the ball down the middle to make the score 3-1.

There was one last chance for Ferns to make the last few minutes interesting as Ciaran Murphy produced a world-class save from McGuire from close range. North End added some gloss to the scoreline as Kyle Dempsey showed great effort and energy to pinch the ball off the Ferns defender in the 85th minute, the ball got to Darby Purcell who, when was one-on-one with the keeper, was extremely unselfish as he rolled the ball to the onrushing Alan Rhodes and Rhodes tapped home to end the contest.

It was a fair result as I do think that North End were the better team on the day and created the better chances. However, I don’t think they were 3 goals better than Ferns as they did create some excellent chances and if the penalty is converted at 2-1 we could be looking at an entirely different outcome.

My man of the match on the day has to go to the North End winger who terrorised the defenders all day with his pace and trickery.

All eyes will now turn to the Wexford Premier Division playoff for the league title between North End and Gorey Rangers, which is set for Thursday the 1st of June.

Adam Connor

From Gorey, Adam is a columnist with Wexford Weekly with a passion for football.

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