It was the big one, following on from the disappointment of losing the Albert Walsh Semi-final on Tuesday, Harps hadn’t got time to feel sorry for themselves as they headed to the Home of Ballymun Utd to take on Raheny Utd in one of the most prestigious cup finals in junior football the Polikoff Cup.
The sun was shining, and the pitch was a sight from the Crucible that Ronnie O Sullivan would of been delighted with.
Harps got the game underway and straight from the off Raheny made their intention known pushing high up the pitch and forcing an early corner in the second minute which was duly met with a header but was delt with by Harps keeper Leigh Sullivan .Harps then settled into the game finding opportunities on the left with Ross Woods showing the maturity of a senior player despite being only 17 years old, His link up with Arron Kelly in the middle of the park was causing problems ,A defensive mix up in the 18th min led to the Harps first real chance ,The defender was waiting for the keeper to claim and the keeper was hoping the defender would clear and Ben Bosze picked there pocket and only for a brilliant recovery from the Raheny defender it was a certainty that Harps would take the lead.
The Raheny bench where very positive in the instructions to help their team settle and find some rhythm and it worked with Harps keeper pulling off a fantastic save to keep the scores 0-0 as Raheny found another gear.
A strike from Ben Bosze led to a corner for the Harps and the delivery from Darren Tinnelly deceived everyone including the Raheny Keeper and the Harps where 1-0 to the good with 33 mins on the clock .
There was now real urgency in the Raheny play moving the ball effortlessly trying to find the killer ball to level the scores but Darragh Kelly & Brian o Connor where unbelievable!! strong in the tackle! strong in the air! and never looked panicked and the teams headed into the dressing rooms at half time 1-0 to the Harps.
The second half started the way the first ended with both teams playing some fantastic football, Leigh Sullivan in the Harps goal was inspirational saving low at the feet of the Raheny No9. Harps Cian Huges won the ball in the middle of the park and slipped it wide to Ross Woods who lifted his head and played a 50-yard diagonal ball to the feet of Darren Tinnelly and with a drop of the shoulder and a “Tino Chop” Tinnelly made it 34 for the season and put the Harps into a 2-0 lead on 54 mins.
The Raheny bench where forced into action and they made three changes to try change the flow of the game and for a short time it worked but Harps soon found there second wind and it was tit for tat, Harps could of easily gone 3-0 but in the same breath it could of been 2-1. Matty Cullen and Jack Farrell where introduced from the Harps bench and the fresh legs worked as they looked to put the game to bed ,A nasty clash of heads between two Raheny players delayed the game for 5-6 mins and forced a 4th substitution from Raheny , in the final stages Harps were just getting the rub of the green and you could feel that their name was written on the cup but the sign of a very good team is one that never gives up and make no mistake Raheny United are one of them, all the way until the 96th min they push Ratoath Harps but at the sound of the final whistle Ratoath Harps where the worthy winners and claimed the 2024 Polikoff Cup. Ratoath Harps led from the back with Harps keeper Leigh Sullivan picking up Man of the Match,Darragh Kelly , Paul Kennedy ,Brian o Connor and Robbie Marks where just incredible in the Harps Defence , left Backs never get the plaudits but a special mention to Robbie Marks performance today as Roy Keane would say “ It’s His Job “ but well done Robbie job well done son …
We are delighted for the Squad and for the coaching team of Mark Fagan ,Des Mc Loughlin ,Mark Woods & Eoghan Doody