Northend United 1 Shankill United 2 Friday 7th April 2022
Northend U16s competitive season came to a premature end on Friday night with a League Cup semi-final defeat to Belfast side Shankill. On a cold night at Jordanstown 3G Northend were up against it right from the off against a fired-up opposition. The Belfast side gave Northend no time to settle and were closing them down at every opportunity. Shankill’s midfield dominated the game for much of the first half although keeper Tom Hasson was rarely troubled as the central defensive partnership of Eryk Hejno and Justin Mark were in outstanding form again. However, Northend’s trademark quick passing and movement was rarely on show and front men Euan Pirie and Carter Reid found it difficult to have any impact on the game in the first half. A tough physical encounter got to half time with no score. Half time 0-0
Shankill eventually took the lead fifteen minutes into the second half when their left winger got free and sent in a dangerous cross which was fired home by midfielder Ben Irvine. As has been the case many times this season Northend fought back and equalised within three minutes when striker Euan Pirie was brought down just outside the Shankill penalty area and Kaylem Corcoran converted a great free kick. At this stage Northend’s fitness was beginning to tell and Shankill were penned back for much of the last fifteen minutes. However, with only four minutes remaining Shankill broke forward and substitute Paul Briers managed to round keeper Tom Hasson and fire home from a tight angle to put the Belfast side ahead again. Northend piled on the pressure in the closing minutes and a well hit volley from Euan Pirie was well saved by Shankill keeper Cori Crossley. However, Northend could not find an equaliser and Shankill progressed to the League Cup Final where they will face Lisburn Rangers. Full time 1-2
Sadly, a momentous first season in the South Belfast Youth League finally came to an end leaving all players and coaches feeling somewhat deflated. However, this result should not take away from what has been an outstanding and highly successful season, winning both the Supplementary Cup and Division One League titles.
Team manager Jamie Pirie had this to say:
“We sat down with the players last June not knowing if we would even have a squad to take into any league this season. What this group of players have achieved these past months is testament to their attitude and ability. They have been a credit to Northend United Youth FC, their families and each other. In addition, they have had the experience and vision of coach John Devlin to guide them on their way and it is my sincere hope that we can all continue this work in progress next season.”
Man of the Match: Justin Mark
Panel: T Hasson, D Patterson, J Mark, E Hejno, C Lyness, C O’Hara, S McDermott, H Connon, K Corcoran, E Pirie, C Hendron, C Reid, L Heggarty, K Gabrychowska, K Hughes
`Lisburn Rangers 2 Northend United 5 Friday 1st April 2022
Northend played their final group game of the Divisional Cup against Lisburn Rangers on Friday night under the lights at Rathmore Grammar 3G. As has happened in previous meetings between the teams this season, Lisburn came out firing on all cylinders and immediately had the Northend backline under pressure. Within a minute Lisburn went one up when they cut through the Northend defence and frontman Campbell tucked the ball away beyond a helpless Tom Hasson in the Northend goal. This was the wake-up call the whole Northend team needed, and they began to come into the game and press forward. On a couple of occasions centre-forward Euan Pirie got in behind the Lisburn defence without much to show for his efforts. Pirie and fellow front man Carter Reid were a constant threat and became more so when coach John Devlin dropped Pirie into a deeper role and pushed Reid into Pirie’s customary role at the point of the attack. Eventually Northend’s pressure told after 20 minutes when captain for the night Pirie fired home a Reid knock down from 25 yards, leaving the Lisburn keeper with no chance. Ten minutes later Northend went ahead when a great through ball from Sean McDermott was well controlled on his chest by Reid and he turned to fire home an unstoppable volley from the edge of the box. Half-time 2-1
After the break Northend continued to dominate the game and Reid put them further ahead when he cut inside from the right wing and curled a great effort into the corner of the net. Lisburn countered on occasion but found the Northend centre-back pairing of Justin Mark and Eryk Hejno in outstanding form, ably supported by full-backs Patterson and Heggarty.
The midfield trio of McDermott, Connon and Pirie were dominating possession and Northend could have been out of sight long before McDermott scored a rare goal when he fired home the fourth with quarter of an hour left. Not to be outdone right winger Connor O’Hara added a fifth soon after when he went on a trademark mazy run, beating three defenders before sliding the ball home. Lisburn did get a consolation goal near the end when midfielder Jason Stewart fired home a great free-kick from 25 yards out.
So another outstanding performance from Northend with every player in the squad getting a chance to contribute to them qualifying for the semi-final stage of the competition as group winners. Full time 5-2
Men of the Match: Eryk Hejno, Euan Pirie
Panel: T Hasson, D Patterson, E Hejno, J Mark, S McDermott, L Heggarty, C Hendron, E Pirie, C O’Hara, K Gabrychowska, H Connon, C Reid, K Corcoran, K Hughes
Northend United 1 SOPFC 1 Saturday 26th March 2022
Northend played the second of three Divisional Cup group matches against St Oliver Plunkett’s at Mallusk this Saturday morning. Given the perfect weather it should have been a cracker of a match but the bumpy playing surface made life difficult for both sets of players. Northend had the better of the game in the first half and on another day could have been well in front but were wasteful in front of goal. They eventually went ahead when team captain Lewis Devlin headed in from a corner after 25 minutes. However, Northend failed to hold onto the lead and conceded the equaliser right on the stroke of half-time. Half-time 1-1
After half-time it was Northend who had the better of the early stages but the match was turned on its head when an off the ball incident resulted in three red cards being shown by the referee - Northend reduced to nine men and the Belfast side reduced to ten. Coach John Devlin hastily reorganised the boys and they dug deep to stay in the game and should have even won the game late on but Euan Pirie saw his penalty saved by Plunkett’s goalie Adam Carroll.
On the day the result was enough to progress Northend to the semi-final stage of the Divisional Cup competition and the coaching team were full of praise for how the team reorganised and stuck to the task after the double sending off. However, on another day they should have been out of sight and the sooner they start to be clinical in front of goal again the better. Full time 1-1
Man of the Match: Eryk Hejno
Panel: T Hasson, C Lyness, D Patterson, E Hejno, L Devlin, S McDermott, L Heggarty, C Hendron, E Pirie, C O’Hara, K Gabrychowska, C Reid, K Corcoran, K Hughes
Northend United 1 St Oliver Plunkett's 0 League Play-Off Saturday 12th Match 2022
A momentous season for Northend U16s culminated in a head to head league decider against Belfast side St. Oliver Plunkett FC on Saturday night at Harland & Wolff Welders’ Blanchflower Stadium. On a night of heavy rain and with the South Belfast Youth League Division 1 title at stake it turned into a cagey affair with both side’s defences on top and chances thin on the ground. St. Oliver Plunkett’s had the better of the early stages and full backs Patterson and Heggarty were at their best as the Belfast side attacked down the wings at every opportunity. However, as has been the case for most of this season, once Northend had weathered the early storm, the midfield trio of McDermott, O’Hara and Connon got a foothold in the game and started to drive Northend forward. Centre-forward Pirie, who has been in prolific form of late, was finding himself heavily marked and he was getting very little opportunity to add to this season’s goal tally. However, on the rare occasion he did escape his markers a great run and cross down the left wing found the head of Lyness and his knock down was drilled home by Connon for a priceless opener. The Belfast boys came right back at Northend and the Blues had to be thankful to keeper Hasson when he saved well from a great effort from just outside the box Half-time 1-0
After the break St Oliver Plunkett’s came right back at Northend as they sought an equaliser but time and again any danger was swept up by the impressive central defensive partnership of Devlin and Hejno. Northend always looked dangerous on the break and wingers Lyness and Corcoran were seeing plenty of the ball without creating any clear-cut scoring opportunities. The whole second half was end to end football but any real quality was suppressed by the wet conditions and also two excellent defences. In the end Northend held on for a deserved victory which confirmed them as SBYL Division 1 Champions for 2021-22. Full time 1-0
Man of the Match: Lewis Devlin
Panel: T Hasson, C Lyness, D Patterson, E Hejno, L Devlin, S McDermott, L Heggarty, H Connon, C Hendron, E Pirie, C O’Hara, K Gabrychowska, C Reid, K Corcoran
Northend United 2 Wellington Rec 0 Saturday 5th March 2022
Northend began their League Cup campaign against Wellington Rec on a perfect Saturday morning at Greenisland 3G. In support of the people of Ukraine at this time, Northend replaced their customary blue and white hooped kit for the new change kit in the yellow and blue of Ukraine – this kit will be worn for the remainder of their League Cup games as a mark of respect for people of Ukraine.
In an even-matched first half the Northend defence of Lyness, Hendron, Hejno and Heggarty had to be on their toes in the early stages as Wellie Rec constantly probed away looking for a way through. However, Hasson in the Northend goal was rarely troubled and anytime he was tested his handling was superb. Elsewhere the midfield pivot of McDermott and O’Hara worked tirelessly while Reid and Corcoran on the wings were ever eager to test the Wellie Rec full backs. Up front Pirie was a constant threat and was ably supported by the ever-improving Kacper Gabrychowska who got the opener when he put in a great header from a Corcoran corner – his first goal for Northend. Half-time 1-0
After the break Wellie Rec saw plenty of possession without converting it into any real scoring opportunities. However, it was Northend who provided the greater threat with Heggarty and Corcoran combining well up the left wing. As the game wore on Northend had to dig deep as the depleted squad tired but they eventually got a second goal when a great ball form Corocoran put O’Hara though to slot home and make the game safe. Wellie Rec continued to be a threat right to the end of the game and Hejno had to clear an effort off the line for Northend to keep a clean sheet. Full time 2-0
Man of the Match: Eryk Hejno
Panel: T Hasson, C Lyness, E Hejno, S McDermott, L Heggarty, C Hendron, E Pirie, C O’Hara, K Gabrychowska, C Reid, K Corcoran
Northend United 4 Lisburn Rangers 2 Monday 28th February 2022
Northend continued to get through a congested fixture schedule with a third match in six days on Monday night at Crumlin 3G against Lisburn Rangers. Needing another win to go joint top of the SBYL Division 1 the young blues faced a determined Lisburn side who started the game obviously up for the challenge. After only 5 minutes Lisburn Rangers took the lead through midfielder Jess. The recent run of games had obviously taken its toll physically and it took Northend fifteen minutes to get to the pace of the game but gradually the midfield trio of Connon, McDermott and O’Hara took control and wide men Lyness and Reid were seeing plenty of the ball. Northend equalised after 20 minutes when a ball played into Lyness from Reid wasn’t cleared and centre forward Pirie pounced to knock the ball into the net from six yards out. This spurred Northend on and Pirie put them ahead on the half hour mark when a ball played over the top by Connon was clinically shot home past the advancing keeper from 18 yards out. Northend at this point were well in control but conceded an equaliser right on the stroke of half-time when they failed to clear from a corner and Lisburn’s Stewart scrambled the ball home from close range. Half-time 2-2
After the break Lisburn Rangers failed to make the most of their good fortune just before half-time and Northend dominated for long spells of the second half with left-winger Reid a constant threat with his pace and thrusting runs. Reid saw two great efforts saved by the Lisburn keeper but eventually Northend regained the lead after 15 minutes when Lyness stoked home from 10 yards out after Pirie outpaced a Lisburn defender to cut back the ball from the bye-line. Lisburn continued to be a threat and Northend’s central defensive partnership of Devlin and Hejno were kept busy by Lisburn’s pacey front-man McKee. Indeed, Lisburn could have equalised but for a great stop from Northend keeper Hasson when one-on-one with McKee.
Northend got some breathing space when they went further ahead on the hour mark. Hendron burst down the right wing and put in a perfect cross for Pirie to place a great header beyond the Lisburn keeper from 10 yards out and complete his hat-trick – the third in as many games!
So, another great result puts the young blues top of the SBYL Division One and sets up a mouth-watering league decider against fellow top of the table side St Oliver Plunkett’s – a match to be played at the Harland & Wolff Welders FC Blanchflower Stadium next Saturday night 12 March. Full time 4-2
Man of the Match: Carter Reid
Panel: T Hasson, C Lyness, E Hejno, L Devlin, D Patterson, S McDermott, L Heggarty, C Hendron, H Connon, E Pirie, C O’Hara, K Gabrychowska, C Reid