A FOURTEEN PLAYER SQUAD of our Under 12s left Dublin last Friday to represent St Patrick's Athletic in the tri-angular tournament, “La Copa Internacional” with FC Barcelona and Europa SC.
The tournament was played in a competitive but very sporting manner.
The Saints faced FC Barcelona in the first game watched by over 500 people. Both sides moved the ball well and tried to get forward at every opportunity. The best chance for the Saints fell to Craig Smithers who was unmarked following his late run into the box, but he shot straight at the Barca goalkeeper.
Stephen Murphy and Derek Warren also came close. Sterling defending by Gareth Byrne and Alex Dolan stifled any threat from the Catalans as the game finished 0-0 with Pats slightly shading the encounter.
In their second game The Saints dominated the early exchanges but slowly Europa SC took control as the extreme heat of the day began to tell.
As the game entered the final stages Pats somehow found a second wind and Derek Warren had his shot superbly saved by the athletic Europa goalkeeper.
Wonderful skill by Keifer Byrne created the next Saints next chance as he dribbled by three challenges only to see his shot smothered by the Europa goalkeeper.
As the game now entered the final moments Europa carved open the Saints defence.
Saint's keeper Anthony Brogan was left facing a 1 on 1 situation but remarkably pulled off an amazing save to deny the Europa number 8. However the ball bounced back to the same forward leaving him with an unguarded net and Brogan grounded.
Unbelievably Brogan somehow blocked the second shot taking the sting out of the drive and giving midfielder Smithers the chance to block the ball on the line. With 2 forwards charging in Smithers blocked again allowing Brogan to dive on the loose ball to quell the danger.
The Saints then immediately launched an attack - driving down the left wing, Mikey James crossed to the edge of the box - the ball was half cleared to the in running Jason Ryan.
Ryan's first time shot from 20 yards flew past the extended hand of the diving Europa goalkeeper to nestle in the bottom corner and spark wild celebrations among the Saints' players. The goal came with minutes left as the Red & Whites earned a tremendous 1-0 win. In the final game of the tournament FC Barcelona defeated Europa SC 4-1 to finish top of the three way group on goal difference.