Glenavon Under-16s   0 Cliftonville Under-16s   3

Lurgan Town Arena, Lurgan

Monday 6th May 2024

Glenavon U-16s were beaten 3-0 by Cliftonville U-16s in the Northern Ireland Boys’ F.A.’s Under-16 Cup Final.

Goals by Caoimhin Frith (24, 31 mins) and Thomas Duffin (69 mins) enabled the North Belfast side to win the competition.

The first half, a largely scrappy affair, was enlivened by Frith’s two goals. For the first, Shay Reid played a neat sideways pass for the diminutive number 17 to side-foot the ball into the net. Reid also created the second with a pinpoint through pass which Frith skilfully poked past the onrushing Lucas Fry. Ironically, other than the two strikes, Cliftonville rarely threatened.

In the 20th minute Glenavon might have taken the lead when Chris Atherton made a decisive break on the left and crossed low for Matthew Allen to shoot from 6 yards. Reds’ goalkeeper Daragh Rooney moved smartly to his right to make a fine save.

In between Frith’s goals, Troy Savage had a chance to shoot. However, Rooney easily gathered his tame attempt.

Glenavon had the majority of possession in the second half but was unable to turn territorial dominance into goals.

Shay Reid, the outstanding player on view, almost snatched a third for Cliftonville when, on a breakaway, he found himself with only Fry to beat but shot wide from outside the penalty area.

In another Cliftonville attack Owen Mahoney struck the inside of the upright with a terrific right foot effort.

At the other end Matthew Allen headed just wide from a free kick.

Chris Atherton made a telling run across the edge of the penalty area but when the ball fell to Troy Savage he scuffed his shot and Rooney saved easily.

James Heaney crossed from the right but Charles Gault, standing 12 yards out, side-footed the ball tamely into Rooney’s hands.

Cliftonville sealed its victory when Reid picked out Thomas Duffin at the far post from a free-kick and the number eight blasted the ball into the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Glenavon coach Tim Lennon was disappointed with his team’s display. “We didn’t perform,” he conceded. “Cliftonville were much more clinical than us and deserved to win. I have no complaints.”

Lennon bemoaned his side’s lack of penetration. “We had a lot of the ball in their half, but we didn’t threaten enough. We weren’t brave in possession. We didn’t work their goalkeeper.”

“Having said all of that, it is tough for teenagers playing in a big final in front of a large crowd,” he continued. “Hopefully, our lads will benefit from the experience.”

GLENAVON: Lucas Fry, Ryan Niblock, Reiss Neill, Harrison Crooks, Ben Wilson, Matthew Allen, Charles Gault, Luke McGerrigan, James Heaney, Chris Atherton, Troy Savage, SUBS: Jake McConville for Ryan Niblock (41 mins), Brody Moore (not used), Calum Cope for Luke Gerrigan (60 mins), James Curran (not used), Jack McLaughlin (not used).

CLIFTONVILLE: Daragh Rooney, Alex Heaney, Oisin Gamble, Ben McManus, Owen Mahoney, Thomas Duffin, Shay Reid, Brendan Seenan, Che Skillen, Caoimhin Frith, Alfie Mitchell, SUBS: Michael Thomas Simpson for Che Skillen (47 mins), Ben Shields for Caoimhin Frith (half-time), Kevin McAllister (not used), Padraig Kelly for Brendan Seenan (61 mins).

REFEREE: Lauren Trainor.

Chris Atherton – created openings for Matthew Allen and Troy Savage.