Ennis Dons edged a hard fought derby to take the first silverware of the season.
On a wet as windy night in Frank Healy Park, Ryan Jennings’ header early the second half ultimately proved the difference between the sides.
The goal appeared to give Dons renewed energy and belief, qualities that were required to withstand everything Hermitage threw at them in the game’s final moments.
This was a sold all round team performance from Ennis Dons with the individual moments of quality supplied by Jack Devitt at fullback, Kingsley Maokombe and Barry Woods in midfield.
In an entertaining and fast paced contest, there was little to separate the teams. Hermitage had enough chances to take the lead and will reflect on those periods either side of half time when they played their best football.
Much of what was good about Tage flowed from the performance of Davie Keenan who quickly set about making his mark on the final.
Keenan already had showed flashes of quality when he gathered Richie Fitzgerald’s free in the 12th minute, turned sharply and whipped a shot across goal.
Dons defender Alex Akujobi then showed great pace to nick the ball away from Davie Keenan as he bore down on goal.
At the other end, Kingsley Maokombe saw his strike well held by Hermitage goalkeeper Mark Cleary.
Robbie Gormley more than played his part on the wing for Tage and his cross was almost turned in by Fitzgerald before Dons goalkeeper, Bryan Clune, did well to keep out Shane Talty’s long range volley.
Dons moved the ball well but found it difficult to break down the Hermitage defence.
Tage had two good chances just before half time to take the lead. Davie Keenan scorched down the left wing and dragged his shot wide before Peter Keenan volleyed over Finn Whyte’s cross with the goal at his mercy.
The sides were still deadlocked at 0-0 when Akujobi produced another fine tackle to to halt Davie Keenan’s progress, minutes into the second half.
The final was finely poised when Ennis Dons made the breakthrough.
In the 55th minute, Jack Devitt floated a free kick to the edge of the Hermitage box. Ryan Jennings rose highest and headed the ball goal-wards. It wasn’t the most forceful of headers but the ball took a wicked bounce of the wet ground and spun past Cleary into the corner of the net.
Far from sitting on the lead, Ennis Dons took control and played their best football of the match. Makombe had a chance to seal victory in the 41st minute when his striker was tipped over the bar by Cleary.
Hermitage forced a spell of late pressure but Dons were not to be denied and the final whistle sparked wild celebrations.
Ennis Dons: Bryan Clune; Declam Ensko; Caoilfhinn McNelis; Alex Akujobi; Jack Devitt; Fergus Lyons; Sam Browne; Brian Flynn; Kingsley Makombe; Barry Woods; Ryan Jennings. Subs: David McCready; Michael Akujobi; Daniel Malone; David Roche; Peter O’Brien; Greg Howard; Cathal Clune.
Hermitage: Mark Cleary; Lee O’Loughlin; Finn Whyte; Pa Sherlock; Richie Fitzgerald; Shane Talty; Robbie Gormley; Arthur Rodgers; Davie Keenan; Emreh Zekiri; Peyer Keenan: Subs: Tomas Radilek; Bryan Gannon; Anto Whyte; Peter Molloy; Keith Killeen; Ben Quinn; Mark Donovan.
Referee: Michael Rock
Assistant referee: John Kelly