Sheriff YC win FAI Junior Cup
The left-winger settled the Aviva Stadium final on 32 minutes by rising high at the far post to power a header beyond goalkeeper Gary Neville following Paul Murphy’s pinpoint cross.
Although Sheriff should have extended their lead shortly after the restart through Darren O’Brien’s header which sailed over, they were made to withstand Pike’s late rally which saw Sean O’Callaghan and substitute Colin Daly fashion chances to equalise.
It wasn’t enough, however, for the 2011 winners from Limerick, allowing Sheriff to avenge the defeat they suffered to local rivals Liffey Wanderers at the Dublin 4 venue in last year’s decider.
The Dublin side dominated from the outset, with Darren Dunne bossing the midfield area.
On the half hour, they came close to forging ahead when John Lester nodded a cross from Higgins into the path John Rock, who turned brilliantly six yards out but blazed his volley over the crossbar.
Sheriff only to wait another two minutes for the breakthrough to arrive as captain Murphy raided down the raid before telegraphing a deep cross for Higgins to apply a bullet header high into the net.
Seven minutes into the second half, O’Brien could have put the tie to bed after he raced clear, lobbed the ball over the advancing Neville but somehow nodded over from six yards with an empty net to aim for.
Pike struggled to get going as an attacking force and the loss of playmaker Stephen McGann on the hour to a hamstring injury dented them further.
Still, they gave Sheriff a few nervy moments in the final 20 minutes, firstly when O’Callaghan looped his header a yard over from Paddy O’Malley’s cross.
Cian Collins then had a penalty claim rebuffed after falling under the challenge of Anto Kavanagh box before Daly cut in from the left and smashed his shot off-target.
Their best opportunity of forcing extra-time fell to centre-back O’Callaghan four minutes from the end when he found space 20 yards out to drag a low shot wide with goalkeeper Lee Murphy beaten.
SHERIFF YC: L Murphy; P Murphy, Kavanagh, O’Neill, Lynch; Lester; Sean Murphy (Glen 84), O’Brien, D Dunne, Higgins (T Dunne 81); Rock.
PIKE: Neville; W O'Donovan, P Mullins, O'Callaghan, E O'Donovan; Connery, Colbert, Walsh (J Mullins 46), Collins; McGann (O’Malley 62); G Higgins (Daly 57).
Referee: Jonathan Walsh.