On Sunday, Canaries defeated Dennery 1-nil to capture the Island Premier Cup Championship in a hotly contested match at the Phillip Marcelin Grounds [PMG], in Vieux Fort.
The epic clash, billed as an East/West Coast derby lived up to expectations as fans and supporters of the teams turned out en masse to witness an enthralling encounter.
And while football pundits may have deemed the outcome a major upset in national football championships, the Canaries coach Sherman Benjamin nonchalantly referred to the match as just another big challenge that the team managed to overcome. This was the west coast side’s first championship title win over the past five years.
Canaries played with composure and guile to take down Dennery, rated a powerhouse in local football.
Opposing sides came out with intensity in their play as they sort to create that opening initiative. But it was Dennery, driving hard with an aggressive intent and purpose to match that landed the first shot on target within the 25th minute, testing the goalkeeper with a curling shot that was neatly tipped over the bar.
Canaries hit back with a series of counter-attacks in the latter 10 minutes of that session to earn some set pieces, which included a corner kick and their closest shot on the mark.
Playing a well-coordinated mid-field role, the skipper Emery Edward kept his team in contention as they matched up against the Dennery strikers. Ably supported by his central defenders and an all-round team effort, he marshaled the squad to withstand the intensity of the challenge taking it deeper into the game.
Dennery employed the flanks widely in building up their attacks but had to face the might of a robust defense that would not yield.
Edward made his presence felt again when it mattered most, with a beautifully executed shot to goal from inside the box in the 77th minute. As Canaries pushed on with their offensive play, he coolly collected a through pass and then hit the ball on the volley into the nets.
With the clock ticking away and the vociferous fans drumming and cheering on, Canaries resisted any late attacks thrown at them to solidify their victory.
And when the final whistle went, it was sheer jubilation at the PMG, for the throngs of west coast fans that stormed out onto the field to congratulate the champions.
While admitting that this was a major championship title in its arsenal, coach Benjamin declared: “Yes it is, because it is a tournament where all the ‘big hitters’ are competing and we gave it our best and the best team came out on top”.
He added, “It has not been an easy tournament for us, but it has been one where we have given our all to be where we are today, and hopefully it is the start of things to come.”
Reflecting on their performance, where maintaining composure was the crux of their play, he said, “We had a game plan and we stuck to that from the first to the second half where we tried to expose their weakness, which we did more forcefully towards the end and were able to penetrate and get a goal.”
Commenting on the notion of a major upset victory, Benjamin added, “They are a really good team and so are we, but I would not consider it an upset …we were very evenly matched throughout the game and we tried our best. In the end, the team which wanted it the most won.”
At the post-match presentation, the awards were presented as follows:
– Canaries received the Championship trophy, gold medals, and $15,000 prize money,
– While for their valiant effort Dennery had to settle for the Runners Up trophy, silver medal, and $10,000.
In the Third Place Play-Off, Noah Lucky Nicholas with an 85th-minute strike ensured that the home team Vieux Fort South took in some silverware with a 1-nil triumph over Gros Islet.
At the end of the tournament, the leading goal scorers were Donavan Jn. Baptiste (Canaries) 10, followed by Aramis Gilbert (Gros Islet) and Ectus David Desruisseaux with 8 each and Noah Nicholas (Vieux Fort South) 7.
Three players namely Tev Lawrence (Gros Islet), Janai Lesmond (Marchand) and Jarvel Faucher scored 6 goals each.
Three players, Aaron Richard (Gros Islet), Saviola Elva (Vieux Fort South), and Lincoln Phillip (Marchand) registered 5 goals each.
Following the completion of the tournament, the final placings were as follows
3. Vieux Fort South
4. Gros Islet
6. Mabouya Valley
8. Central Castries
9. Roseau Valley