Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Western Bureau:Irwin Primary are the inaugural Samsung Cup rural area champions, after their thrilling 1-0 victory in yesterday's final against favourites Corinaldi Avenue Primary at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.
Maliko Holness scored the all-important goal that took his school to the summit of the championship and a place in next Saturday's all-island title game against Holy Family Primary, the Kingston champions.
Irwin rode their luck especially in the semi-final where it took seven penalty kicks to get by a stubborn Howard Cooke Primary, after both teams played to an exciting 2-2 draw at full time. And after five spot kicks each, the score was still tied at 5-5 and it went to sudden-death penalty kicks before Howard Cooke came up one short and Irwin danced into the final.
It was much easier for Corinaldi Avenue, who dismissed Bethel Primary 4-0 with relative ease in the semi-final.
Earlier in the quarter-finals, they brushed aside St James Prep 2-0, while Bethel edged Clark's Town 3-2 in dramatic fashion and Irwin held off Holland Primary 4-3 on penalties, after playing to a 1-1 draw in regulation. Howard Cooke had the biggest margin of victory of all the schools in the quarter-finals. They thrashed Mt Alvernia Primary 7-0, with striker Alex Forbes scoring four times.
André Neil, coach at Irwin Primary, said that his team went back to the basics after their semi-final and turned it on against Corinaldi.
"We are happy; we changed our tactics for this Corinaldi side and the players executed well and are now champions," reasoned Neil, whose team captain Conroy Allen was also chosen as Most Valuable Player, as well as one of three top players. Forbes and Damian Spence of Corinaldi Avenue were the other two players named in the top three.