Sports

Castlederg High clinch McKee Cup

Thursday, 2 March 2017

THE Fermanagh and Western Schools Football Association's U16 McKee Cup final was contested between Omagh High School and Castlederg High school at Ballinamallard United football club.

Castlederg High School ...2
Omagh High School ...0

The Premier Fermanagh and Western Schools competition is played in a league format with the top two sides playing in the final.

Castlederg entered the final in fine form and as slight favourites having won the meeting of the two sides earlier in the season. Omagh High were also in confident mood with a number of returning players that missed the previous meeting of the sides. A large crowd of supporters anticipated a tight contest and were not disappointed.

The game kicked off in near perfect conditions. It was the Castlederg boys who settled into the game first and also had the first meaningful effort on goal. Patience build up lead to Aaron Cochrane being relished from full back with a dangerous ball played across the Omagh box. This would become a pattern of the half with Castlederg wide players Warner Ballantyne and Adam Young, with the assistance of Cochrane, causing real problems.

The first shot on target in the game came from such an attack. Again the pace and movement of Castlederg front three lead to a shot from Jamie Finlay. The tall centre forward being denied by an excellent save from Omagh keeper, Matthew McIIwaine, saving low to his right turning the shot round the post.

Jamie Finlay didn't have to wait long for another opportunity. Adam Young delivered a deep free kick towards Omagh's back post. Slight hesitation from the Omagh defence allowed Finlay to calmly finish from close range.

As the first half came to a close it was Omagh who were applying all the pressure spending long periods in the Castlederg half, with a series of free kicks and corners. However the Castlederg defence lead by skipper James Harpur was holding firm and limited Omagh to a few half chances. Omagh's William Pinkerton was a constant aerial threat, however Matthew Allen had been tasked with marking the Omagh front man. Allen's performance would lead to him being awarded man of the match.

The second half started as the first with Castlederg edging the possession and territory. Castlederg midfield trio of Jamie Burke, Adam Hempton and Dylan Russell using the ball well in attack while also working hard in defence. Repeated attacks by Castlederg were stopped by the Omagh defence with Ben Thompson, the Omagh captain, leading by example throughout.

Castlederg thought they had given themselves breathing space when Adam Young was played through beating McIlwaine to the ball and finishing neatly. Celebrations were short lived as the referee adjudged Young to have crept offside.

Young's pace was a constant threat for the Castlederg boys and again he found himself bearing down on Omagh's goal after a well-timed pass from Jamie Burke. This time the Castlederg man could only hit the side netting.

Warner Ballantyne was another Castlederg player who had put himself in contention for the man of the match award. His work rate and commitment was rewarded with seven minutes left of normal time. After a blocked shot the ball fell to Ballantyne who showed quick reactions and a cool head to finish and give Castlederg a two goal cushion. With the final whistle approaching Castlerg closed the game out to claim the cup for the first time since 2012.

Speaking at the end of the game, Mr David Burns, PE teacher at Castlederg High, said: "I am very pleased with the boys performance and the result.

"These boys have shown fantastic potential and worked hard this year. It was an excellent final; both teams deserve credit for their performances."

Mr Dessie Gamble, outgoing Secretary of the FWSFA, was on hand to present the cup and runners-up shield. Mr David Rennie, PE teacher at Omagh High, congratulated both sides on their efforts through the season. He also, on behalf of all players' past and present, expressed a sincere thanks to Mr Gamble for his work and dedication to schools football over the years. Staff and players from both schools would like to pass on their thanks to Ballinamallard for the use of their pitch and their continued support of the Fermanagh and Western Schools FA.

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