Bobby Dalzell Cup final
Wednesday, 30 December 2015
IT IS 33 years to the day since Annalong Swifts won the Bobby Dalzell Cup when they beat Mourne Rovers on penalties, but no spot kicks were required on Boxing Day when the Hillmount Park side disposed with the Cup favourites Ballyvea 3-1 in a pulsating old fashioned cup tie more relating to the eighties when they last won the coveted trophy which was also filled with history as the late Bobby Dalzell's grandson and great grandson helped in the presentation at the end of one of the best finals watched by the biggest crowd in memory on a terrible day of wet weather.
The pitch was a credit to the Drumaness Club and praise must go to them for allowing the game to take place as it was touch and go at the eleven am inspection.
The game moved off with the large crowd still filing into Meadowvale and straight into the action with an early scare for Annalong as they had to be alert to scoop an early effort from Mark Burden off the goal line with assistant referee Russell right up, with play and well positioned to wave play on.Then it was down at the other end where Annalong striker Stephen Burden somehow screwed his finish over the bar when well placed.
End to end was the order of the day for the next 19 minutes then Annalong went ahead thanks to a speculative strike from Gregory Forsythe when he took everyone including Main in the Ballyvea goal by surprise when he unleashed a 30 yard screamer into the Ballyvea net, a goal which set the tone for the game with the Cup favourites behind.
Play continued to ebb and flow just like the tide in Annalong Harbour to which the new Dalzell Cup was on its way from then on as the Hillmount side seemed more at ease with their smooth passing style than Ballyvea who tended to hurry everything too much .
The second half started however with Ballyvea looking intent on changing things maybe with manager Alan Haugh's half-time words ringing in their ears, and five minutes in Ballyvea had the game all square thanks to a well taken goal by Timothy Johnston who swivelled on the penalty spot to rifle to the Annalong net with most people thinking game on.
Ballyvea as expected looked revived for a short period but soon Annalong were back to doing what they do best passing the ball on the floor and it brought its rewards in the 80th minute when after the award of a free kick to them some 40 yards from goals their little dynamo in the middle of the park Matthew McConnell hit a perfect drive along the skiddy surface which bounced about in the Ballyvea box before it fell to Man of the Match Daniel McElderry, who made no mistake from 10 yards to put the Swifts 2-1 up with only 10 to go.
Ballyvea were deflated now and were not looking like any sort of comeback, but Alan Henning's side were not finished yet until the 85th minute when that man McElderry who was only home for Christmas from University hit the net again from a well placed header from a Mark Newell corner to send the already noisy Annalong support wild with delight as they played out the remaining minutes with ease as the Ballyvea supporters drifted away early for the long quiet journey home.
Referee Reynolds who had a good game applying loads of common sense gave Annalong what they had come for when he blew the final whistle to trigger a party of celebration in the centre of the Meadowvale pitch which is probably still going on in the Harbour at Annalong.
Congratulations to Annalong and Ballyvea who both contributed to a great final played in a sporting way and well supported by two sets of supporters as well as a big neutral crowd who must have enjoyed one of the best finals since the early days of the Newcastle League.
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