Five-star show from Annalong

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Five-star show from Annalong thumbnailFighting it out for the Harry Clarke Cup, Annalong Swifts and Newcastle. 10173am

IT WAS a five star show at Bear Park on Saturday when Annalong Swifts revenged their cup final defeat to Newcastle last season with five different scorers in a 5-0 rout.
The Newcastle side was only a shadow of the team they have been all season and in fact looked a beaten side from the first minute, when Stephen Burden fired a long range shot just wide of the Newcastle goal.
Their formation looked all out of sorts with Neil Corr struggling as he was being asked to play much higher up the park than normal and Felix Valentine was much deeper that normal, leaving their strike threat, James Magee fighting a lone battle up front.
Annalong's defenders were comfortable, leaving goalkeeper John Sloan only having to muster two punches to clear his lines in the first half. In that first half the Seasiders' goal threat was non-existent and in fact it was one-way traffic for most of the first period of play, which looked forever like Annalong would run up a cricket score.
It was just two years ago when we had a 5-0 scoreline in this competition's semi-final when Castlewellan beat Adglass Swifts in the 2014-2015 version.
Annalong took only 11 minutes to get the goal trail started and it was Man of the Match, Stephen Burden who opened up a static Newcastle defence with a pin-point cross, which Darren Hylands swept home on the half volley to open the flood gates.
Newcastle never recovered from this and were looking leg weary and downtrodden, so it was no surprise when Burden went from supplier to scorer on 22 minutes from a through ball from his front partner, Ryan McMurray and the game really was over now a quarter of the way through.
With 29 minutes on the clock Newcastle were deeper in the mire. Two different players were involved in a sweeping move with Mark Newell making it look easy for Johnny McCulla to score with a neat header.
Newcastle did battle for a 10 minute period with Donal Acton one of the few players to emerge with any credit for the Seasiders, working hard to try and claw them back into the game, but he was fighting a lone battle seemingly missing his running partner Gribben.
With no response coming from a forlorn-looking Newcastle side, Annalong put the tie to bed well and truly with a fourth goal four minutes before the half time whistle. It was the move of the match between Burden and McMurray and ended with the latter firing home a tremendous strike after a wonder pass from Stephen Burden.
The second half, as expected, did not live up to the first and in fact is was as poor as the first half was good.
Passes went astray, a series of lost balls as throw-ins were the order of the day, with Newcastle visibly looking for some crumb of comfort. Substitute Moore briefly lit up the deepening gloom on a dull Saturday afternoon on a perfect Bear Park pitch.
Annalong were not finished yet and on 62 minutes substitute Andrew McAllister went rushing through, only to be upended by the Newcastle goalkeeper for the referee to point to the spot.
Annalong player-manager Alan Henning stoked home the penalty with ease to complete an awful day for Newcastle, who only had one real effort all afternoon when very late on Chris Rice hit the post with a snapshot.
Almost a washout
Friday night's monsoon conditions made sure that it was almost a complete washout, with only one league game surviving the weather at Ardglass.
In Division 1 the home side was far too strong for the visiting Dromara II outfit, going down 4-2 in a shock result by a team bolstered by first team players.
Inter-league team to be reborn
The Newcastle League Committee is exploring the possibility of reforming an Inter-league representative team after almost 25 years.
The Mourne League side were early winners of the Golden Cow Trophy in the 70/80s and in later years won and retained the Boys' Brigade Shield from a series of games with the Old Boys' League.
Early soundings of such a return have been good with Annalong manager Alan Henning the favourite for the manager's job. Watch this space for more on the subject.
Purdy Cup semi-finals draw
The draw for the semi-finals of the Purdy Cup has been made and resulted as follows.
Castlewellan II v Kirkistown
Carryduff Ath v Ardglass Swifts
First out of the hat has home advantage and as yet no date has been set for the ties.
Bignian Cup semi-finals draw
The draw for the Bignian Cup semi-finals is as follows, with no dates set and first out of the hat at home.
Dromara III v Celtic Bhoys II
Carryduff C II v Newcastle III
Harry Clarke Cup final in doubt
The venue and date of the Harry Clarke Cup, which was set for Easter Monday at Drumaness, has been put on hold due to a fun fair being scheduled for the outer car park at Meadowvale.
Other options are being explored and we will know more information at a later date.


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