Title race going to the wire.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

THE race for the Rathmourne Trophy is going all the way to the wire after Annalong Swifts, who were thrown a lifeline by Carryduff last Saturday, duly took up the challenge.

They recorded two wins from two games in the past week, thus taking the title race to their final game of the season.

They are away to Celtic Bhoys on Tuesday night and what a game that should be.

On Tuesday of last week the Swifts beat Celtic Bhoys 2-1 at Hillmount in a nip and tuck encounter, which had little football played as both sides were involved in a physical game.

But then it's the points that matter not the performance and all three of those went to Annalong, thanks to goals from Ryan McMurray and Mark Newell.

It was then on to Saturday and the short journey to Bear Park to take on a Tollymore side, who never make it easy for Annalong.

It turned out so, as the Bears made the champions-elect fight all the way for their 2-0 win, with goals from Jonny Gilchrist and Mark Newell.

Annalong have a great week to look forward to as they could end up with a double celebration as they meet Castlewellan II on Friday night in the final of the Harry Clarke Cup at Drumaness.

Seasiders lose out in seven-goal thriller Newcastle Swifts came out second best in their home game with Killough at Donard Park.

They went down by the odd goal, 3-4, despite have dominated long periods of a very entertaining game.

On target for the Seasiders were James Magee with two and Timmy Sexton, while on the scoresheet for the visiting Killough were Ross Armstrong (2), Gareth George and Steven Laverty.

Dundrum are champions In their second season after returning to the Newcastle League, Dundrum have secured promotion to the premiership as champions.

During the week they saw off Ballyvea II 3-1 and then on Saturday played Drumaness Res in a winner takes- all episode, which saw the village boys come out on top, 4-1.

Dundrum started this game determined and in a hurry to get the work done, going ahead early on.

Then they made it two nil before Drumaness pulled one back to make Dundrum's nerves jangle a little.

However, work from Mark Connor in the middle of the park and speedy runs by Paddy Cunningham down the flanges, plus a hat-trick from their big striker, Davy Fitzpatrick meant it was celebrations all the way to the end and for a long period afterwards, with the Jimmy Kelly Cup resting in Dundrum after all those years in the wilderness.

Elsewhere in Division 1 Ballyvea travelled to Strangford and won 2-1.

Goals came from James Maginnes and Andrew Mullan, while Dromara II, despite scoring five goals lost at home 6-5 to Ballynagross in a strange game.

On target for the home side were Jordan Clarke (2), James Clements, Kenny Watterson and Jack Milligan.

Castlewellan II made short work of the chasing Carryduff Athletic side, who were resting players for Monday's Cup final against Kirkistown, winning 6-0.

This made it three defeats in as many games for Carryduff, whose title challenge fizzled out.

On the scoreboard for the Town were Gareth McKibben with three, Conor Doyle, Aidan Doman and Eoin Travers.

Clarke Cup preview Annalong Swifts and Castlewellan II meet in the Harry Clarke Cup final on Friday night at Meadowvale Drumaness with a 6.30pm ko.

This game will no doubt be an entertaining affair, with lots of goals on both sides.

Annalong must start firm favourites to lift the Blue Riband Trophy, with players like Ryan McMurray and Leslie Maybin in their squad.

While it could be down to young Gareth McKibben to light the touch paper for Castlewellan.

The game will be refereed by Anthony Russell from Ballynahinch, assisted by Damian Laverty and James McCreesh, who have all officiated in the two semi-finals.


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