Valley Rangers 0
Banbridge turned blue on Friday (24 May) evening after Ally Wilson guided his Rangers side to a Marshall Cup win at Crystal Park.
Early goals from midfielders Scott Ward and Jordan Hayes were enough to secure a 2-0 win over Valley Rangers.
The Marshall Cup is the Mid Ulster Football League’s biggest competition with almost 70 Intermediate and Junior sides competing over the course of the season.
Banbridge Rangers have got to the semi-final stage five years in a row but only made it to the showpiece final on Friday night for the first time.
Manager Ally Wilson had a full squad to choose from and had a few tough choices but the tactics and selection went to plan against a Valley Rangers side, who had beaten Banbridge Rangers home and away in the league this year.
Goalkeeper Bryan McMullan was a doubt heading into the final after twisting his knee the week before against Valley and they were out to test him early. A low driven shot from Patterson saw McMullan dive to his bottom right and came through unscathed.
Less than 10 minutes later McMullan made a stunning save from Valley Rangers forward Lee Newell who went clear on goal in a swift counter attack but was denied by the onrushing Gers keeper who managed to clock up his 17th clean sheet of the season on Friday evening.
Ninety seconds later Banbridge Rangers were celebrating after Scott Ward picked up a pull back from Matthew Holloway on the edge of the box. His resultant shot wasn’t hit cleanly but there was enough accuracy to take it in off the inside of the post to the delight of the Banbridge support.
A similar move from a throw in on the opposite side then saw Banbridge Rangers double their lead just before the half hour mark. This time it was striker Josh Cahoon who ran across the eighteen yard line before teeing up Jordan Hayes for a snapshot which went in off the same post the Ward had found joy with earlier.
Banbridge Rangers were very much in the driving seat at this stage and for the remainder of the match Valley Rangers failed to find a spark that would get past a resolute defence that had Cousins and Baird either side of towering centre halves Chris Chambers and Brian Johnston who were dominant in both penalty areas.
The second half was flat compared to a high tempo first forty five minutes. Valley were conscious of being beaten heavily if they pushed up as Rangers front three of Cahoon, Holloway and Mallen were waiting for gaps to open up to find a third goal.
Banbridge Rangers top scorer Cahoon’s best chance came from a free kick with just over twenty minutes to go but his diving header was well saved.
Ryan Gregg made way for Peter Smyth wity fifteen minutes to go on after being given a role in midfield for the match. Jeff Brady and William Frazer came on late in a match that failed to ignite. But that didn’t bother Banbridge Rangers who got their hands on the Marshall Cup.
Congratulations to Ally Wilson, the coaching staff, players and people in the background who helped deliver for Banbridge Rangers. With the end of season squad all signed up for next season and a few new faces coming in there is plenty of optimism going into the 2019/20 season.