Newry sink Ports to land Linden Cup
Tuesday, 7 January 2014
NEWRY Olympic won their first major hockey title in over 20 years when they clinched the Linden Cup on New Years Day with a nerve-wrecking 3-2 victory over Portadown.
This game, played in Deramore Park, Belfast, was the Newry side's biggest since the mid 90s.
After nothing short of a dismal first ten minutes from Newry, Portadown were a seemingly unbeatable side. Putting one away in the 14th minute, Adam Stevenson was planning to put the game to bed early. The Newry side had another heart-stopping moment, as an opposing short corner, seen Portadown come close, only to be denied by Newry keeper Robin Hanlon.
Robbie Taylor's half-time grilling obviously wasn't taken lightly, and winning a short corner in the first minute of the second half, Newry were soon to be level, with John Taylor finishing in style. There was action at both ends of the pitch, before Andy Gilmer stepped up to the mark, putting Newry 2-1 up, in the 49th minute.
Newry doubled their lead just a minute later, Richard Nummy made his mark on the game, with a finish that any professional would be proud of. A five-yard slide left Nummy in a perfect position to strike the ball into the roof of the net, and essentially secure the game for Olympic.
Portadown aren't a team to be underestimated at any stage of the game, and in the 54th minute, when Newry gave away a short corner, Gareth Titler was quick to remind them of that, scoring their second of the match.
Although the opening scorer, Adam Stevenson, was shown to his dugout, Newry defender, Neil Liggett received the same treatment from umpire, Ian Hamilton, leaving both teams a man down.
It was far from an easy watch for Robbie Taylor, and manager, Alan McGaffin, on the sideline, as Newry gave away another short corner minutes later.
With silverware in sight however, the cat-like reflexes of Robin Hanlon were simply not to be overshadowed, and at full stretch, his right hand stopped a well-struck ball, making a stunning save.
Jeremy Greer's late yellow card left Newry a player short of the opposition, but Newry held firm for a memorable Cup victory.
Olympic captain Colin Henning was delighted with the win and proud to lift the cup.
“It's unreal," said Henning.
“It's great to bring it back to the cup back to the Club after so long, and now we can concentrate on the league."
"After Portadown came out of the traps, it definitely devastated us, but we go 1-0 down so often in games.
"After a roasting from Robbie at half-time, the boys gathered themselves up.
"We dug deep, and were able to get back into the game quick enough, then the other two goals seem to come quickly.
And a content manager Robbie Taylor believes that there is more to come from his Newry men
“The boys done well to comeback, and at 3-1 up, I really think we should have been putting the game to bed then," said Taylor.
"It's very, very important to the club for the First 11 to bring success, and for Newry, bringing the Linden Cup back after so long, is massive.
"Now we've got this Cup Final out of the way, we can really focus on the League, and that's the way into the Premier League."
NEWRY OLYMPIC: Robin Hanlon , Neil Liggett, Keith McWilliams, David England, Robert Irwin, Colin Henning, Richard Nummy, Jeremy Greer, John Taylor and Andrew Gilmer. Subs: Colin McKnight, Nigel Davenport, David Andrew, Kyle McComb and Justin Glass.
Manager: Alan McGaffin Coach: Robbie Taylor Assistant Coach: William Moffett.
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