Newry on course for treble
Tuesday, 8 April 2014
NEWRY Olympic continue to pull out all the stops with another win in this incredible season. Having already bagged the Linden cup on New Years Day and the league in February, Newry march on in their pursuit of a history making cup treble. There has been little to shout about in the way of success in recent years for the Newry men which was shown when they won the Linden Cup for the first time in 30 years, writes Jeremy Greer.
However, this season has brought about a real turn in fortunes as they have fought and ground out win after win which has lead to this point, where they are on the verge of a unprecedented treble.
Newry travelled to Portadown in the Irish Hockey Trophy on Tuesday evening for their semi final match. The sides had already met on three separate occasions so far this season, Newry coming out on top in two and drawing the other. The Belfast road men knew that it was going to be a unbelievably tough game to win to reach the final, as it turned out to be.
The game had everything, goals, cards, passion and skill which was brilliant for the spectators in attendance. Newry started like a house on fire with Portadown unable to get out of their own half in the opening exchanges defending a number of Newry short corners well. The home side tried to play themselves into the game and the possession evened out as the half wore on, however when Portadown thought they were getting back in it John Taylor fired home a low flick from a well worked short corner to give Newry a one goal lead. Both teams were giving it their all showing they were determined to make the final, fighting for every inch they could gain. Then came a mad few minutes when both sides were reduced to ten men as the umpires flashed harsh green and yellow cards to dampen the game just before half-time.
The game wasn't dull for long and in the second half Portadown came right after Newry but they were unable to find a break through as the away side defended solidly. Still the teams fought with passion and determination but as Portadown pushed forward they started to leave gaps, Newry duly exploited this to go two up as golden oldie Richard Nummy slotted home after some good work from Kyle McCombe. A passing move which would not look out of place in the Premier League brought Newry so close to a third when their midfield and forward line linked up with a number of one twos to shred the Portadown defence but the final pass from McKnight to Nummy was slightly over hit and the chance went begging with an open goal at their mercy. David Andrews was next to half a great chance when he collected a cross from the left, dropped his shoulder to wrong foot the keeper but as he played the ball towards the net he it clipped the keepers heel and somehow stayed out.
When people were starting to think the game was over with only five minutes left on the clock, Portadown surged forward and got one back with a great reverse finish from the top of the D. With only seconds left in the game Portadown showed how much they wanted this win as they drove forward again and bundled the ball over the line with the last hit of the game to force extra time and send the team and fans into raptures.
Both teams had given it their all during the game and extra time was probably the last thing either wanted. With the silver goal rule in place Both teams pushed for the winner and Portadown looked more likely in the first period of extra time as they rattled the inside of the post after a great passing move then forced a short corner right on the half time whistle but could not finish. In the second period it was Newry's turn to press and with three minutes gone of the five Colin McKnight popped up on the right hand side of the D and as he drove across he set himself up for a reverse which flew past the helpless keeper and rattled into the net to send the visiting fans into hysterics.
This time Newry did hold out and scrambled of the line and into the cup final where they will play Bandon Hockey Club from Cork. Newry now have one final game this season to really finish off in style. They play their cup final on Saturday (April 12) at 5pm in Belfield, Dublin. A spectators bus will be leaving from the club on the day and for anyone wishing to watch the Final can contact Jeremy Greer on 07706227391.
NEWRY OLYMPIC: R Hanlon, J Greer, N McKnight, D England, N Davenport, C McKnight, J Taylor, C Henning, R Irwin, R Nummy, K McCombe, A Gilmer, D Andrews, A Foster and J Glass.
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