Let the battle of Shield commence
Tuesday, 22 April 2014
THE all-Carnbane League Mid-Ulster Shield Final at Newry City Showgrounds today (Tuesday) at 11am has the makings of a riveting affair.
The big Shield showdown featured the two best sides in the local league, Windmill Stars and Orchard City and both will be busting a gut to prove they are the city kingpins.
In their only encounter this season Kieran McParland's Stars emerged as winners, thus Clifford Sterritt's high-profile City team will be out to rectify this state of affairs.
And make no mistake they have the players to do it - from the massively experienced goalkeeper Joe Price to the cutting edge striker Decky Carville, the latter a big-occasion player as he proved when he hit a record-breaking four goals in their recent Bessbrook Cup Final victory over Bessbrook United.
Also Orchard have in their ranks Lee Feeney, who has played for the mighty Rangers, former Warrenpoint Town top marksman Keith Johnston, Kevin Henry and Jonathan Black, both with loads of Irish League experience, as well as the likes of ex-Carnbane Footballer of the Year Chris Havern, Peter Markey and hot striker Stephen Daly.
Windmill, on the other hand, while not boasting as many big names, are a determined outfit who have gelled into a so-consistent side and indeed very recently made the semi-final of the prestigious Irish Junior Cup.
Rugged skipper John Joe Maguire has played in the Irish Premier League and they have a host of other players who are capable of turning a match.
Skilful sweeper Ruairi Cunningham oozes confident while Gareth White is a talented playmaker who can also hit the opposing net. Josh McKeown and Patrick Quinn too are remarkable target men while Paddy Farrell, Adrian Barry and Ciaran O'Neill are reliable defenders.
But the Stars will be without several of their top players. Box-to-box man Jimmy Russell is injured as is Conor Shields and its doubtful if either will feature in today's Final while the speedy frontman Ryan "Dixie" Devlin is off on a holiday to Australia.
Windmill assistant manager John O'Hanlon told the Democrat: "We beat them in the league and are confident enough going into the Final.
“But we won't be going in as favourites as they are a very strong, experienced side.
"Still on the day it can go any way. We have a young team and this was to be our transitional year so it's a bonus to be in the Shield Final."
Meanwhile Clifford Sterritt was equally cautious, playing down his teams chances as he said: "We're looking forward to it and the boys are looking forward to it.
“It's the battle of the giants in Newry but Windmill will have the edge going into it.
“They have been the best team in Newry for many a year while we're the new boys on the scene and in
fact they have already beaten us this season. Just look at their record in the
Junior Cup this year - it's absolutely fantastic."
The Orchard boss continued: "We're taking one game at a time. The league is out of our hands at present but the cup final is a different story and it's all on the day and whether the boys want it or not. I can only prepare them so much and when they walk over that white line it's up to them."
So let the battle of Newry commence and may the best team win.
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