Champagne and silverware for Seasiders

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Champagne and silverware for Seasiders thumbnailTHE Warrenpoint Town players and management celebrate winning the NIFL Championship after Saturday's game with Dergview at Milltown.

WARRENPOINT Town did their bit on the pitch to ensure the party at Milltown kicked off in style with a convincing win over Dergview.

Warrenpoint Town ...4
Dergview ...1

In truth, Saturday's result or performance was not really what mattered but it was wonderful to see the team that has worked so hard, play with smiles and deliver an entertaining display, especially in the last few minutes.

Warrenpoint's number-one fan Daniel Brannigan led Warrenpoint Town captain Liam Bagnall and the team out onto the pitch and it was a lovely gesture by the club and set the tone that Saturday wasn't all about results.

“It just showed that we do think about everybody at the football club and it is just not about everyone out on the pitch," said manager Matthew Tipton. He was pleased with Saturday's win, enjoyed the big breakfast in the morning and the celebrations throughout the day and afternoon but reiterated that he has much work to do ahead of the Premiership after the summer.

“Whilst we won the League three weeks ago we had been all waiting on the day we could get our hands on the trophy and lift it. But that's the lid on it now and the hard work starts for the Premiership," said Tipton.

“The aim at the beginning of the season was to win the league and lift the trophy and that target has been achieved and I am delighted with that but now the hard work starts to prepare of next season."

The Seasiders took the lead with nine minutes gone, John McGuigan took advantage of a poor attempted clearance from Dergview keeper Stephen McCusker and from all of 40-yards he confidently stroked home his 18th goal of the season. He almost shrugged off his audacity to have a pop and it was a cracking goal and a fitting gift to the Milltown faithful.

Conor McMenamin came close to doubling Warrenpoint's lead as with his back to goal he somehow hooked his shot and it zipped past the post with keeper McCusker scrambling towards the top corner.

Two minutes later Dergview had their first real chance when Ryan Campbell was afforded a free-header but Johnny Parr made his save look easy.

But with 58 minutes gone, Parr was picking the ball out of the net as the same man Campbell, again, was given too much space and he drilled low into the net as he attempted put a dampener on Warrenpoint's party.

But only for the briefest of moments as on the hour Ruairi Croskery tapped home when McGuigan was gifted another miss-kick from the keeper but this time squared to the striker and he made no mistake.

The party was back in full swing and even the driving rain couldn't dampen the spirits when the hard working Aaron Traynor made a bustling run down the right wing, and hugging the by-line he threaded a pass to Josh Lynch who displayed moments of magic as he weaved right past a defender, left past another defender before striking beautifully with his left foot into his bottom right corner of the net. It was a stunning goal as the carnival atmosphere got well underway.

Dergview, to their credit, didn't lie down and Gary Falconer tested Parr at the near post and Campbell came close to grabbing another. Curtis Dempster, Lorcan Forde and Anto Reilly came off the bench with goal-scorers Croskery and Lynch making way.

And they made an impact as with 90 minutes gone. McGuigan whipped in a corner and young Abbey CBS student Forde nodded down to Reilly who knocked into the net.

Cheers from the crowd met the final whistle, local DJ Kevin McAllister provided the tunes and after a few speeches the players were presented with their medals before the champagne was in full flow for the Championship winners.

Warrenpoint wrap up their season with the relatively short trip to Loughgall on Saturday (April 29) at 3pm and the Point manager wants a strong finish before speaking to his team about who may be leaving and who could be joining.

“It is an opportunity to finish with three points as the last thing you want is to lose and then have to wait three months to rectify it. We will be looking for a strong performance like we have every week this season," said Tipton.

“Obviously I know in my own mind [players to come in and go out] but I will be sitting down with the players next week after the Loughgall game and we will have a discussion from there.

“There might be players who we want to stay and they want to leave and things like that but we will get the season finished first."

Before the presentations Warrenpoint Town club chairman Johnny Bird spoke and thanked those he said were in the background.

“This time last year we went down and felt down but these boys lifted us and were committed to putting us back to where we belonged and those people are Barry Gray, Connaire McGreevy, Mickey Gray, Mickey McGivern and Brian Reade and I'd like you all to give them a round of applause," said Bird.

To win the Championship in the manner they did, speaks volumes about Warrenpoint Town.

Next season they'll be happy to finish in mid-table obscurity but they know that is a tough ask.

The first time Warrenpoint were promoted the team was made up of almost all local players. Several players have moved on since and former manager Barry Gray and current boss Tipton have now assembled a strong squad.

It is great for football in the area to have a team in the Premiership next season.

Led by Glenn man Liam Bagnall and backboned by Rostrevor keeper Jonathan Parr, Newry's Stephen Moan, Forkhill's Darren King and young Abbey student Lorcan Forde, it is a wonderful message that local footballers can make it to the top with their home club.

Newry's Mark Haughey will be hoping results go his way when Linfield take on Cliftonville at Solitude on Saturday as the Blues push for the Irish Premiership title, although former Point star Daniel Hughes will have something to say about that.

WARRENPOINT TOWN: Johnny Parr, Dermot McVeigh, John McGuigan, Aaron Traynor (Lorcan Forde 75'), Conor McMenamin, Josh Lynch (Anto Reilly 83'), Jordan Dane, Liam Bagnall, Stephen Moan, Liam McKenna, Ruairi Croskery (Curtis Dempster 78'). Subs not used: Stephen Maguire, Philly Donnelly.

DERGVIEW: Stephen McCusker, Aaron Walsh, Gary Falconer, Thomas Wray, Shane Foster, Jude Ballard (James Harper 85'), Blaine Burns, Nathan Cashel, Dywane McManus, Richard Lecky (Alan Buchanan 85'), Ryan Campbell. Subs not used: Aaron Arkinson, Philip Wallace, Richard Clarke.


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