Sports

Comeback kings Barcroft win Fr. Davis Cup final

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Comeback kings Barcroft win Fr. Davis Cup final thumbnailBALLYBOT UNITED

BALLYBOT UNITED produced a magnificent fight back, coming from two goals behind to defeat Killeavy United 4-3 in the Fr. Davies Cup Final at Jennnings Park on Friday evening.

Gary Grant's men were up against it, trailing Killeavy United 3-1 after 34 minutes. Indeed the South Armagh side missed a good chance to go three in front, before two quick fire goals late in the first half from Gary McKeown and Ruairi Cunningham got Ballybot right back into this match.

In the second half both sides spurned a number of opportunities to take the lead before Man of the Match Neil Barr headed home the winner two minutes from time, to deny Killeavy the chance of a league and cup double, and clinch the Cup for Ballybot.

"At 3-1 down I honestly thought we were dead and buried," said a relieved Ballybot manager Gary Grant.

“But to come back the way that we did, and win it in that fashion, I thought we thoroughly deserved it."

And Grant, who took over the reins of the club from predecessor Ronan Casey earlier in the season, said he was delighted to finish the season on a high note, following the disappointment of losing out on the league title and the AOH Cup.

“I thought we were very very unlucky to miss out on the league, and in the AOH Cup we were extremely disappointed to be knocked out by Villa Rovers," he said.

“But the lads have lifted themselves in this cup, beating Cleary Celtic, Newry Celtic and Killeavy - the top sides in the league, along with us, this year.

“It's great to end up with a wee bit of silverware after all the lads' hard work all season. I'm very proud of each and every one of them," he added.

In a frenetic start to this Cup Final, Killeavy's Ciaran Duffy got on the end of an Anthony O'Hare cross to break the deadlock against his former team in the 7th minute, before Ballybot goal machine Neil Barr fired home from close range to restore parity in the 14th minute.

Duffy almost regained the lead for Killeavy soon after, but with just the goalkeeper to beat, the big man's lobbed effort sailed narrowly over the cross bar.

At the other end, midway through the first half, a Niall Cunningham free-kick was met by the unmarked Felix McCourt, but the striker's mistimed header failed to find the target from ten yards out.

In the 31st minute Killeavy nudged themselves back in front through a poacher's finish from David Reel. And a minute later, the Carnbane League champions doubled their lead, when a defensive lapse allowed the strong running Ciaran Duffy in - sliding the ball low into the bottom right corner of the net, to register his second of the evening and put the South Armagh men 3-1 ahead.

Killeavy almost further increased their advantage in the 35th minute when the indefatigable Duffy was a whisker away from bagging a hat-trick, heading a pin-point Anthony O'Hare cross yards over the bar.

This proved to be the wakeup call that Gary Grant's troops needed, as they responded in determined fashion with two goals in the space of a minute, shortly before the break.

Firstly, an opportunist strike from ex-Newry Celtic ace Gary McKeown pulled the score back to 3-2 in the 40th minute, before an outstanding 25 yard right footed drive from Ruairi Cunningham levelled affairs less than 60 seconds later.

Both teams continued to show their attacking intent early in the second half, but some great last ditch defending from Killeavy's Shea Gregory and Ballybot's David Murphy ensured this match remained level.

Killeavy's Anthony O'Hare may have lost a yard or two of pace over the years, but the classy striker still possesses a great first touch and a lethal goal scoring instinct in front of goal. In the 66th minute the Killeavy hit man looked odds on to score, but from 15 yards out his fiercely struck effort was instinctively pushed away by Ballybot 'keeper Jack McShane.

For the next 15 minutes, Ballybot enjoyed their best spell of possession of the match and in the 69th minute marauding full back David Murphy was desperately unlucky not to find the back of the net, when he cracked a shot off the woodwork. While moments later, in what was a rare foray up the pitch, 'Bot centre back Johnny Quinn's header wasn't far away either.

As the clock ticked down, extra time looked on the cards. But with just two minutes of normal time remaining, up popped Neil Barr to win it for Ballybot.

The industrious Gary McKeown, who proved a real handful for the Killeavy defence all evening, made a great surging run down the left channel, before delivering an inch perfect cross to the inrushing Barr, who smashed his header into the roof of the net, to nudge the 'Bot in front for the first time in the game.

Deep into injury time, Killeavy substitute Michael Boyle had a chance to square the game, but his first time effort flew into the grateful arms of Jack McShane, and with that went the last chance of the match.

Seconds later match referee Mark Cregan's final whistle brought, what was the 40th Fr.Davies Cup final to a close with Ballybot emerging as victors for the second time in the club's history and the first since 2013.

BALLYBOT UNITED: Jack McShane, Niall Cunningham, Ruairi Cunningham, David Toal, Mark Toal, Liam Smyth, Joe Barr, Felix McCourt, Neil Barr, Gary McKeown, David Murphy

Subs: Johnny Quinn, Ciaran Quinn, Conor McKeown, Chris Tierney

 

KILLEAVY UNITED: Andrew Woodward, Jason Long, Chris McCormack, Paddy Morgan, Karl O'Hare, Shea Gregory, Barry Magee, David Reel, Ciaran Duffy, Anthony O'Hare, Darran McConville

 

Subs: Michael Boyle, Raymond Teggart, Mark Stanfield, Darren O'Hanlon, Bruno Sousa

Referee: Mark Cregan

Linesmen: Eddie Madigan and Rodney Kimbley

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