Bobby Dalzell Mourne derby

Bobby Dalzell Mourne derby

29 November 2017

THE battle of the Mournes takes place at Bignian Park on Friday night when Ballyvea take on neighbours Mourne Rovers in the first of the Crebisol Bobby Dalzell Cup semi-finals.

Both sides have enjoyed league success in recent years, but both have unfinished business in the Newcastle League’s Christmas showpiece.

Ballyvea’s last appearance in the final was in 2015 when they faced Annalong as red hot favourites, but fell to a disappointing 3-1 defeat on a dreadful day for football.  

Mourne Rovers, on the other hand, lost the 2014 final 5-0 to an a trail-blazing Castlewellan side who practically owned the cup in those days. 

There is little to separate the sides in terms of form this season, but Rovers trail their deadly rivals by two points in the table. Ballyvea have won all six games played and are sitting pretty at the top of the Premier Division. 

They are still involved in the Junior Shield and entertain Beann Mhadaghain on Saturday, December 9, in the fourth round. 

Mourne Rovers have played a game more than Ballyvea, but have been beaten by Castlewellan Forest and drawn with Killough — they were not at full strength for either of those two games. Rovers are out of the Junior Shield, falling 2-1 away to Portavogie Rangers in the third round.

Ballyvea saw off Tollymore United and Castlewellan Forest 3-1 to reach the last four whereas Mourne Rovers accounted for Strangford (4-2) and Dundrum United (5-1).

Friday night’s showdown should be a cracker as the combatants know one and other’s game inside out and as both sides had a free Saturday last weekend due to their games being off due to water-logged pitches, they each should have full squads to pick from.  

Ballyvea will once again to look to Mark Burden, Mark McConnell and Philip Dodds for goals with Rovers relying on Michael Ireland, Connaire Harrison and Sean Dornan, if available, to find the net.

Attack is expected to be the order of the day from both sides and a tactical, defensive game is definitely not on the cards. Match referee will be Damian Laverty with Michael McKenna and Anthony Russell as his assistants.

The second semi-final between Celtic Bhoys and Ballynahinch Olympic Town will take place next Wednesday night, again at Bignian Park. Michael McKenna will referee this one with Russell and Laverty as assistants.

A reminder that the Newcastle League will break on December 23, with no fixtures on this date, returning with a full programme on December 30. The next League committee meeting will take place on Thursday, January 4, at 8pm in the Burrendale Hotel, Newcastle.

Supporters intending to travel to the Bobby Dalzell Cup semi-finals should note that the games have a 7.45pm kick-off, and entrance is £3 for adults and £1 concessions.

The final will again take place on Boxing Day at Meadowvale, Drumaness, with a 1.30pm kick-off.

Meanwhile, Downpatrick FC will know tonight who their Appetise Border Cup final opponents will be when Larne Tech Old Boys face Crumlin Star at Seaview in the second semi-final.

Downpatrick beat Shankill United 3-1 last Wednesday night at Seaview to book their place in the Christmas showdown. Shankill took the lead midway through the first half, but a Tony McIlhone header brought the sides level before the interval.

Downpatrick upped the ante after the break and two goals from Ricky Kerr in a magical four-minute spell sent the county town through to their third Border final in four years.    

A whacking 8-1 away win at Malachians on Saturday has certainly bolstered Downpatrick’s confidence and they should now start to reap the dividends of having a full squad available.