Gallery for Tate after epic strike

Gallery for Tate after epic strike

9 May 2018

RAYMOND Tate was the unlikely goalscoring hero when Ballynahinch Young Men secured the Newcastle League Division 2 title after less than 12 months in existence.

The agile custodian took matters into his own hands in the 68th minute with the sides locked at 2-2 and a large, expectant crowd at a sun-kissed Assumption Grammar School, praying for a Young Men winner.

Marty Sloan’s side certainly did not make things easy for their neighbours and at one stage led 2-1 after goals from Brett Ritchie and Conor Barlow.

Aaron McCaffrey had made it 1-1 before Barlow netted in the first 30 seconds of the second half and the champagne was put back on ice.

The Young Men piled on the pressure and were rewarded in the 58th minute when Adam McDowell pounced to make it 2-2. Reavey and the woodwork conspired to deny the Young Men until Tate lent a helping hand.

He launched a massive clearance from just inside his own box in the general direction of target man McDowell.

However, the ball sailed over the big striker’s head, took an almighty bounce on the 3G pitch and with Reavey in no man’s land, flew into the top corner of the net.

The Young Men’s devoted supporters had an anxious wait before Arleen Campbell blew the final whistle to signal a pitch invasion and start the celebrations.

Victory was no more than Ballynahinch Young men deserved. Their journey to the divisional crown has been fraught with controversy with their home pitch at Langley Road practically unplayable from the start of the season.

This meant they had to live a nomadic existence — just as Olympic have had to contend with for several seasons now — playing ‘home’ games in Kilmore, Killyleagh and Assumption.

It is a credit to them that they were beaten only once all season — 3-2 by Kilmore at Cedar playing fields in November. 

They have the best defensive record in Division 2 and only Dromara Village thirds have scored more goals. 

None of this was lost on joint manager Charlie Crawford. “Johnny Dickson and I only took over just after Christmas and we couldn’t have asked for anything more from the players,” Charlie said afterwards.

“They did all the hard work and can now celebrate. I’d much rather still be playing as I think I’m losing my voice with all the shouting.”

Ballynahinch Young Men went into the game knowing that nothing less than a win would do as Dromara Village thirds were breathing down their necks.     

Lee Price and the combative Jason Croskery had shots off target before Olympic caught the Young Men short at the back and Ritchie volleyed in a real bobby dazzler.

The Young Men hadn’t long to wait for an equaliser and two minutes later Aaron McCaffrey blocked an attempted clearance from Reavey and the ball ended up in the net when it really could have gone anywhere.

The Young Men continued to pile forward, but Brendan Greaves and Reavey dovetailed perfectly at the back to send the sides in level at the break.

Olympic stole a march on their rivals immediately after the restart when Barlow fired across Tate at the second attempt to make it 2-1 and silence the animated Young Men supporters.

Undaunted, the Young Men bombarded the Olympic defence with everything they could muster.

Graham, McDowell and Johnston all had efforts that found the woodwork before McDowell made it 2-2 after a bit of a scramble.

Reavey and a goal line clearance from Michael Savage denied the Young Men before Tate entered stage right.

His huge clearance was perfectly judged and given that Reavey had come well off his line, the ball was always destined for the net and seal a memorable victory.    

Ballynahinch Olympic III: P Reavey, M McGoran, B Greaves, C Melville, A Orme, M Savage, G Campbell, O Gilgunn, L O’Hare, B Ritchie, C Barlow. Subs: D Blackwood, M Hughes.

Ballynahinch Young Men: R Tate, H Wilson, S Cheevers, M Graham, R Annett, S Annett, R Johnston, J Croskery, A McDowell, A McCaffrey, L Price. Subs: A Dickson, R Shilliday, M Lovell.


Ballynahinch YM 3

Ballynahinch Olympic III 2