Ricky is the lionheart for Downpatrick in cup thriller

Ricky is the lionheart for Downpatrick in cup thriller

29 November 2017

DOWNPATRICK cooked up a perfect second half storm to blow Shankill off course and book their place in the Appetise Border Cup final.

Downpatrick will now face the winners of tonight’s second semi-final between Crumlin Star and Larne Tech Old Boys at Seaview on Wednesday, December 27.

As expected, Shankill did not make things easy for Downpatrick and it took two goals in a mazy four-minute spell after the break from Ricky Kerr to settle this tense encounter that never reached any great heights. 

Shankill settled first and their early ball into Kyle Dillon and John Mahoney gave Downpatrick plenty to think about with the latter continually getting in behind the back four.

However, the first opening fell to Downpatrick after just two minutes when Kerr threaded  a pass into the path of Philly Traynor, but he was denied by a last-gasp tackle on the edge of the six yard box from Aaron Robinson.

Luke Briers then created an opening for Mahoney, but with only Kieran Gordon to beat on the edge of his box, he squirmed his shot wide of the target with Dillon unable to apply a finishing touch with the goal at his mercy.  

It was pretty uninspiring stuff at this stage with an awful lot of misplaced passes the order of the day. Shankill continued to hold sway with Mahoney and Jonathan Dallas both getting in shots. 

However, Shankill made the breakthrough in the 23rd minute when Dillon blasted home at the second attempt after Downpatrick failed to deal with a corner delivered into the near post.

Downpatrick tried to retaliate and Conan Russell, a former Downpatrick ‘keeper, saved from Tony McIlhone after he got on the end of a Barry Treacy cross.

A moment of controversy raged in the 31st minute when Mahoney seemed to beat Downpatrick’s offside trap before being upended by Gordon in the box for a clear cut penalty. 

Fortunately, for Downpatrick, the linesman waited until the Shankill player touched the ball before flagging for offside — a decision that didn’t go down too well with the Belfast side’s vociferous supporters.

Downpatrick took full advantage and won a free kick just inside the Shankill half from Gordon’s kick-out. Neil Teggart caressed the ball into the box and McIlhone out-jumped everyone in to head in the equaliser.

McIlhone had another effort deflected for a corner as did Andy Baggley with Downpatrick now cooking on full gas at the end of the first half.

A few subtle tactical changes saw Downpatrick dominate the second half from the word go, but Robbie Morris went close to giving Shankill the lead after he headed a Dallas corner narrowly wide.

With 50 minutes gone Traynor headed a Christian Holland corner wide before the Downpatrick skipper set-up Connor McCarron, who had just replaced the injured McIlhone, but the big striker was unable to take advantage.

Jack McLaughlin then gave the ball away just outside his own penalty area, but Dallas’ parting shot hit the base of the upright and rebounded out to Dillon — his shot was saved by Gordon as Downpatrick breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Down at the other end Russell saved from Treacy before Downpatrick hit the jackpot with two goals in four minutes.

The first came in the 721st minute. Kerr met a Treacy corner with his head, but his effort was cleared off the line. The ball went straight back to Kerr and he promptly buried it in the back of the net.

Four minutes later Treacy whipped in yet another tantalising free kick and Kerr met it full on to head Downpatrick into a 3-1 lead with 15 minutes remaining and time to close up shop.

Jarlath Branagan, who was more than impressive in a cameo role after replacing McLaughlin, nearly got on the score sheet with a powerful header after he connected with a Holland cross as Downpatrick eased over the winning line with a bit to spare.

Downpatrick FC: K Gordon, A McGarry, C Holland, N Teggart, S Douglas, R Kerr, B Treacy, A Baggley, T McIlhone, P Traynor, J McLaughlin. Subs: C McCarron, J Branagan, C McKenna.

Shankill United: C Russell, D Glover, R Morris, A Robinson, S Moore, P Gordon, J Dallas, J Mahoney, L Briers, K Dillon, S Conlin. Subs: C Black, R McMinn, G Foster.

Downpatrick 3

Shankill United 1

BORDER CUP SEMI-FINAL