Superb Cartwheel lift the Newry AOH Cup

May 23, 2016

Newry AOH Cup Final
Newry Celtic 0  Cartwheel United 2

At 8-51 pm on Friday night Jennings Park erupted in a sea of green and yellow. A dark wet night became a time for celebration. History was made on the green sod of Jennings Park, Cartwheel United who, for over 35 years, reached the pinnacle on Friday night. Just the one piece of silverware to their credit in all those years, the Carnbane 2nd Division in 2002, although they did reach the Final of the Vincent Gilmore Cup last season, but on Friday night it was glory, ecstasy and a night for celebrations, as the underdogs reigned supreme. Newry Celtic’s hopes of lifting the AOH Cup for the 6th time, their last time in 2001, was derailed on a wet night at Jennings Park. This was the night for the underdogs, 1st Division Cartwheel United turned in a scintillating display of football that incorporated everything that this Crossmaglen side produced on the night, strong at the back, magnificent workrate, solid defending, never say die spirit and a cocktail deadly finishing.

Cartwheel went into this final on the back of outstanding results, wins over Premiership’s Cleary Celtic and Killeavy United added to their CV; they were definitely going to have to be taken seriously.

Newry Celtic were the Cup specialists, they have the history, Premierships, Bessbrook Cup, Fr Davies, AOH   Cups, they have won the most of any trophies in local football, and against their 1st Division opponents, they started with a massive advantage.

Celtic started brightly, forcing the Cartwheel back in their heels, and almost going ahead, Stephen Ogle forced to tip a Colm Fegan close range over the bar. The Celtic’s opportunities were mostly falling to Fegan and the Celtic hit man almost made the breakthrough on ten minutes, but was just inches away.

When the Cartwheel started to believe in themselves, things started to change, Jamie Clarke was getting more involved in the game, Ryan Conlon worked hard across the middle, and with their wide men Rico Kelly and Michael Short rampaging down the flanks, the Celtic defence were under pressure, Kyle Reid at the heart of the ‘Wheeler’s back line was settling down as the game progressed, and with the 46 year legs of the experienced Mickey Donnelly sweeping up at the back, the result of this Final was never going to be a forgone conclusion.

Fifteen minutes in, the game took a real turn, Cartwheel who had been putting together some nice one-two movement, winning a lot of the mid-field, and when Michael Short cutting down the left, his ball into the eighteen yard box, slightly behind Jamie Clarke, the Cartwheel golden boy swivel and his left foot picking out bottom corner of the Barry McParland net, 1-0 Cartwheel, the underdogs were ahead.

Minutes later it should have been better for the 1st Division side, Clarke did brilliantly down the left, knocked the cross, it broke loose to Rico Kelly, the winger’s first touch wasn’t good, the second wasn’t that bad, but the finish was scrambled away.

Celtic pressed hard in the second half, they were creating the better chances, Bryan Magill shot wide, Caolan O’Hara forcing a great save from Stephen Ogle, the ‘keeper going full length to push the ball out. Gerard Murphy worked hard; Liam Evans having to depart didn’t really help them either, Shane Burns was getting into positions, but the striker who scored 4 in the Bessbrook Cup final of 2014, it just wasn ‘t happening for him.

Nevertheless, Cartwheel were struggling to get hold of the ball, it was going up to Clarke, Kelly and Callum Kieran, but coming back just as quickly, taking a brilliant block by big Kyle Reid from Kieran McDavitt’s close range shot hitting the target. Cartwheel was defending for the lives at the back. The ‘Wheelers needed someone to get a hold of the leather; a Celtic goal was looking more eminent by the minute. Aidan Dolan, the quiet man of the team, was starting to boss the middle of the field, getting in some great headed clearances, doing the simple things efficiently, but they still needed Ogle to be alert between the sticks.

Time was running out for the Celts, and with just five minutes remaining it happened. Cartwheel were over their poor spell, Jamie Clarke did well out on the left, cut into the eighteen yard box, went down under a tackle the ball broke loose, Callum Kieran caught it beautifully, rifling the ball into the bottom corner of Barry McParland net. Let the celebrations commence.

Cartwheel were on their way, still five minutes remaining, but very few of the large crowd believed the AOH was going where else but up the Camlough road to South Armagh for the first time.

When referee Kieran Cummins sounded the long blow on his whistle, another little fraction of history was created in the Newry AOH Cup. A magnificent night for this small wee South Armagh side, they took on the big boys and handed each of them a lesson.

After the game Brian Naughton [League scrutinizer and assistant Secretary] congratulated the two teams on a superb night of football, commiserated with Newry Celtic and congratulated Cartwheel United on their success.

The officials, Kieran Cummins and his Assistants Mark Cregan and Chris Smith, were then presented with the Cup final mementos by the Newry AOH representative Charlie Casey, who then presented Player of the Final to Aidan Dolan of Cartwheel and the winning AOH Cup to captain of Cartwheel United Stephen Ogle.

Cartwheel United line-out- Stephen Ogle, Jamie Carlisle, Ronan Finnegan, Kyle Reid, Mickey Donnelly, Aidan Dolan, Rico Kelly, Ryan Conlon, Jamie Clarke, Callum Kieran, Michael Short.

Cartwheel United substitutes-  Jason Kieran, Anthony Donaldson, Kieran Hatzer, Thomas McKenna, Eddie English.

Newry Celtic line-out

Barry McParland. Keith Moan, Caolan Moan, Ciaran McDevitt, Lonnie Larkin, Cathal O’Hara. Bryan Magill. Gerard Murphy. Shane Burns. Colm Fegan, Liam Evans.

Newry Celtic Substitutes-  Barry McKevitt, Cathal McGlade. Paddy Daly. Ryan Evans. Kevin McParland

Referee Kieran Cummins, Assistants- Mark Cregan. Chris Smith.