Truly remarkable achievement

May 14, 2018

 ● Carrick Rangers 1 Newry City 3 (Agg 3-6)

When the gates closed on Newry Showgrounds some 6 years ago no one aside of the small dedicated band who went ahead and formed Newry City Athletic Football Club in March 2013 dared to believe that the impossible was possible. On Wednesday night those die hard core who worked tirelessly behind the scenes and on the pitch from a Mid-Ulster Intermediate B start celebrated a truly remarkable achievement a return to Premiership Football.

The man at the coalface of the revival in fortunes was Newry City manager Darren Mullen who said clinching a place in the Premiership after a fourth promotion in five years is “unreal”.”It’s Roy of the Rovers stuff but we’ve worked so hard to get back to this level and we’re worthy of that place.”We’ve put a bit of pride back in Newry football – it was on it’s knees and the gates were locked,” added Mullen.

Newry City held a slender 3-2 home advantage going into the second-leg away to Premiership rivals Carrick Rangers at Taylor’s Avenue. With so much at stake this match had everything, played at a hectic pace, with some feisty challenges, missed chances, controversial moments and of course 4 goals thrown-in the very sizable attendance boosted by a very enthusiastic large travelling support were treated to a great night’s football.

The visiting fans were baying at the ref to show Carrick goalkeeper Harry Doherty a Red as opposed to a yellow card when he felled Mark McCabe on the edge of the box having advanced from his goal but with two covering defenders the call was probably right. On 29 minutes it was the home fans turn to celebrate as they took the lead when Paddy McNally reacted quickest to a blocked Gavin Teggart’s free-kick to prod home the games opening goal.

Having been the villain early on in City supporters eyes referee Evan Boyce was forgiven as he pointed to the spot when McCabe went down in the box following a challenge. Stephen Hughes slotted home the resulting penalty to level the match at 1-1 in the 36th. minute. The home side, just like Newry did in the first leg, missed a few chances and also found Newry keeper Stephen Maguire in sparkling form as he excelled in particular with two excellent saves from Edgar free-kicks. Both teams missed pre-interval chances to go break the 1-1 deadlock prior to the end of the half.

The best early chance of the second half saw City’s Kevin McArdle shoot straight at Doherty but the same player was involved in the lead goal for his team. A very clever dummy by McArdle as he allowed the ball to run across him into the patch of the advancing Mark McCabe who gave Doherty no chance as he sent the supporters wild with a sublime finish to give city the lead some 10 minutes after the re-start. With an overall two goal lead Newry shut-up shop defending superbly and hitting Carrick on the counter attack. Having survived a few hairy moments and seeing Maguire at his brilliant best Newry broke for the all important third goal.

On 74 minutes a full pitch length seweeping move ended with Mark Hughes rattling the home net to spark joyful celebrations both on and off the field amongst the Newry faithful. City held firm for the remainder of the match to record an aggregate 6-3 triumph which goes to show that those who “dare to dream” can often get their wishes which in this case involved a lot of self sacrifice and hard graft from a very dedicated band who would have been dwarfed in the after match celebrations with those thankfully and needfully now on board to toast the club’s success and help with the very daunting but most welcome challenge that the return of Premiership Football to Newry brings.

CARRICK RANGERS: Doherty, Smyth, Edgar, Surgenor, McNally, Chapman, Taggart, Smith, Hassin, Henderson, McNulty. Subs: Glackin for Hassin (70), McAllister for Smith (70). Subs not used: Morrow, Mooney, Gage.

NEWRY CITY: Maguire, Noonan, King, Mooney, Boyle, McCann, Hughes, Carville, McCabe, McArdle, Hughes. Subs: Johnston for McArdle, (81), Mullen for Carville (89), Walker for Hughes (90). Subs not used: McCaul, McMahon.