This year’s NIBFA Under-16 National League Cup Final was decided on penalties – with Maiden City coming out on top.
Few could have predicted that defender Alfie Gale would become a cult hero for the team from Derry-Londonderry as he fired home the winning penalty. Gale was part of a defence that had to soak up significant pressure throughout the game.
Their Belfast opponents, Celtic Boys, started strongly in the decider at Antrim’s Allen Park.
In the 12th minute Ciaran McDonnell fired in a decent effort which drifted wide, while Maiden City’s Ben Arnold drilled a free-kick off target.
Then Celtic Boys’ Oisin Casey came close with a header before Maiden City keeper Zach Boyle produced a superb save with his feet.
In a lively contest both sides controlled parts of the game but the lack of a cutting edge in the final third meant clearcut chances were at a premium, however the deadlock was broken when Ciaran Brolly pounced on a misplaced kick from the Celtic Boys keeper and he neatly tucked it away to give his team the lead.
Craig Lynch’s City side almost grabbed a second through Fionn Duffy. He conjured up a decent effort in the 57th minute but failed to hit the back of the net.
Fionn Mulhern netted the leveller for Celtic Boys as they piled on the pressure in the closing stages.
Ciaran McDonnell thought he had edged the Hoops in front late on, however his effort was ruled offside.
Celtic Boys, the league champions, had the better of the chances during the extra 20 minutes but neither side could seal the victory in open play, so it went to penalties.
The Hoops slotted in five spot kicks in the shootout, however six converted penalties earned Maiden City a hard fought but sporting victory and the coveted Subway trophy.
Jack Curran of Maiden City was the player of the match, while a large Maiden City support enjoyed the trophy success.