Dollingstown won the McComb’s Coach Travel Intermediate Cup Final for the first time in their history after scoring two fine second-half goals in their home county.
The Co Armagh outfit lifted the trophy after defeating north Belfast side Newington 2-0 at Annagh United’s ground in Portadown on Thursday evening. The goals came courtesy of Gary Liggett and Johnny Kernaghan.
Dollingstown and Newington both play in the NIFL Premier Intermediate League and before Covid lockdown and the subsequent league shutdown they were sitting third and fifth in the league respectively.
The teams’ league form pointed to a tight encounter and that’s how it largely panned out in the first half, however Dollingstown turned the screw towards the end of the first half and in the second period, with their impressive front three causing all sorts of problems for the Newington back line, and they deservedly won the match.
Newington started on the front foot and created the first clearcut opportunity when captain Richard Gowdy shot over the top from eight yards.
Number nine Liggett had the first chance for Dollingstown. His low shot from 30 yards was easily collected by Newington keeper Marc Maybin, however.
Maybin had to react quickly when a tackle on Dollingstown’s Kernaghan inside the area sent the ball spinning towards the net and the keeper pushed it to safety.
After that it was Dollingstown’s turn to push forward. On 22 minutes Kernaghan had a snapshot from distance which was held by Maybin and, just after the water break, Liggett’s left-foot drive narrowly drifted past the post before Kernaghan had an effort from distance which was off target.
Liggett produced a fine strike from distance which Maybin did well to hold and then the lively Keith Johnston latched on to a loose back pass and chipped the ball over the advancing Maybin, however Newington defender Aodhfionn Casey managed to clear the ball off the line.
Stephen Uprichard’s side continued to press and Kernaghan was just off target with a crisp strike, while Liggett scuffed a shot when well placed inside the area.
The opening goal of the game came in the 47th minute following a slick move. Johnston won the ball on the half-way line, played a one-two with Kernaghan and then delivered a lovely cross from the right which was met by Liggett, rising above the Newington defence and keeper, and his header from eight yards hit the back of the net.
Both sides huffed and puffed before Newington almost equalised on 64 minutes when substitute Michael Gallagher headed against the post after getting on the end of a perfectly flighted corner from left back Anthony McGonnell.
A rapid counter-attack on 71 minutes led to Dollingstown’s second. Johnston broke clear down the left and whipped in a cross for Kernaghan who hammered the ball into the bottom corner. It was a classy finish.
Two minutes later Maybin made another good stop, this time from a Kernaghan snapshot.
Newington boss Conor Crossan made several substitutions in a bid to get back into it and within minutes striker Ethan Devine shot over the top.
In the closing stages Dollingstown almost added a third when Kernaghan whipped a free-kick just wide of the post, while down the other end substitute Daniel White’s flicked header was cleared away by the Dollingstown defence.
Dollingstown: Steven Maguire, Sean Toman, Nathan McConnell, Patrick Mooney, Aaron Rogers, Patrick Mooney, Aaron Rogers, Aaron Moffettt (captain), Stephen Jones, David McCullough, Gary Liggett, Keith Johnston, Johnny Kernaghan. Substitutes: Richard Thompson, Adam Patterson, Elliott Rea, Jake Redpath, Glenn Hand.
Newington: Marc Maybin, Sean O’Reilly, Anthony McGonnell, Aodhfionn Casey, Kevin Bradley, Richard Gowdy (captain), Tiarnan Mulvenna, Neil Cummings, Ethan Devine, Patrick Downey, Chris McFall. Substitutes: Patrick Pierce, Daniel White, Padraig Scollay, Gerard Dempsey, Michael Gallagher.