Former Northern Ireland international Ivan Sproule rolled back the years as he helped Dergview Reserves to taste fonaCAB Craig Stanfield Junior Cup glory this afternoon.
The 42-year-old winger scored twice as the Fermanagh and Western Division One side defeated Harryville Homers 4-1 in the Junior Cup final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
Jonny Lafferty also scored for the team from Castlederg, who lifted the trophy for the first time in their history, while youngster Ethan Nethery put the icing on the cake in added time with a superb strike.
Dergview arrived in Belfast with a squad featuring a blend of youth and experience. Apart from Sproule, they had Colin Robinson (39) and Lafferty (36) in the starting eleven along with Nethery (17), who was part of the Integrated College Dungannon side who won the Schools’ Cup at the National Stadium back in March.
And also in the squad for the Co Tyrone team were Joel Gibson and Kevin McGuigan, both aged 16.
Harryville Homers, who operate in Division One of the Ballymena Saturday Morning League, won the trophy in three successive seasons from 2014 to 2016, however they were second best against the team coached by player-manager Andrew Sproule, Ivan’s brother, along with Gareth Gibson and Malcolm Buchanan.
Harryville started brightly in front of 1060 spectators. Sam Armstrong fired in a corner which was met by Homers captain Ryan Stewart, however his header hit Dergview’s Joseph Breslin and went out for another corner.
On 13 minutes Armstrong was involved again when he robbed a Dergview defender and clipped the ball into the area where the Co Antrim side’s Lewis Mearns just failed to connect with it.
Dergview’s Warner Ballantyne found Lafferty with a clever pass and his dangerous cross was cleared by the Harryville defence.
A minute later Dergview had the ball in the net. In the 28th minute Ivan Sproule broke free down the left and headed towards goal before opening the scoring with a neat finish from a tight angle.
However, Harryville struck back straight from the restart. A Jason Stewart cross to the back post evaded Dergview keeper Ryan Brolly and was headed back across goal by Alan Rainey - and Randal Reid was on hand to chest it home from close range.
Breslin’s looping volley from nine yards went over the top before Harryville attacker Justin Rowe’s shot cleared the bar and Armstrong just failed to connect with a diagonal ball from Reid.
Lafferty put the Tyrone men back in front on 42 minutes. Nethery’s cross took a deflection as it headed towards the back post where Sproule stepped back and let the ball drop to Lafferty whose sweetly struck volley from 15 yards out found the bottom corner. It was a lovely strike.
Minutes later Sproule was up to his tricks again down the flank. He cut the ball back for Nethery but his snapshot was superbly pushed out by Homers keeper Sean Ward.
At the start of the second half Sproule jinked his way past a couple of defenders before unleashing a shot which clipped off a defender’s back as it flew over the bar.
However, he was on the scoresheet again soon after. A clearance from Homers keeper Ward at the edge of the penalty area struck Nethery and rebounded into the path of Sproule and he brought it under control before tucking it home from six yards.
Both sides then huffed and puffed until the 70th minute when Harryville’s Armstrong let fly from the edge of the area. His effort fizzed past the upright.
Dergview defended resolutely as the Homers went in search of a second goal. Rainey’s driven cross was coolly chested down by man of the match Robinson in the six-yard box and cleared.
In added time substitute Ciaran O’Loughlin laid the ball off to Nethery inside the area and he skipped past a defender before rifling the ball into the net. It was an excellent finish and deservedly secured the trophy for Dergview Reserves.
Dergview Reserves: Ryan Brolly, Andrew Sproule, Colin Robinson, Jamie McDonald, Ethan Nethery, Ashley Lowry, Jonathan Lafferty, Joseph Breslin, Warner Ballantyne, Ivan Sproule, Dale Maxwell (captain). Substitutes: Joel Gibson, Matthew Gibson, Stuart Mortland, Ciaran O’Loughlin, Kevin McGuigan.
Harryville Homers: Sean Ward, Jason Stewart, Ryan Stewart (captain), Ryan Bamber, David Gibson, Sam Armstrong, Randal Reid, Alan Rainey, Lewis Mearns, Justin Rowe, Frazer Young. Substitutes: Gary Baird, Gary Bonnes, Robbie Sutherland, Steven French, Marcus Spratt.