THE CURTAIN comes down on the 2011-2012 Derry & District F.A. season on Sunday as Brandywell Harps and Abercorn contest the McAlinden Cup Final in the Brandywell Stadium. (Kick-off 3.00 p.m.)
Brandywell Harps v Abercorn
Liam Deery takes his young team into the final against a vastly experienced Abercorn side and while his side will no doubt be underdogs, in a one-off match anything can happen.
Harps had a poor league campaign as the youngsters continue to adapt to this higher level of football.
Over the years they have been one of the best cup sides in the Derry & District F.A. and have collected this Blue Riband trophy on many occasions. Goalkeeper, Lee Wade has been consistent for them all season and other key players for Harps will be striker Darren McFadden , Raymond Rogan and Dan McIntyre.
The draw was kind to Harps on the way to the final this year as they easily accounted for First Division side, A.O.H. Harps before netting five past Celtic Swifts in round two. In the quarter-finals they squeezed past Division One side The Bentley and in the semi-final narrowly got the better of First Division champions, Oxford United Stars.
Last season’s Terry Kelly Cup winners, Abercorn have never lifted this trophy - the closest they came was when they lost in the final in the 2001-02 season in one of the best ever deciders.
It ended 3-3 against Top of the Hill Celtic on that occasion but they lost out on the golden goal rule in extra-time.
Under the management team of Gareth ‘Pip’ Cassidy, George McGowan and Chris McLoone they, like their opponents had a poor league campaign. Their team is full of experienced players and will start as favourites.
Top scorer, Liam McGuinness will be playing against his former club and he will have to be marked closely.
Sandy Gillespie, Declan McGowan, Alex Given and Sean Mapp will be key players for them, not forgetting the evergreen, Dee Liddy.
In the first round they defeeated Porter’s before eliminating First Division side, Culmore. They were taken all the way to a penalty shoot-out before defeating Strand United, also from Division One. In the semi-final they knocked out Don Bosco’s.
Games between these sides are often closely contested affairs and the final should be no exception. The first goal could prove vital in this final but Abercorn will be expected to make their experience count and lift this prestigious trophy on Sunday afternoon.
Annual General Meeting
At this week’s annual general meeting, three teams were accepted into the league for the 2012/13 season - Derry City, City Herald F.A. and Bridgend Celtic.
Meanwhile, the function to celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Derry & District Football Association will take place this Monday night in Pitcher’s Restaurant at the Foyle Golf Centre.
The Presentation Dinner and Dance is expected to command a large attendance and tickets are currently available from any member of the Derry & District F.A. Committee.