Top of the Hill Celtic lifted the Pat Harkin Cup for the third time after they upset favourites, Telstar Colts in an entertaining final last Thursday evening at the Brandywell Showgrounds.
The Gobnascale men dominated their star-studded opponents despite being billed as underdogs ahead of this season’s showpiece. Indeed, Cup kingpins Telstar began as firm favourites to claim the trophy for a fifth time.
Boasting the services of Paddy McLaughlin and Stephen Johnston in defence, Decky Divin and Darren Cassidy in midfield and star striker, Kevin Ramsey leading the line, the Creggan men had been one of the form teams throughout the competition.
Having defeated last year’s winners, Derry City Academy 3-1 in the semi-final, Telstar went into the final in confident mood.
However, Top of the Hill were never overawed by their more experienced opponents and straight from the kick-off, they went on the attack. Following a great run by James Boyd who skipped past three players, the striker was unfortunate not to get a shot at goal.
Telstar were struggling to get to grips with the pace of the game as Top of the Hill closed down their opponents at every opportunity, allowing the Creggan men no time to settle.
All that hard work paid dividends as Celtic broke the deadlock following a swift break which saw Neil Harkin cross for Declan McKeever who fired home from six yards.
Telstar responded through Ramsey who had a fine strike saved by McGilloway in the Celtic goal.
With half-time looming Celtic were fortunate to escape with their lead in tact as a snap shot from former Derry City man Cassidy was parried by Celtic keeper McGilloway. The ensuing goalmouth scramble saw the ball rebound off the underside of the crossbar before eventually being cleared.
Telstar were now enjoying the better of exchanges but Celtic defenders, Mark Scoltock and Gerard Kelly were in superb form and Telstar rarely threatened McGilloway’s goal. Indeed when James Boyd scored a spectacular second, Celtic had one hand on the Cup.
The nearest Telstar came to reducing the deficit was when substitute, Paul Doherty shot into the side netting when well placed.
Referee Noel Moore’s final whistle brought Top of the Hill their first success eight years, having first won the trophy claimed under the name Clifton Villa in 1992 before their last victory in 2003.
The Committee of Brandywell Harps FC wish to thank all their sponsors for their continued support in the running of the 33rd Pat Harkin Memorial Cup.
The committee acknowledged the support of Rocking Chair Bar, Waterloo St. and Willie McCrudden (Centra), Culmore Road, Badger’s Place, Orchard Street, Derry City Football Club, The Grove Dairy, Castlederg, Paedar O’Donnell’s Bar, Alec Orr Motor Factors, The Bluebell Bar, Jobby’s Sports Shop, McDermott & McGurk and Derry City Council for the use of the immaculate Showgrounds pitch and the Council groundsmen for their attention to the pitch and their hospitality throughout the tournament.
Thanks also to Sinn Fein Cllr. Patricia Logue for her valued support with the presentation.
Finally the committee would like to thank officials, Noel Moore, Marty Dunne and John Crossan for their top class refereeing throughout the tournament.