Top of the Hill Celtic . . . . . . . . . . 1
Park Bar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
(Celtic won 5-4 on pens)
TOP OF The Hill Celtic clinched the 2015 City Cabs League Cup on Sunday morning as goalkeeper, John Joe McGilloway proved the match winner against Park Bar during a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
The Celtic goalkeeper saved Park Bar’s fifth penalty kick to ensure the Premier Division champions exacted revenge for their defeat in the 2015 Terry Kelly Cup Final.
The teams couldn’t be separated in extra-time with the scores level at 1-1. Jordan Armstrong had gifted Park the lead when he rifled home inside the penalty box four minutes into extra-time.
Colum Murray then restored parity for Celtic five minutes later with an expertly hit strike which gave Park keeper no chance.
And following nine superbly hit penalties in the dreaded shootout, it was McGilloway who came to the fore with an excellent save from Gareth Faulkner’s spot-kick.
Faulkner had actually netted the winning penalty in the Terry Kelly Cup Final back in February when the teams last met!
This time he and his Park teammates were forced to watch on enviously as Top of the Hill celebrated their fantastic league and cup ‘double’.
Neither side could break the deadlock in the opening 90 minutes but just eight minutes into the game Park came so close to scoring as a sliced clearance fell to Gareth Brown but, with McGilloway out of position, he failed to connect properly and sent his shot wide.
It was nip and tuck for the remainder of the first but just before the break Faulkner broke into space and sent a curling strike towards goal, however, McGilloway gathered the ball at the second time of asking.
Top of the Hill should really have opened the scoring shortly afterwards when Andy Devlin crossed from the right but Mark Crossan glanced his shot wide of the target.
It was a bright start to the second half and both McGee and Brown had decent chances for their respective sides but couldn’t find the net.
A rare goalscoring opportunity fell to Top of the Hill skipper, Pol Brown on 70 minutes when he reacted quickest to a loose ball but his shot from 12 yards was pushed away by Park keeper, Corey Wilson.
Top of the Hill looked likeliest to go on and clinch the win in the closing stages but Wilson denied McGee before the end of 90 minutes.
Four minutes into extra-time and finally the deadlock was broken when the influential Darren McCready broke into the penalty area and his cross was deflected into the path of Armstrong who volleyed into the roof of the net from 10 yards.
Joe McCready was gifted a superb chance to finish the game off when he beat the offside trap and raced through on goal but, with Faulkner in support, his attempted pass was intercepted by Tom Carlin and the chance was lost.
And Park were made to rue that mistake as Top of the Hill equalised in the final attack of the first period of extra-time.
Darren McFadden headed the ball across the face of goal and Murray was on hand to strike it into the top corner.
The game was to be settled in penalties but this time McGilloway proved the hero as Top of the Hill made up for their penalty heartbreak in February and brought the League Cup back to Gobnascale.
As for Park Bar, it was a second successive Derry & District F.A. cup defeat following their recent 2-0 defeat to Trojans in the McAlinden Cup Final but they can take some comfort from their Terry Kelly Cup triumph.
See highlights from Sunday’s City Cabs League Cup final, including the penalty shootout, on: www.derryjournal.com