Foyle Harps claim inaugural Willie Curran U12 Cup victory after thrilling final against Phoenix

Derry & District U-12 Willie Curran Memorial Cup

Monday, 13th December 2021, 3:31 pm
Updated Monday, 13th December 2021, 3:32 pm
Foyle Harps celebrate victory in the inaugural Willie Curran Memorial Cup Under 12 final at the Vale Centre, Greysteel on Sunday after defeating Phoenix 3-2. (Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)

Foyle Harps edged a closely-contested Willie Curran Memorial Cup final against Phoenix on Sunday morning at the Vale Centre, coming away with a narrow 3-2 victory.

A sizeable attendance witnessed some excellent football in this, the Derry & District Youth Football 2021 Under 12 season finale. The inaugural trophy was presented by Willie’s son, Liam, to mark his late father’s dedication to junior football across the city.

Willie, as well as having played the game so successfully with his beloved Derry City F.C. (resulting in him receiving a Derry City FC lifetime volunteer award and becoming the first player to be inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame), gave so much of his time to youth football having been involved with the D&D, initially as registrar, then Treasurer, and finally Vice-Chairman. He was a huge loss to football and the whole football fraternity was saddened by his death in January of this year.

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Mr. Liam Curran presents the Willie Curran Memorial Cup to Foyle Harps captain Rory McCauley at the Vale Centre on Sunday. Included at front is Conor McCauley, captain, Phoenix, and at back, Gary Boyd, Charlie Kelpie, referee and John Crossan. (Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)

After his playing days ended, Willie devoted so much of his time to the youth of the city and district and made a huge contribution to the success of the city’s international O’Neill’s Foyle Cup Tournament.

Indeed, the game itself was a great testimony to the sportsmanship displayed by Willie on the field of play as both teams sportingly battled for the honour of being the first winners of this prestigious trophy.

First blood went to Phoenix in the early stages of Sunday’s final after Ronan Clarke collected the ball 30 yards out and his powerful drive gave Harps’ net-minder, Darragh McMonagle no chance.

Minutes later, after continued pressure, Harps were level. A corner from the right was neatly met by the head of captain McCauley to bring the sides level at 1-1.

Foyle Harps, winners of the inaugural Willie Curran Memorial Cup u-12 at the Vale Centre, Greysteel on Sunday after defeating Phoenix 3-2.(Photo: Jim McCafferty)

A battling performance from Phoenix striker Ethan Millar saw him pick up a pass through the centre and calmly tuck it past the advancing keeper to put the Rosemount side 2-1 in front.

Then, in the dying minutes of the first half, Phoenix carelessly gave away a penalty, neatly tucked away by captain McCauley despite Phoenix goalkeeper McGill getting a hand to it.

The start of the second period saw constant pressure from the Harps forward line but again, it was a set-piece that gave them the final goal midway through the half. A corner from the left was toe-poked home in a goalmouth melee by Harps’ Caleb Brown to put his side in front for the first time in the final.

The dying minutes saw a Harps defence kept on their toes as Phoenix piled on the pressure for an equaliser. Despite numerous attacks, excellent defending by the back four and keeper McMonagle, thwarted a comeback as the final whistle saw Foyle Harps claim the inaugural Willie Curran Cup.

Phoenix, runners-up in the inaugural Willie Curran Memorial Cup U12 at the Vale Centre, Greysteel on Sunday. (Photo: Jim McCafferty)