TOP OF The Hill Celtic will be hoping to clinch the McAlinden Cup trophy this Sunday for the first time since 2014 to add to their Terry Kelly Memorial Cup success.
However, Park Bar will be determined to spoil the Waterside men’s ‘double’ dreams and make up for last season’s Blue Riband Cup Final heartbreak as two of the best teams in the Derry & District go head-to-head in Sunday’s Blue Riband Cup Final at Brandywell Stadium (k.o. 11.30 a.m.)
And, with both teams still fighting for the Premier Division title, victory could provide a psychological edge as that race reaches its final stages.
Park Bar should have wrapped up the league title last weekend but, surprisingly, lost out to Brandywell Harps. Perhaps they had one eye on this Sunday’s cup final as they aim to make up for their defeat to Trojans last season.
They last won this trophy back in the 2012/13 season when they defeated Trojans in a thrilling final and they will start this match as favourites.
Key men in a very experienced Park side are Darren McCready, Darren Cassidy, Neal Murray and Joe McCready. Former Institute goalkeeper Corey Wilson was injured last Sunday and may miss this final with Conor Brady set to take his place.
On their way to the final, Park Bar defeated last season’s McAlinden Cup champions, Trojans, and Culmore and Lisahally.
While the league title may be beyond Top of the Hill Celtic ,who would need a major collapse from leaders Park Bar, they will be confident of securing a cup ‘double’ with the Terry Kelly Cup already in the bag from December last.
They knocked Park Bar out of the Terry Kelly Cup at the semi-final stage this season and also defeated them in the City Cabs Cup last term, so they will be hoping to keep their good run against them going on Sunday.
Top of the Hill last won the competition back in 2013/14 season when a last gasp Darren Harkin strike gave them a 1-0 win over Trojans.
The Waterside men have not been firing on all cylinders this season but they are still the team for the big occasion. Experienced goalkeeper, John Joe McGilloway, Jason Blackburn, Darren Harkin and Gavin McShane will be key players for them. To get to the final, they got a bye in the first round before eliminating Tristar and Don Bosco’s.
A close contest looks likely and this one could go all the way to extra-time or even the dreaded penalty shoot out.
Officials at the game will be referee, Noel Crossan, and his assistants will be Martin Dunne and Eamonn Harrigan.
Everyone connected with the Derry & District F.A. send their condolences to the family and friends of Charlie Hargan who passed away recently. His son Cyril referees for the association. May he rest in peace.