McCallion on the double as Foyle Harps win centenary McAlinden Cup Final
FOYLE HARPS lifted the Derry & District F.A. McAlinden Cup on the 100th anniversary of the popular competition after a comprehensive victory over 10 man Maiden City at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.
Calvin McCallion netted a brace during a chaotic five minute spell at the end of the first half which ultimately sealed the destination of the trophy as Harps took home the first piece of silverware in the association’s special centenary year.
The game was shrouded in controversy, however, as match referee Paul Doherty came to the fore during an action-packed opening 45 minutes.
The Maiden City players and bench were up in arms after Harps’ opening goal on 12 minutes as Dean Brown appeared to foul goalkeeper Kristian O’Hagan before sending a well executed overhead kick into the empty net. When Maiden City captain Jamie Robinson received a second yellow card for a foul on Ryan Doherty on 40 minutes, the Waterside based outfit were left with a mountain to climb.
And their woes were compounded during the following five minutes as McCallion scored twice to put the game out of reach for Maiden City with 45 minutes remaining. The double took McCallion’s goal tally to an impressive 14 goals this season in all competitions and he deservedly earned the man of the match accolade.
For Foyle Harps coach Stevie Johnston, he was delighted the Shantallow club got their hands on the trophy. “I have a great association with the D&D for a long time myself and to be involved with Foyle Harps I’m over the moon for the club and the players,” he said.
“It was never really a league Foyle Harps played in so to be a part of it is great and hopefully we can go on and win more things here.”
It was a one-sided showpiece after the sending off and Johnston agreed the red card changed the game.
“In fairness it took for us to score before we started playing. The sending off did change the game in our favour. Whether or not he should have been sent off . . . well I think myself it was two yellow cards but it changed the game.
“We still had to go out and win it because fair play to Maiden City, they’re a great wee side. They’re well drilled, well oiled and you can see they have good coaches behind them. But I’m delighted for the boys. They’ve grown up together. Foyle Harps is a community club and they’ve done brilliantly and this will be great for them.
“For the D&D to fold the way it did was a shame and to have it back is great and for me personally, I think if they did it in the summer they would have a better chance of maintaining it. So far the competition has been great. I got to play with Liam Coyle in the D&D for Brandywell Harps so I have great memories.”
The final began at a frantic pace and Foyle Harps opened the scoring on 12 minutes with that controversial strike. Colm Paul Robb sent in an inswinging free-kick from the right and Dean Brown nudged Maiden City keeper O’Hagan out of the way before hooking the ball over his head and into the net. It was a clever finish but the Maiden City bench were furious with referee Mr Doherty for refusing to blow for a foul in the build-up.
Maiden City responded well and Tiarnan O’Connor flashed a dangerous ball across the face of the Harps goalmouth but no one could get onto the end of it and the chance was lost. Josh Kee then fired wide on the half volley as the Waterside club desperately attempted to get back in the game.
Harps striker Ryan Doherty sent a glancing header over the bar from Brendan Moore’s free-kick on 38 minutes, however, the match was to swing favourably the way of the Shantallow men two minutes later.Maiden City captain Robinson was harshly shown a second yellow card for a tackle on Doherty and from the resultant free-kick Dee Dee Campbell found Doherty who headed it across the face of goal and McCallion nodded into the net from two yards to double Harps’ lead.
It proved five nightmare minutes for Maiden City whose woes were compounded on the stroke of half-time as Benny McFadden’s cross from the left was chested down by McCallion before he volleyed expertly into the bottom corner.
Substitute Odhran Scarlett fired Harps further in front 14 minutes into the second half with a low strike from 20 yards which crept under the arms of the Maiden City keeper. Harps were denied a fifth when substitutes Paddy Doherty and Steven Duffy combined but the latter’s point blank effort was saved superbly by the foot of the Maiden City stopper.
Lewis Dallas played Brendan Moore in behind the Harps defence with a superb through ball but Conor Brown advanced from his line and managed to get a strong hand to his shot on 75 minutes. Moments later Dallas jinked his way through the Harps defence but somehow slotted wide of the post with the keeper beaten. At the other end McCallion missed a glorious chance to complete his hat-trick when he got in behind the Maiden City defence but he fired the wrong side of the post.
Harps sub, Steven Duffy was through one-on-one with the keeper but his shot was saved and his rebound was cleared off the line by Ryan Kloepe. Aaron Harvey screwed his shot wide of the far post with three minutes to go after a promising run through the Harps defence as the consolation goal went begging once again.
The Maiden City keeper made a brilliant double save in the final moments of the game to deny Campbell and then McFadden but the damage had been done and Harps celebrated in style at the final whistle.
MAIDEN CITY: Kristian O’Hagan, Luke Curry (Logan Street 63), Caolan McDermott, Rhys McGaughey (Aaron Harvey 63), Jamie Robinson, Tony Mullan, Josh Kee, Mark Toland (Lewis Dallas 53), Tiarnan O’Connor (Brendan Moore 53), Robbie Hume (J. McIntrye 32), Ryan McCaul (Ryan Kloepe h-t).
FOYLE HARPS: Conor Brown, Marcus O’Kane, Jay Smith, Dee Dee Campbell, Colm Paul Robb (Steven Duffy 63), Calvin McCallion, Gareth McFadden, Dean Brown (Odhran Scarlett h-t), Aidan McCauley (Luke McCloskey 85), Ryan Doherty (Paddy Doherty 63), Benny McFadden.
REFEREE: Paul Doherty