I love football, but getting up early on Christmas morning does test my faith. I was invited along, so it would have been rude not to. It wasn’t my first time at a Steel and Sons Cup Final, but it was a while ago. It was so long ago, the RUC were playing – 1993, and they beat Dundela 5-1.
This year’s game, was a clash between two Championship 1 sides, Carrick Rangers and Harland and Wolff Welders.
Having played a season at Seaview, and a few other matches due to renovations at Taylor’s Avenue, Carrick will have reason to feel at home. Though, with former Crusaders players Gary Smyth (manager) and David Rainey (forward) on their books, The Welders had two key personnel who would be at home at the North Belfast venue. Rainey was only recently ruled eligible for this game, as it was suggested that his role as a non playing subsitute in last season’s Irish Cup Final might have ruled him out.
Welders kicked-off and went straight on the attack, but it was Carrick who dominated the early stages, and went ahead on 17 minutes with a lovely finish from Aaron Smyth.
As half-time approached, Carrick went 2-0 from a header by Kyle Cherry.
Mark Magennis had Welders best moment in the early stages of the second-half when his free-kick was headed off the line.
The next goal was crucial, and it was Carrick that got it, when Conor McCloskey fired home just before the hour. The game was effectively over.
The game didn’t go all Carrick’s way, with 15 minutes remaining they had Daniel Kelly sent-off for a second yellow card. It could possibly have been a straight red card, as he brought down his opponent running through on goal.
From the resulting free-kick, there was a scramble which resulted in Michael McLellan putting the ball in the back of the net.
Welders have a brief lifeline, and against ten men, they fancied their chances.
With each passing minute, they knew a dramatic comeback wasn’t going to happen. In injury time, Ben Roy made sure of it, if there was any doubt when he finished to make it 4-1, celebrating with the Carrick fans behind the goal at the Shore Road End. They knew the job was done.
Carrick were deserved winners.