Castlewellan Forest Win Harry Clarke Cup 2024

Castlewellan Forest beat Killough FC in Harry Clarke Cup Final 2024

Killough FC worked their cotton socks off in the Harry Clarke Final 2024, but it was Castlewellan Forest that defended against their constant attacks and scored the only goal of the match writes Jim Masson ©).

Both teams were full strength and on paper it looked to be a fairly equal confrontation. But Killough came out of the stalls at a fast pace eager to claim a quick goal and they brought the game to Castlewellan.

Ben McLaughlin and Ben Gargan were quick to threaten the Castlewellan goal. Then after Declan Looney took the ball down the right there was an early bit of drama with both Tony McIlhone and Ruairi Sharvin who both hit shots that bounced of a brick wall aka the Castlewellan goal keeper, and Player of the Match deservedly, Brian McVeigh.

Celebrating after winning the Harry Clarke Cup 2024 beating Killough FC 0-1, are Castlewellan Forest players (l-r) Shane McCann (captain), Aidan Dornan and Conall Burns (head coaches) with Joseph O’Neill. (Photos by Jim Masson / Down News ©).

Brian played well throughout the match with excellent handling, use of space, showing courage and confidence. Killough just could not get the ball past him despite all their efforts.

Killough won five corners in a row putting sustained pressure on Castlewellan. Eventually after about 15 minutes Castlewellan made their first foray into the Killough goal area with a pass from Jason Croskery to Aidan Dornan but Killough keeper Pearce McCarthy was onto it quickly.

Castlewellan then won a corner and Croskery volleyed the ball over the crossbar.


McLaughlin ran forward into the Castlewellan half but was fouled with a high kick. Then Killough captain Gareth George tried to chip the ball to Declan Looney down the left but it went too far ahead and was a half chance.

Castlewellan defender Barry Travers again made a decisive intervention when Killough were attacking and passed upfield to Caolan Taggart and Tony McIlhone but offsides was given as they ploughed forward on 24 minutes.

The Castllewellan Forest team celebrate after winning the Harry Clarke Cup 2024.

Looney was working well up front and hit an excellent volley from the right which on a good day would have hit the back of the net but it just shaved the back post.

Castlewellan were doing enough to contain Killough as the first half unfolded. Castlewellan gradually got a bit bolder up front and on one attack, Croskery challenged strongly but keeper McCarthy did well to clear the ball from his goal area.

A short time later, a long ball to Aidan Dornan saw the Killough keeper run out to meet him closing him down but he went out over his line and still managed to make an excellent header clearance judging the bounce well.

Tony McIlhone was buzzing to get a goal, and let fly with a header which just missed the right hand post.

Then disaster struck for Killough as they gave away a free kick almost on the whistle for half-time and Thomas Rice found the ball at his feet and struck it well into the back of the Killough net on 45+1.

The second half started with Killough pressing for the elusive equaliser. A clever play by Gargan clipping the ball to Looney almost paid off.

Castlewellan Forest scorer Tommy Rice with Player of the Match, goalkeeper Brian McVeigh.

There was a constant pressure from Killough but Castlewellan seemed to absorb it, and on occasions break up field quickly presenting a danger to the Killough goal area.

In a good run to the Killough goal by Castlewellan, sub Scott Kinley moved into the front of the goal and got his first touch when he almost scored heading the ball down close onto the Killough goal line and there was a scramble as McVeigh smothered it.

It showed that Castlewellan were still formidable even though Killough had had a lot of the ball action in their half.

And again McIlhone ran at the goal chasing a long ball in, but keeper Brian McVeigh read it well and closed McIlhone down.


Then Looney almost broke through the back line after being challenged by Shane McCann and again McVeigh thwarted their efforts too.

When on a Killough attack, Declan Burns was fouled just outside the Castlwellan box, there was a strong attack by Castlewellan… the ball hitting the crossbar from a Gareth George shot and bouncing out and another Killough forward after a second attempt also hit the crossbar.

The 2024 Harry Clarke Cup runners-up, Killough FC.

This was a spell of high drama for Killough after sub Cillian Burns hit a rocket over the top bar.

And to add salt to their wounds, Caolan Taggart also hit the top post. Killough’s luck had just run clean out.

But Killough were well disciplined and stuck to their task battling to the end. Declan Burns almost headed in at close quarters which again must have been a frustration for the home team.

Castlewellan them made a quick break after Castlewellan had won a corner and Declan Burns made a great effort to score but was faced with a goal keeper on fire for the day.

At times it looked as though Killough would eventually pop a goal in. But the Castlewellan front line came into their own and pushed the game more into the Killough half.

Conor Kelly and Declan Looney were pushing for an equaliser to stay in the game as the clock ticked away closer to the final whistle. And Burns was unlucky as he was blocked well by keeper McVeigh, as sound as a pound, who just was not giving anything away any change in this match.

In a last gasp effort, sub Daniel Taggart crossed to Declan Burns in the goalmouth and Burns struck his header well on target but McVeigh was there to block it. McVeigh had played an incredible performance in the Castlewellan goals denying a determined Killough.

As the game ended, the game came to its inevitable conclusion with Killough pressing as they had done in the opening phase. But they were goal-less, haven been been beaten by a Tommy Rice goal.


At times the soccer was scrappy, it started off and on with fouls and substitutions, and the second half was certainly more physical than the first. But the players gave their all.

Killough’s team Conor Doyle’s managed by Conor Doyle came to face Castlewellan headed by Aidan Dornan and Conall Burns at Meadowvale and left disappointed, with Castlewellan Forest bringing the silver home thanks to a Tommy Rice goal and great goal-keeping by Brian McVeigh.

Killough FC: 1 Pearce McCarthy 2 Sean Og Burns 3 Gareth George (C) 4 Caoimhin Groves 5 Eamon Gargan 6 Ruairi Sharvin 7 Declan Burns 8 Caolan Taggart 9 Declan Looney 10 Ben McLaughlin 11 Tony McIlhone. Subs: 12 Conor Kelly 13 Jamie McIlhone 14 Riain Burns 15 Daniel Taggart 16 Cillian Burns.

Castlewellan Forest: 1 Brian McVeigh 2 Callum McCabe 3 Barry Travers 4 Conall Burns 5 Shane McCann (C) 6 Ryan Morgan 7 Thomas Rice 8 Caolan Corrigan 9 Aidan Dornan 10 Sean Fitzsimmons 11 Jason Croskery. Subs: 12 Declan Gregory 13 Scott Kinley 14 Conor Stratton 15 Joseph O’Neill 16 Shane Mooney.

And remember, check the Down News Facebook page for all the photos from the match HERE.