Strangford Power Way Into Harry Clarke Final

Strangford Too Strong For Valley Rangers In NFU Mutual Harry Clarke Cup Semi-Final

Strangford Too Strong For Valley Rangers In NFU Mutual Harry Clarke Cup Semi-Final

The Newcastle and District Amateur Football League,

NFU Mutual Harry Clarke Cup semi-final,

Meadowvale, Friday 31st March 2023.

Final score: Valley Rangers Colts 2 6 Strangford FC.

Valley Rangers Colts made the long trip to Ballyhornan to take on Strangford in this NFU Mutual Harry Clarke Cup semi-final played under lights in front of a large crowd writes Cyril McKinney

Strangford started the better and had the best of the opening exchanges through Conal Fitzsimons who put a header wide of the back post from a left wing corner on 6 minutes.

Minutes later Thomas Fitzsimons put a header wide from a right wing corner on 10 minutes.

Strangford’s Conall Magee avoids a tackle by Dylan Patterson of Valley Rangers. (Photos by Cyril McKinney.)

These wasted opportunities looked likely to be costly when from a right wing corner from Valley Rangers number 17 Matthew Burns found Andrew McKee in space and he made no mistake from close range to put Valley in front.

Strangford got back on level terms on 27 minutes through Conal Fitzsimons who got on the end of a through ball down the right channel and shot first time low and hard across the keeper into the far corner.

Fitzsimons again was on hand again on 34 minutes to put Strangford in front 2-1 with an excellent finish.

Callum Shields holds possession for Strangford as Valley’s Gareth Hewitt pushes in.

At this stage many thought Strangford would take control but another set play free out on the left wing found Gareth Hewitt with the ball at his feet and he squared things up at 2-2 going into halftime.

Into the second half and despite Valley Rangers starting brightly, Strangford began slowly to dominate and on 52 minutes it took an instinctive right foot finish from Conal Fitzsimons from 12 yards out to complete his hatrick and provide a springboard for Strangford dominance.

Valley Rangers had an appeal for a penalty turned down and minutes later found themselves 4-2 down on 66 minutes when Callum Shields netted to finish of a great move down the left and cross from James Mahoney who seemed to grow in confidence as the second half progressed.

Strangford’s James Mahoney races past Valley’s Colin Davey.

At this stage Strangford started to show why they were two leagues above their opponents and they went further ahead on 83 minutes through James Mahoney with a near post finish from a right wing cross.

Then on 87 minutes Fionn McFall completed the scoring with a well taken penalty after Callum Shields was upended in the box.

The scoreline doesn’t reflect the hard work, industry and determination of Valley Rangers who gave a good account of themselves especially in the first half and at times Strangford were made to work hard for this victory but were deserving winners by the end.

Valley Rangers: Lee Dunn, Andrew Stevenson, Colin Davey, Dylan Patterson, Andrew McKee, Stephen Campbell, Samuel Dorman, Gareth Hewitt, Nathan Trimble, Matthew Burns, Darren Rowan. Subs: Darren Rowan, Benn Orr for Colin Davey , Curtis McAteer for Dylan Patterson, Alex Sloss, Richard Shannon

Strangford FC: Cathal Kinsella , Stefan McGrattan , Conall Magee , Thomas Fitzsimons, Fionn McFall, Shane Taggart, Owen Curran, Callum Shields , Conal Fitzsimons, James Mahoney , Shea Savage Subs: Eoin King for Shea Savage , S Scranage, Sean Cultra for Owen Curran, James Shields, Eoin Watterson for Thomas Fitzsimons