Newmarket Celtic carved their name in the history books of Clare soccer after winning the Prego Menswear Clare Cup for the fourth year in a row, a feat that no team in the County has ever achieved.
Newmarket Celtic 4
Bridge United 2
Venue: County Grounds, Doora.
In the past week stories in the global sports world included the tenth anniversary of Liverpool’s infamous Champions League Final comeback against AC Milan in Istanbul and the sixteenth anniversary of Manchester United’s heroics in the Nou Camp versus Bayern Munich. Both teams defied the odds in coming back and claiming special victories; while it may not have been as attractive as the Nou Camp, the County Grounds played host to its own heroic comeback as Newmarket Celtic came back from two goals down at half-time to win the Clare Cup for the fourteenth time.
Spurred on by their shortcomings in the Husqvarna Maloney Garden Machinery Premier Division, Bridge Utd started the game the better and took the lead via Michael McNamara their ace attacker who picked up his twenty second goal in competitive games this year with a nice strike that got past Celtic custodian Niall Quinn.
Things went from bad to worse for the double chasing Newmarket Celtic as Pa McMahon fired to the back of their net in the lead up to half-time from a free kick. Momentum was certainly with the Sixmilebridge club at half-time with the score 2-0 in their favour.
Celtic upped the ante in the second half and manager Liam Murphy introduced Eoin O’Brien, Eoin Hayes and Ian Collins at the break and the trio certainly made an impact on proceedings. Both Hayes and O’Brien had already featured for the Newmarket Senior Hurlers in their 2-13 to 1-13 win over Feakle.
Former Clare Oscar Traynor captain, David McCarthy gave Newmarket a much needed lift when he beat John Mulready from a free on the edge of the box with over ten minutes played in the second half.
McCarthy headed to the back of the Bridge net to level matters after getting on the end of a Newmarket cross. A scuffle broke out in the aftermath of McCarthy’s goal that saw both teams reduced to ten men as Darragh Fitzgerald and Darren Cullinan were sent for early showers.
When Newmarket clinched the Cup last season it was Daithí O’Connell who picked up the man of the match award after a stunning display that saw him finish with a hat-trick. The Shannon man made another significant contribution as he booted the ball to the back of the Bridge net with fifteen minutes remaining to shove Celtic in front.
From here, Bridge Utd dropped their heads and failed to create any decent scoring opportunities. It was the opposite for Newmarket as their confidence and self-belief was on the rise aided by the amount of damage being caused on the wings by Ian Collins and Alan Brigdale.
Indeed it was Collins who would play a pivotal role in Celtic’s fourth goal as he gave a brilliant through ball to David McCarthy who slotted past Mulready to seal the win. In the resulting celebration, McCarthy was handed a second yellow which left Newmarket with nine men in the final few minutes of the contest.
Overall it was the experience and balance of the Newmarket men that swung the tie in their favour. When the Bridge needed to get going in the second half they didn’t and the League Champions were aware of this and made it their business to punish them.
Eoghan McNulty can be pleased with his first year in charge of Bridge Utd. They may be upset that they came up that little bit short to Newmarket in both the League and Cup but there is no doubt they were a worthy second. Captain Darren Murphy led his troops by example as always while Pa McMahon and Michael McNamara did well also.
Having come up short in the FAI and Munster Junior Cup, Newmarket made a promise to themselves to ensure they collected the silverware on offer in Clare and that they did finishing off the season with League and Cup success.
Key to their triumph is the management team behind them. Both Liam Murphy and Davy Ryan have an astute knowledge of the Clare soccer scene and have the tactical know how that is required on the big day.
On the pitch, David McCarthy was Newmarket’s star man as he picked up a Cup Final hat-trick. Paddy Purcell was prominent in defence while Stephen and Alan Kelly utilised possession well. Alan Brigdale caused a lot of problems for the Bridge defence while eighteen year old Ian Collins did exceptional in his first Cup Final appearance as he tormented the Bridge down the right-hand side.
A place in the history books is Celtic’s reward and it is a fitting honour for a team who have the ability to continue to dominate matters in Clare and beyond for years to come.
After the match, CDSL Chairman Donie Garrihy handed the man of the match award to David McCarthy and thanked all clubs for their assistance while he served as Chairman for the four years and ironically he has presented the Cup to Newmarket Celtic in each year of his term. Garrihy presented the Prego Menswear Clare Cup to Eoin O’Brien who praised the entire squad and officers in the club while also paying tributes to worthy opponents Bridge Utd.
Newmarket Celtic: Niall Quinn, Seamie Lawlor, Paddy Purcell, Stephen Kelly, Darren Cullinan, Alan Kelly, Michael Crosby, Alan Brigdale, Daithí O’Connell, David McCarthy, Paudie Hayes. Subs: Eoin O’Brien for Lawlor (HT), Ian Collins for Crosby (HT), Eoin Hayes for Hayes (HT), David O’Grady for O’Connell (71), Cathal Hayes for Brigdale (88).
Bridge Utd: John Mulready, Jason Whyte, Darren Murphy, Eoin Guinan, Jonathan Downes, Mark Culbert, Michael McNamara, Anton Mannering, Pa McMahon, Darragh Fitzgerald, Chris Lake. Subs: Derek Fahy for Culbert (53), Trevor Maxwell for Lake (57), Kevin Kelly for Downes (66), Eric Carr for Guinan (72), Kieran Quinlan for McMahon (77).
Referee: Martin O’Brien.