BANBRIDGE Rangers will take part in their first ever Cup Final this Friday evening, April 15, when they take on Camlough Rovers in the Alan Wilson Cup.
The two teams have been drawn together in two previous cup competitions this season with each side recording last minute winners in extra time.
The Wilson Cup Final should prove to be another close encounter between the Intermediate B rivals who, remarkably, recorded their cup successes over one another as the away team. Camlough Rovers and Banbridge Rangers have superb defensive records to date so far this season in the league and especially at their home grounds.
Banbridge Rangers route to the final began with a 6-1 demolition of Ballymacash Rangers at Cheney Park after receiving a bye through from Round one of the competition.
The quarter final rout over Ballymacash started just after twenty minutes when Jason Gourley glanced his header past the keeper followed by his striking partner Gareth Fulton who fired home a half volley two minutes later. In the second half a Chris Chambers penalty opened the floodgates with Fulton getting a second goal followed by Jonny Porter and then with Neil Clydesdale finishing the game with a sixth goal.
The semi final against Hanover on March 5 was a combative affair with Banbridge Rangers recording a 6-1 score line similar to the Quarter Final. John McCahon got the only goal of the first half after a flick on by Gourley who then fired home a second half hat trick before Scott Ward and Bradley Hughes increased the deficit over the Portadown side.
Camlough also received a bye from round one and had a narrow victory over Richhill in the quarter finals before leaving it late to see off current Wilson Cup holders Lisanally Rangers in the other semi final last month.
Neither of the sides can be declared as outright favourite with Camlough eliminating Banbridge Rangers out of the Marshall Cup 3-2 in extra time in October followed by a reversal in the Intermediate Cup when a solitary Colin Cousins goal was enough to secure victory for the Banbridge side 60 seconds before a dreaded penalty shootout.
Friday’s game may come as close again and force a penalty shootout but Rangers manager Geordie McCallister will be hoping his side can do the business in normal time. It would be a fitting accolade for McCallister if his Rangers side can pick up their first title under his reign after two years in charge of the Mid Ulster team.
Current Player, Chairman and Founder Richard McMinn is hoping that Banbridge Rangers can emulate the 2006/07 season when Rangers won their first piece of silverware in the shape of the Mid Ulster Division 4 title at the first time of asking.
“This season has all of the ingredients to be one of the most memorable in the short history of Banbridge Rangers Football Club with a league and cup double very much on the cards, the Cup Final has been on the radar for the last six weeks and our supporters can rest assured that every member of the squad will be trying their utmost to bring the trophy back to Banbridge,” he said
McMinn is hopeful that the large vocal support that has followed the club since their inception back in 2005 can play a major part in helping bring home the Alan Wilson Cup, “The catalyst for our on the pitch success has been as a result of many off the field factors, one of which is the large volumes of supporters who come down to watch all off the teams within the club.” Downshire Coach Travel have supplied buses to several Rangers games this season including Newry City and Carrick Rangers and will continue by laying on several coaches for the match on Friday evening.
Several local businesses have also put their backing into the club through sponsorship of the Cup Final with Headlines Hair Studio in Jingler’s Court and The Streat Restaurant in the Outlet kindly contributing to the highly anticipated match. The Wilson Cup Final will be played at Holm Park, home to Armagh City FC with kick off at 7.30pm. Buses will leave the Imperial Inn car park between 5.30pm and 6.15pm on Friday evening with only a limited number of seats remaining a reservation is required, for further information please contact Stuart Magill on 07706001288 or any member of the committee.
- FOR a look at the squad and this week’s Rangers round-up see pages 44-45.