Dromore Amateurs Youth Under 19s couldn’t have finished their season off any better than they did on Saturday.
For the third time this campaign, the locals had reached a final, and having lost out on the two previous occasions they were more determined than ever to make amends and this they did.
They captured the Mid Ulster Juvenile League Knockout Plate the hard way, netting a last minute equaliser to then win on penalties over Hillhead Eagles at Craigavon’s 4G facility.
The Dromore side has developed a never say die attitude over the course of the last couple of years, and it was this that saw them through to victory, their two goals coming from a Ben Martin double.
Dromore started very slowly, Hillhead getting to everything first and the locals seemed totally out of sorts. This paid off for the Tyrone side who took the lead after about 30 minutes, Dromore failing to clear when they should have done.
That tone continued until half-time when Dromore only had their defence to thank for keeping it to a 1-0 deficit.
The second half saw some changes and Dromore turned the game on its head, with most of the pressure coming from the locals.
Striker Ben Martin has had a tremendous season and sure enough it was his equaliser that pulled the Dromore side back.
Constant Dromore pressure for the last 15 minutes saw the Hillhead side on the ropes, although they were dangerous on the break and keeper Neil Herron had to be on his toes on a couple of occasions.
The game ticked on scoreless and during the first period of extra-time, Hillhead were perhaps fortunate to retake the lead.
Nonetheless, it left Dromore with a mountain to climb. This became harder in the second period with centre-back Andrew Compton rightly sent off for a rash challenge and substitute Bob Gibson having to be substituted himself after turning an ankle.
However, Dromore are made of stern stuff and the ten left on the field refused to give up. Hillhead were poised to celebrate but were stunned into silence in the last minute as Ben Martin fought for a ball on the right, took it round two defenders and headed in on the Hillhead goal. With just seconds remaining, he thundered the ball home from a tight angle to the delight of the Dromore bench.
A tense penalty shootout ensued, this time it was Herron’s time to shine. A mixture of misses and two penalty saves from the goalkeeper saw it that it was stopper Herron himself who would line up to take a sudden death penalty with the chance to secure victory.
The Dromore keeper blasted it into the back of the net to spark wild celebrations from the locals and see captain Keith McGuigan finally hold a trophy aloft.
Ben Martin was Dromore’s worthy man of the match after a standout performance on the day.
Team: Herron, McCutcheon, Mceneaney, Compton, McGuigan (c), Biggerstaff (Gibson/Rice), Mallon, R Cunningham, Wilson, Lavery, Martin