New-Bridge are the champions as Martin’s miraculous goal seals victory

Cailum Meara collects the U14 Small Schools League Cup from Match Official Derek Wright, after after the local school saw off Integrated College Dungannon 3-1 in the final.
Cailum Meara collects the U14 Small Schools League Cup from Match Official Derek Wright, after after the local school saw off Integrated College Dungannon 3-1 in the final.

New-Bridge Integrated College claimed the U14 Small Schools League Cup after a thrilling 3-1 victory over Integrated College Dungannon in the final.

Skipper Cailum Meara and Peter McGrath were both on target before Josh Martin sealed the win with a goal befitting the occasion.

It all looked a long way off when opponents ICD took the initiative and the lead early on. Their striker got in behind defender Meara and was able to finish back goalkeeper Dylan Stewart.

New-Bridge responded well though, gaining more possession. Still their chances were limited due to the excellent defending of ICD number four, who seemed to cover all areas of defence.

New-Bridge continued to control possession using the width of the pitch to stretch ICD defence, which resulted in a corner that would prove fruitful. From a Conor Weir delivery into the danger area, Captain Meara was able to somehow nudge the ball into the ICD net, to level the scores at the break.

In the second half, New-Bridge gained further control of the game with Stephen Gallagher working down the right side and linking more with Conor and Peter up top.

Stephen moved into a more central role and it was from a run through the middle that New-Bridge took the lead that they weren’t going to surrender.

Gallagher was through on goal but was taken down inside the box before he could manage to get a shot away in a chance that would almost certainly have brought a goal.

Peter McGrath collected the ball from the corner, placed it on the penalty spot and finished with ease.

Possession and control of the game were now with the away team and ICD looked tired and withdrawn in the heat.

The game was finished off in spectacular style as Josh Martin hit an amazing left foot curler from the edge of the D to find the top right corner, leaving the ICD goalkeeper with little chance of the save.

Celebrations were limited as there were still five minutes left on the clock, but Haddow and Meara looked comfortable in defence, with Martin and Winters controlling the midfield. In truth, the locals never looked like giving their opponents a route back into the game.

Respectful words from ICD coach complimented the second half performance of the New-Bridge players, who deserved to win this match after a fine display.

The New-Bridge players worked hard for the victory, but mention must go to their impressive season.

Victories over Tandragee JHS and a wintery win against Armagh City HS, were followed up with a win against close rivals Banbridge HS to reach the final.