MONEYSLANE travelled to Holm Park, Armagh last Friday night to lock horns with Ballymacash in the Alan Wilson Cup final and they were greeted by between 400-500 supporters, chanting their names and acting as the twelfth man from the sidelines.
Slane were up for this historic encounter and Tommy Lockhart had an effort go wide of the target in the first minute.
John Davenport was upended and the referee for the game, Paul Burns, blew for a free kick. Lockhart’s delivery was inch perfect and Andy Moore rose high but his header glanced just wide of the target.
The league leaders were playing the ball well out from defence and trying to probe away through a solid Slane defence marshalled by Aaron Marks. He was a tower of strength alongside Gary Porter, John Davenport and Robbie Weir.
On the quarter Slane could have taken the lead when Tommy Lockhart was played in by the hard working Chris Kerr and he nipped past the last defender. Tommy shimmied around the keeper who stuck out a foot to rob him as he was about to convert.
Nigel Fry pulled off a fantastic save when he came off his line and pushed the ball around the post with a one handed save to deny Kenny Campbell the opening goal.
Lockhart was seen as a danger and big threat for Slane. He was emptied in the middle of the park and the ref pulled out the yellow card - it could easily have been a red for the two footed tackle.
Ashley Beck then had an effort going goal bound and again Fry was well positioned to save and deny Cash’s best player on the park. Kyle Friars hit from distance but his effort sailed wide of the mark.
Chris Kerr was immense in the middle of the park throwing himself into every tackle with conviction and heart and Andy Moore was strong in the air winning the aerial tussles.
Slane maestro Aaron Marks was a mammoth solid structure at centre back, timing every tackle to perfection. Young Robbie Weir who never lets the team down with his aggressive attitude and commitment was inspirational at right back and John Davenport was covering a lot of ground tracking up and down the flank to keep John Gibney at bay.
Jonny Whitten was played in on the half hour and again the Ballymacash keeper, Jason Campbell came to their rescue to save well and deny Slane the opening goal.
Gibson and Whitten were a real threat to Cash and they were hitting hard in some crunching tackles. Slane captain Gareth Bingham was leading by example and covering every blade of grass on the bumpy Holm Park
Slane were on top and should have been in the lead and had another great chance to do so, Weir played the ball up the right to Whitten and he found Jason Gibson with a defence splitting pass and Gibson had just the keeper to beat but his shot across the face of goal went the wrong side of the up right.
Gareth Bingham and Jonny Whitten were combining well in the middle of the park and the later was unfairly challenged. Burns awarded a free kick and produced a yellow.
The supporters were loud and were roaring on their team in full voice and outnumbered the opposition four to one.
Ballymacash were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position but Gary Porter was well placed to clear the danger as the game swayed to a fro from one side of the pitch to the other in a pulsating first half.
Slane started brightly in the second half and Lockhart curled an effort wide of the upright. Jonny Adair replaced Jason Gibson and he slotted into centre forward position.
Nigel Fry tipped an effort over the bar for a corner to Cash which was swung deep into the penalty area but it was cleared by Weir at the back post.
Lockhart stepped up to take a free kick 25 yards out with a clear view of the target but his effort whizzed inches wide.
David Boyd replaced the hard working Davenport as fresh legs were brought onto the pitch and the cool Boydo was immediately in the thick of it hitting a crunching tackle on Campbell.
Fry was again called into action and he again produced the goods when called upon saving well low to his right.
Both teams were working hard all over the park and cutting out each other’s ideas in attack and the game had stalemate written all over it.
The whistle blew for full time and the game entered extra time.
Both teams were slowing down, such was the effort they put into the game and there were some tired legs on the pitch.
Cash had two shots go wide and Gareth Bingham squared to Whitten and his effort went wide of the target the first half ended scoreless.
In the second half of extra time both teams sat back and seemed to settle for a penalty shoot out.
Lockhart hit his effort with venom but Campbell was well positioned to catch.
The game went to penalties and first up was Lockhart for Slane and his effort sailed over the bar giving an advantage to Cash but Aaron Cummins hit a carbon copy spot kick over the bar.
The coolest player on the pitch David Boyd made no mistake hitting low to the keeper s left but Daryl Magee levelled the score going into the same corner.
Andy Moore stepped up and drilled hard and low to the right and into the net and Stuart Orr again levelled the game going in the opposite direction.
Slane captain Gareth Bingham was next to eyeball the Cash keeper from 12 yards out and he hit with power driver straight up the middle over the diving Campbell, but again Cash were level when Ashley Beck went to Fry’s right. The keeper got a fingertip touch but was unable to get a solid hand behind the ball and again it was level
Jonny Adair was Slane fifth spot kick taker and he went to the keeper’s left but Campbell guessed right and got down low to save and put Cash in demanding position. Kyle Friars stepped up and made no mistake slotting the ball home to give Ballymacash the win.
Parnalties are a cruel and tough way to lose in a cup final but fair play to all concerned on the pitch for Slane who gave their all and the club could ask for nothing more than that.
Best for Slane on the night was Aaron Marks at centre back. The young man never put a foot wrong the whole game, throwing himself into every tackle and played the second half with a nasty gash above the eye.
The club would like to thank all the loyal supporters who travelled to Armagh, getting behind them from start to finish. A special mention to all the junior section kids who played at half time and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Slane team: Nigel Fry, Robbie Weir, Aaron Marks, Gary Porter, John Davenport, Andy Moore, C Kerr, G Bingham, Jonny Whitten, Jason Gibson, Tommy Lockhart, David Boyd, Neil Bingham, Ryan Shilliday, Jonny Adair.
Ballymacash team: Jason Campbell, William White, Gavin Jess, Andy Patterson, Jonny Hanna, Kyle Friars, Aaron Cummins, Ashley Beck, Kenny Campbell, John Gibney, Stuart Orr, Nathan Friars, Chris Edgar, Danny McDowell, Daryl Magee, Paul Agnew.