Seconds go out with a bang at Ferris Park

DROMORE Amateurs Seconds, sponsored by McDonald’s Mace, brought the curtain down on the 2011/12 season with a winning performance at Ferris Park on Saturday, edging out their opponents Carryduff 3-2 in a close-fought contest.

There wasn’t much to choose between these two sides over the course of 90 minutes but perhaps it was Dromore’s winning determination in coming from behind twice which eased them over the finishing line to claim three points.

In a hectic, four-goal first half, Carryduff stunned the hosts by going 1-0 up on 10 minutes but the Amateurs were soon back on level terms after Colin Harper caused all sorts of confusion at the back post and his headed effort was eventually bundled into the net.

Dromore midfielder Stuart Curran rattled the crossbar with a strike from distance but it was Carryduff who again snatched the lead when slack marking in the Amateurs defence allowed the striker to head home.

Dromore knew it was important to get an equaliser before the half-time whistle - and their second goal was a real beauty. Curran played in Aaron Noble who swung over his trademark cross to the back post and young Michael Cichy almost burst the net with a cracking volley.

After the interval, Carryduff squandered a golden opportunity to regain the lead when they missed a penalty - and they were made to rue that miss when Dromore took the lead for the first time in this ding-dong encounter after Noble’s cross was turned into the net by an unfortunate Carryduff defender.

Dromore came under sustained pressure in the closing stages but, marshalled by Russell Ward, the home side preserved their 3-2 advantage until the final whistle.

Team: B Coulter, D Gibson, R Ward, G Hill, C Harper, A Noble, P Smith, M Beattie, S Curran, N Walsh, M Cichy. Subs: A McCartan, P Magill.

Saturday’s victory was a most satisfactory way to round off the season for Dromore Amateurs Seconds. The team really hit form at the end of January, starting with a 4-2 victory away to Suffolk Swifts, and going on a tremendous run of results which saw them unbeaten in 10 of their last 12 league games.

Indeed, Dromore were odds-on to add further to this points haul with their final game actually scheduled to be tonight (Tuesday, April 24) against Queen’s Colts - but the struggling students were booted out of the league last week after failing to fulfil two fixtures.

To add insult to injury, not only was Dromore’s campaign brought to a premature end but - like all relevant teams in the division - they were stripped of the three points they had collected after beating Queen’s earlier in the season.

The final league table has yet to be settled but Dromore Amateurs Seconds look certain to finish sixth (out of 13) in Division 3F of the Northern Amateur Football League with a record of P24 W11 D3 L10 GF41 GA45 Pts36.

Anyone who follows the fortunes of the Seconds will recognise that this league performance marks a significant improvement on recent years. The players deserve an enormous amount of credit for creating a great team spirit - which served them well when times were tough - and putting in some quality displays which saw them finish in a highly commendable league position.

Special praise, of course, must go to the mastermind behind all of this - coach Ronnie McMurray.

Managing a seconds team must feel like a solitary existence at times - particularly when you not only have to manage but referee the game as well!

Come hell or high water, Ronnie always got a team out, always encouraged his players to ‘get the ball on the deck’ and always told his defence to ‘forget about off-side’.

Such advice served them well and the players greatly appreciate Ronnie’s effort and commitment throughout the season.

Incidentally, 3F was won by Lower Shankill with 55 points. The Belfast men were tough and skilful opponents who lost just five games all season - one of which was to Dromore back in September.