Evergreen A 1
Newpark A 0
Evergreen have won the KCLR McCalmont Cup for a record-breaking seventeenth time after they defeated a spirited Newpark side on Friday night at Derdimus Park.
In a tight and cagey affair, the game hinged on a single moment. With less than ten minutes remaining, referee Vinny Kiely deemed Newpark right back Stuart Delaney had handled the ball inside the box. Kiely pointed to the spot. Deserved or not, Newpark’s protests were in vain as the surprisingly anonymous but ever classy Mikey Drennan stepped up to send ‘keeper Darren Rowe to his left as the ball nestled nicely in the opposite bottom corner.
Irrespective of whether the penalty should or should not have been awarded, Newpark were more than worthy of at least taking the game to extra time against three-in-a-row winners Evergreen. They set up to frustrate the champions by placing men behind the ball. That tactic did not deter them from being an attacking force, however.
They had the first chance of note fifteen minutes into the opening period when striker Matty Holohan scuffed his shot wide after it fell to the number ten on the edge of the box. Despite the sustained periods of possession in their opponent’s half, Evergreen failed to find the cutting edge that they are so often associated with. They did manage to test goalkeeper Darren Rowe for the first time midway through the first half when Sam Hickey got to the end line and found his captain Seán Barcoe with a cut back. Rowe saved well at his near post from Barcoe’s effort.
While the opening quarter certainly belonged to Evergreen in terms of possession and territory, Newpark began to make inroads as the half continued after a much-needed water break on an incredibly hot evening at Derdimus.
Their first, and the game’s first big chance came when Joey Walsh found himself on the edge of the box with only Evergreen shot-stopper Philly Johnson to beat. Johnson saved well with his feet but if Walsh had put it either side of the ‘keeper, Newpark could have got the all-important first goal.
Gary Maher’s side ended the half the better of the two sides. They slightly upped the tempo after a sluggish start as the first half ushered towards its conclusion. However, they could not take advantage of a flurry of late corners as Newpark held firm to deservedly keep the game goalless at the break.
Much like the opening exchanges of the first forty-five minutes, Evergreen gained control of the game with Newpark happy to sit in, soak up the pressure and hit on the break. Left back Hickey shot from distance but Rowe managed to push a powerful attempt that bounced in front of him around the post.
Evergreen full back Tommy Earls received what looked a harsh yellow card for a foul on substitute Jack Sheridan. The incident, which took place right in front of both management teams, sparked a heated argument between both dugouts. The teams’ respective managers had now caught up with the edge that their sides had brought to the game.
Newpark once again had a glorious opportunity to take the lead when a Jack Sheridan corner found the head of man of the match Jack Poyntz. He headed over from six yards. The Bogsiders would come to rue their missed chances in a game of very few clear goal scoring opportunities.
Evergreen manager Maher attempted to regain control of a game that was not going his side’s way when he brought on Jamie Owens for Dean Cornally with twenty minutes left to play. The personnel change was to prove key as Newpark failed to create while Evergreen finally moved up through the gears.
Evergreen’s centre forward Seán Barcoe found Mikey Drennan when he chipped a delightful ball over the top of the Newpark defence. Through on goal, the former Shamrock Rovers, St. Patrick’s Athletic and Sligo Rovers player uncharacteristically pulled his shot wide.
However, the talented Drennan was not to be denied from the spot five minutes later as he converted a contentious penalty.
Ecstasy for Evergreen as they clinch a record breaking seventeenth KCLR McCalmont Cup title to add to their Pat Maher Shield victory. For Newpark it was devastation as they lost their second cup final in less than a week to their city rivals after a 3-1 defeat to Evergreen B in the Division One Cup final last Sunday.