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Killymoon Rangers 0
Castle Star 2
Friday 27th April 2018
Linda Welchman Cup Final
7:00 pm kick off @ Allen Park, Antrim
The much-anticipated Linda Welshman Cup Final took place on Friday night at Allen Park, with Killymoon Rangers hoping to create a little piece of history in their first year back in senior football.
The Cookstown side have won this cup once before, six years ago to be precise, and the new management team and players were very keen to bring home the silverware once again after an impressive run of cup results lead them this far
Unfortunately for Killymoon, they got off to the worst possible start, conceding a very early goal after a lapse in concentration allowed Castle Star striker Jonny Robb to capitalise and thump past goalkeeper Kyle Dobson inside the first 10 minutes.
The Killymoon back line of William Frizelle, Eoin Coyle and Jamie O'Neill gave themselves a shake and for the next fifteen minutes cleared any and all danger that came their way.
Both teams battled hard in midfield to gain possession, great tackles from Declan Campbell and David Frizelle helped ease some pressure, but Killymoon were really struggling to dominate and control the game like they have been doing throughout the course of the season.
Things went from bad to worse for the Cookstown side, as Castle Star piled on the pressure with a barrage of corners and crosses into the 18-yard box, and they finally got their reward. A poor clearance went only as far a Castle Star midfielder, and the player managed to strike low and hard from the edge of the box. Initially it looked to be heading wide of the mark, but somehow the ball fell kindly to the feet of Joel McMurtry who directed the pacey effort into the bottom opposite corner past the helpless Kyle Dobson. 2-0 to Castle Star.
Killymoon captain Richard Donaghy, along with management tried desperately to rally the team, and the men in blue began to fight back, with long range efforts from Warren Smith, and a free-kick from Stefan Shields going close, but failing to hit the net.
Finally, late in the first half, it looked like Killymoon's luck had turned, when the referee pointed to the spot following a deliberate hand ball in the Castle Star box which blocked a potentially dangerous crossed coming in from the left, after Richard Donaghy beat the right-back with ease.
Unfortunately for the captain, when he stepped up to take, his penalty effort was met by a great save by the in-form Castle Star goalkeeper, who was arguably the man of the match on the day. This failed penalty conversion meant Killymoon went into half time 2-0 down, and a stern team talk and reshuffle was needed for the second 45 minutes.
Killymoon began the second half with much more determination and had several meaningful attacks in the first ten minutes, resulting efforts from Robert Allen and Ryan Smith unfortunately lacked enough power to get the Cookstown side on the scoresheet, but the midfield men continued to work tirelessly for their team in the middle of the park.
Stuart Donaghy went closest on sixty minutes after connecting well with a low Warren Smith cross. Unfortunately for the front man the Castle Star goalkeeper was again in the right place at the right time and saved well at point blank range.
It seemed very much like one of those days for Killymoon Rangers, when very little in the final third seemed to be going right.
Killymoon continued to press high, and created some further half chances, but to no avail. All the football in the second half was played in Castle Star territory, but the Carrickfergus outfit held on well and game management was key as they slowed down the game at every possible opportunity and used all of their subs wisely.
It wasn't to be for Killymoon Rangers, and despite all efforts, the game finished 2-0.
The silver lining for Killymoon, will be that they have much bigger fish to fry in, in the way winning a league title in the coming weeks. With only three games remaining, one of which will be against Castle Star, where payback will be priority, Killymoon will be hoping to extend their four point lead at the top of Division 2, putting themselves in pole position for league glory.
Huge thanks are extended to every single supporter and family member that made their way to Antrim on Friday night via supporter's bus or by car. The committee, management and players really appreciated the fantastic turnout and support. Despite the result, it was a very enjoyable and long overdue day out for the club. The team hopes to repay the excellent support in our final few games of the season.

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