Irish Cup: Ballynahinch United 0 v 1 Sirocco Works

United entertained Sirocco Works in this second round Irish Cup tie and went down by a single goal following a fairly dour encounter in which both teams created few scoring opportunities. Long periods of play were centred on the middle of the park with both defences coping with whatever was thrown at them. United had Simon Jackson back up front and Gavin Crawford restored to the centre of midfield.

United’s best chance of the first half came following a shot from Jackson which was superbly saved by the Sirocco keeper while Brain McMullan in the home goal got his fingers to a shot which he managed to get over the bar.

Sirocco took the lead in the 40th minute from a free kick after a foul by Davy Boal. The kick from near the by-line evaded Brian McMullan and seemed to go into the net of a forward who would have known little about it.

In the second half United pressed forward but they were unable to create any real openings. In the closing stages of the game Ian Boal was set free on the right side of the penalty area and as the Sirocco keeper ran out to block his path he clipped to ball goal ward. The home crowd were ready to cheer as the effort looked for all in the world to be going into the net but it bounced agonisingly wide of the post and into the side netting.

This week United travel to play Sirocco in a league game at Ballyskeagh.

IRISH CUP ROUND 1: Bangor Amateurs 2 v 3 Ballynahinch United

United continued their cup exploits with the third victory in a row in recent weeks.

For the management team and supporters this time it did not go to penalties although it was a late goal that decided the game.

United took the lead early in the first half when Simon Jackson scored however they found themselves behind by half time thanks to a flurry of goals from the home side.

Early in the second half United were level thanks again to Simon Jackson.

United created a number of opportunities in the second half however anxiety was creeping into the game for both sides as the game looked as if it was going into extra time. Thankfully the Ballynahinch contingent of supporters were spared further anxiety when new signing Lee Maxwell on his debut scored in the 87th minute to take United into the 2nd Round of the Irish Cup.

Colin Murray resigns as first team manager

The unexpected resignation of United manager Colin Murray came as a great shock to players, supporters and committee alike. Everyone at the club would like to express their sincere thanks to Colin for all the hard work and enthusiasm he gave to the role over his years at the helm. There were many highlights along the way but undoubtedly steering the team to the 5th Round of the Irish Cup and an unforgettable day out at Coleraine last year was one of the most memorable.

Colin however, and much to the delight of everyone, will remain at the club and will join the committee and work behind the scenes to take the club forward.

The club Committee are currently considering its options in respect of the appointment of a new manager and it hopes to have the matter resolved soon. It is very grateful to Keith Hamilton, Davy Teggarty and a number of the senior players for stepping into the breach and doing an excellent job.

Match Report: Coleraine 7 v 0 Ballynahinch United

Ever since the Irish 5th Round draw in mid December everyone at the Millbridge have been focused on the 12th January 2013 when they would have visited Danske Premiership team Coleraine. A score line of 7-0 while it is disappointing is no reflection of the experience that each and everyone associated with United enjoyed and that is exactly what they did.

At 10.30am the coach party containing the committee and players left Millbridge and after a short stop for breakfast in Cloughmills they arrived at the Coleraine Showgrounds.

Just before 3pm the two teams took to the field with United accompanied by a small army of youthful mascots. There was considerable excitement particularly amongst the visiting Ballynahinch United support which numbered in excess of 100 – an outstanding turnout for a small amateur club.

Very soon the referees whistle was blown and it was game on with United facing a full strength Coleraine such was the home teams determination to progress in this competition and not to be the victims of a giant killing.

From the outset Oran Kearney’s experienced team were on the attack spraying the ball across the pitch with precision. The most prominent player for the home team was Jamie Tomelty, a new signing from Portadown. For all their possession Coleraine never really caused United any serious problems with their defence of Boal, Bowman, Hayes, Brashaw and Herron working their socks off supported by midfielders Carlisle, Hunter, Stuart McMullan and Cheevers. Brian McMullan’s handling was superb while he made a number of excellent saves in the first half particularly one from Curtis Allen which took a wicked deflection of Hayes and as it dipped under the bar he palmed it over the cross bar.

United were not without their attacking opportunities with a Hunter free kick against the Coleraine defensive wall and a Stuart McMullan shot flashing across the face of goal. Lone forward Ian McMullan worked tirelessly up front and received a fair degree of physical attention from the experienced Coleraine central defensive pairing of Beverland and Ogilvy.

The half time whistle came and as both teams headed for the changing room United did so to a resounding chorus of cheers from their supporters while the Coleraine faithful were somewhat muted in their support fearing a potential upset might be on the cards.

The opening exchanges of the second half were much the same as the first however in the 51st minute everything changed when a delightful through ball was dummied by Allen and as it fell to his strike partner Harkin he placed it into Allen’s path which he slotted into the net out of the reach of McMullan’s outstretched hand.

In the 56th minute United found themselves 2-0 down and worse still a man down after Davy Boal was red carded for an off the ball tussle in the penalty area with McIlmoyle the Coleraine player escaping any punishment. Ruairi Harkin scored from the resulting penalty.

Manager Colin Murray introduced substitute Jay Smyth for the injured Ian McMullan but with a man down it was to be one way traffic. During the remainder of the game Scott McKibbin replaced JJ Carlisle and McCauley Foster came on for Adam Herron.

Heroic defensive displays by Hayes and Brashaw at the centre of a besieged United defence could not save the day even though Brian McMullan produced at least five world class saves.

In the 65th minute United had legitimate claims for a penalty when a shot appeared to come of a Coleraine defender’s hand but the referee waived away the claims.

Coleraine with the wind in their sails pressed home their superiority in every respect and they scored another five goals through Paul Owens, Stephen Lowry [2] the first of which was an absolute pile driver, another Ruairi Harkin penalty and Coleraine’s very own Stewart McMullan with his first ever competition goal.

While United were probably glad to hear the final whistle they nevertheless had given a good account of themselves and their efforts were recognised by their fans with a standing ovation from both home and visiting fans.

The Irish Cup adventure may be over but the important games are certainly not as they face local rivals Temple Rangers at the Millbridge in the first round of the Clarence Cup. The kick off is at 1.30pm.

Irish Cup 5th Round Photos