The Raphoe 3rd XI topped a hugely successful season with a win over South Antrim at Stormont Hockey Grounds on Saturday past in the Ulster Cup final.
They overcame South Antrim in penalty flicks to lift the cup. Having won the league cup in January and gaining promotion in the league, winning the Ulster Minor cup was the perfect end to a great season says captain Don Pearson.
In a very competitive close encounter which ended 0-0, hit took extra time and penalties to decide the tie.
Despite the lack of goals, Raphoe’s travelling support were given plenty of entertainment and nervous moments in an end to end game. South Antrim started the game on top and controlled possession in the early stages.
They won several short corners which Raphoe defended well. Raphoe weathered the storm and worked their way into the game.
Luke Johnson and Jack Pearson were unlucky not to get a result in the attacking circle and the best chance of the first half fell to Alan Witherow, who flashed the ball narrowly wide of the left post during a well worked short corner routine.
At half time Raphoe were reasonably happy with their performance but knew they had to be more clinical in front of goal as the first to score in such a tight game, could be the differance.
The second half played out much the same as the first with both teams pushing hard for the opener.
Don Pearson and Will Curran kept things tight at the back for Raphoe and Andy McAuley and Tommy Mackey put in a good shift of work further up the pitch.
Raphoe thought they had finally broke the deadlock when Willie Magee’s slap hit from the top of the circle found the net, but the celebrations were cut short when the umpire disallowed the goal, deeming it to have been hit just outside the circle.
South Antrim had a late flurry of chances from short corners but again keeper Reece Gallagher and his backline defended well. The game ended 0-0. Two five minute halves of extra time were played to try to find a winner. But tiring legs saw the ten minutes go by without any clear cut opportunities on goal.
Penalty flicks would decide it. South Antrim scored their first and Don Pearson stepped up and matched them.
Raphoe were unlucky to see their next two flicks saved and South Antrim’s to find the net.
At 3-1 down with two penalties to go it did not look good for the Donegal men.
Against the odds however young keeper Reece Gallagher made two fine saves to keep his side in it.
Pressure now fell to Willie Magee and Jake Watt who had to score both of theirs. Magee found the backboard with ease and credit must go to schoolboy Jake Watt who had to retake his penalty, having gone before the whistle.
He showed great nerve to score again second time around. After five penalties it was all square at 3-3.
Back to South Antrim’s first taker again and he saw his flick saved by Gallagher’s stick. Captain Don Pearson had the cup in his hands if he could convert and he made no mistake with another fine penalty to lead his team to cup glory: A fitting end to a tremendous season for the Raphoe 3rd XI Men.
Raphoe: Reece Gallagher, Don Pearson (C), Will Curran, Peter Stewart, Allistair Mahaffy, Paul Stewart, Alan Witherow, Willie Magee, Dylan Boal, Tommy Mackey, Andy McAuley, Alan McCague, Gary Throne, Jack Pearson, Luke Johnston, Jake Watt. Coach – Sarah Boal.