Ballymena 3 - 0 Coleraine

Irish Cup - Semi final
Saturday, February 9th, 1929, 3:00 PM at Windsor Park
Referee: W. McClean (Belfast)
Ballymena  Coleraine

Goalscorers
James McCambridge (15)
James Mitchell (31)
James McCambridge (57)
None.

Team Managers
Selection Committee
John McCandless

Starting Eleven
John Gough
Gordon McDairmid
John McNinch
David Reid
John Reid
Sidney Howard
James McCambridge
James Mitchell
Jamie Shiels
Richard Shaw
Walter Clarke
George Doherty
James Vincent
Alan McSeveney
Hugh Connolly
William Mears
Frank McLaughlin
Tom Morris
Dot Doherty
James Gilmour
Patrick Nelis
John Murphy

Last Saturday, by virtue of their decisive defeat of Coleraine in the semi-final of the Irish Cup at Windsor Park, was Ballymena's proudest day. To enter the final stage of what is perhaps the most important and popular competition in Irish senior football in the first year of their career is a distinction which any team might well envy.

This is what Ballymena have done, and the whole populace is proud of them, and metaphorically shakes them by the hand. Somehow, since Ballymena's return to form on the previous Saturday the members of the team and their supporters were imbued with a quiet confidence in the team's ability to beat Coleraine, and the result fully justified this. Large contingents travelled from Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, and surrounding neighbourhoods to Belfast, and the 'gate' at Windsor Park was quite a good one - £216.

Ballmena supporters looked upon it as a good omen when Davy Reid won the toss. However, Coleraine were first to make a flying attack, and Murphy was going well when McNinch who played a superb defensive game throughout the match, cut the effort short by a good tackle and sent to touch. For the first ten minutes of the game Coleraine's forwards were forceful, and it took Ballymena this length of time to get properly settled down. Meanwhile the Whites took advantage of Ballymena's unsettled form and made a series of rapid attacks, but against the stout defence of McNinch and McDiarmid all their efforts came to nought.

From a free taken by McDiarmid the ball went to Shiels, who pushed it forward, but McSeveney won the race and cleared to touch. The Coleraine left back stopped a try from D. Reid in the goal area the next minute. Coleraine made ground from a free, but Shiels captured the ball and eased the pressure. After McNinch had cleared his lines again, back came the Whites as eager as ever, but Doherty's shot went wide of the mark. Murphy and McNinch had another tussle, with the Ballymena back coming out on top, but at the expense of a corner.

Gradually Ballymena were finding their feet, and it was with pleasure that their their supporters saw Shiels and Shaw in a neat piece of combination, the former driving in a long shot which missed by inches. In the next minute McCambridge had a try, but his shot met with the same fate. Doherty saved in quick succession from Mitchell and Clarke, and then once more Coleraine had a look-in, but Gilmore's shot was erratic. A free to Ballymena just outside the penalty area raised hopes, but offside intervened. At the end of a quarter of an hour's play Ballymena were giving a brighter display and had the satisfaction of capping their efforts with a goal.

The movement was started by D. Reid, who passed neatly to his brother John, and the latter drew the defence and passed out to the wing for Clarke to middle beautifully, the ball dropping in front of the goal for McCambridge to net with a well-timed header. At this period Mitchell was on the line with an injured leg and did not resume for about ten minutes.

But Coleraine did not show any signs of letting their bone go with the dog. The front rank was quickly in action again and Gough was called on to stop a couple of tries from Gilmore and McLaughlin. A trio of corners gave the Whites the chances they were looking for, but the defence prevailed every time. The game was now swinging quickly from end to end, and both defences were hard worked. A nice wing movement on the Ballymena left ended McCambridge testing the Coleraine goalie.

Ballymena's second goal followed a throw-in, Howard eventually dropping the ball into centre where Mitchell scored with a first-timer. It was all done in a flash; Mitchell lifted his left foot and hit the ball with the inside of his boot, and the next thing we saw was the commotion in the rigging. It was a splendid effort, and was greeted with a perfect volley of cheers from delighted Ballymena supporters. Coleraine had been playing some pretty football but could not push their attacks home. Ballymena were now well in the picture, and with two goals to the good did not relax their efforts. They pounded away at the Coleraine defence, and only Shaw's hesitation on a few occasions prevented promising attacks developing into dangerous situations in front of the Whites' goal.

For the first time in the game the Coleraine forwards had McNinch and McDiarmid beaten when they bore down on the Ballymena goal, but Gough, with great prescence of mind, ran out and kicked clear. It was touch and go at the same end a minute later when Morris crossed in, and in a melee in front of goal with Gough and several other players on the ground, Gilmore would probably have scored, but the Ballymena goalie held him by the foot and so prevented him from rising.

Promptly the referee pointed for a penalty, and there was some reluctance on the part of the Coleraine players to take the kick until McSeveney came forward. Gough danced a jig in goal and caught McSeveney's shot neatly, sending the ball up the field amidst thunderous applause. Undoubtedly this was a turning point in the game. Whatever hopes Coleraine had, they were considerably lessened by this failure to score with a penalty.

Just before the interval Ballymena were once more at the Coleraine end, and Dohert stopped a shot from McCambridge, but the ball rolled on, and lying on the ground the goalie swept his arm right into goal and brought the ball out. From the stand the ball looked a good two feet over the line, and it certainly looked like it when McCambridge stood with outstretched arms and made no effort to lodge it in the net. But evidently the referee, who was up the field a good distance, did not see the incident clearly enough to cast out all doubt from his mind, and he ignored it. However, Ballymena had not to depend on a disputed goal.

Ballymena opened up spiritedly on the restart, but a free against J. Reid, for an offence which was not quite clear to the spectators, let Coleraine in, but McNinch again did the needful. A corner to Coleraine was followed by a scramble for possession in front of goal, in the course of which the pressure was eased by Ballymena received for free. But Coleraine came back again, only for Morris to send behind weakly. D. Reid opened up the way for Shaw, and the latter took the ball right along the wing, but hesitated at the last moment and Vincent hit the ball against him and it rolled past.

Shiels and D. Reid had shots in turn, and then Clarke lobbed in a magnificent centre and McSeveney handled. but the referee waved for the game to proceed, after the players had stopped in expectation of penalty. At this stage of the game Ballymena were playing splendid football - by far the best which had been seen during all the match - and for fully twenty minutes they had their opponents nonplussed.

During this period they scored their third goal, Clarke crossingly ably for McCambridge to score with a great shot which beat Doherty all the way. Afterwards the Light Blues continued their swinging game, and deftly played passes carried the play time and again to the goal area, where the backs got their fill of work. In one of these attacks Vincent conceded a corner, but the lines were cleared. There was a dangerous moment at the other end when Gilmore was almost through on a clear field and passed to Morris, who was running in, but McDiarmid got his head in the way and cleared. From a centre from Morris, McNinch gave away a corner, but the flag kick was sent behind.

Ballymena's next attack should have brought another goal, when Shaw after receiving from Shiels, ran right up to goal but shot high, and Doherty tipped the ball over the bar. At the opposite end Gough stopped a shot from J. Doherty, but later the goal had a narrow escape when Morris struck the upright, with Gough on the ground. A spell of attack by Ballymena was followed by another Coleraine raid, in the course of which Gough made a miraculous save with his head when rising from the ground and J. Reid cleared to touch.

The closing stages found Ballymena well on the ascendant, and they forced a further corner but to no effect.

Match report written by Ballymena Observer (15 February 1929)



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