Ballymena 2 - 1 Belfast Celtic

City Cup Match
Saturday, February 16th, 1929, 3:00 PM at Ballymena Showgrounds
Referee: H. Hull (Burnley)
Ballymena  Belfast Celtic

Goalscorers
James Mitchell (12)
Joseph Cassidy (22)
Paddy Lennon (49)

Team Managers
Selection Committee
Austin Donnelly

Starting Eleven
John Gough
Gordon McDairmid
John McNinch
David Reid
John Reid
James McCambridge
James Mitchell
Jamie Shiels
Joseph Cassidy
Richard Shaw
Walter Clarke
Jack Diffin*
J. Wallace
Bertie Fulton
Paddy Lennon
Samuel Moore
William Pollock
Edward Weir
Peter Gallagher
Samuel Curran
Stanley Mahood*
Jack Mahood*

The visit of Belfast Celtic in the City Cup competition drew a big crowd to the Ballymena Showgrounds on Saturday last, over 800 alone travelling from the city by special train, while many came by bus and other conveyance. Owing to the keen frost it was deemed advisable to have the ground inspected early in the day but the referee declared it playable.

Both teams had a great reception. Moore won the toss and Shiels started with Celtic facing the sun. Diffin had to handle a soft shot in the first half minute. Still inside the first minute Celtic got down and McNinch missed the ball on the bounce to let S. Mahood in but he was very wide with his effort at goal. J. Mahood was going through again when pulled up for 'hands'.

Celtic still kept up the pressure and Gough had to show his paces in a shot from Curran. Ballymena now had an innings and following a free against S. Mahood, Diffin had to handle twice with Shiels on top of him. At the other end McDiarmid hesitated on the slippy ground and let in Curran who tipped to Weir, but the latter sent clean across the goal and into touch on the far side.

So far Celtic were having rather the best of it territoriality but Ballymena came away per Clarke, who sent in to Mitchell, the latter turned it further to Shiels who was beaten for possession but Mitchell connected again and opened the score with a hard drive twelve minutes from the start.

Play raged from end to end on resuming and in Celtic raids Curran and J. Mahood sent over and then at the other end Shaw had hard lines in hitting the upright with the Celtic defence tied in a knot. Both Diffin and Shiels were laid out together hereabouts and play was stopped for a period. The two resumed however, and Wallace fly kicked to touch when the Celtic defence were hard-pressed.

A nice cross from Clarke saw Cassidy head over. Ballymena still kept going strong and after Diffin had fisted clear a hard shot from Shaw, Clarke returned and Mitchell sent to Cassidy, who fired in a great shot which beat Diffin all the way for Ballymena's second goal. This was 22 minutes from the start and a minute after resuming Shiels sent past a foot on the wrong side of the upright.

Two corners fell to Celtic in quick succession but a by-ball relieved the pressure on the home goal and play reverted to the other end, where Diffin had come far out to meet a long pass ahead from J. Reid. Ballymena were still enjoying the advantage territoriality and when Celtic did get down through a slip on the frozen ground by the home defence the Celts finished weak, Curran on one occasion with a long shot almost finding the corner flag.

In the course of a home attack Wallace conceded an abortive corner, but Ballymena were quickly back after the clearance and Mitchell sent across the goal-mouth and out. Celtic now made things hum in the home end and a free against John Reid saw Gough saving at he post with Gallagher on top of him. The latter was adjudged offside, but the free only brought temporary relief for the Celts were quickly back.

The home defence was equal to all emergencies, however, and kept their lines intact. J. Mahood, racing in the wing looked a scorer but struck the side net from close range. At the other end Cassidy, in front of an open goal, sent high over with a left-foot drive. Play was in the Celts' end when the interval arrived.

Excitement was intense on resuming, and there was a chorus of 'Ohs!' when S. Mahood sent across the home goal, and Gallagher, in trying to turn the ball in at the post, lifted it high over. Celtic were penalised in their own end and J. Reid lifted the ball into the Celtic goal, where Cassidy just got to it, but also lifted it over the bar. So far honours were very even, and play was at midfield until the Celts progressed and McNinch just scraped the ball away in time from Curran.

The ball went out to Lennon, who shot hard through a forest of players, and found the net, Gough never getting a glimpse of it until afterwards. This was a bare four minutes from the restart, and fast as the play had been ensuing play was faster still, with Celts slightly the better side, but Weir, when well placed sent high over. At the other end Clarke turned the ball in to Mitchell, who sent past.

Then Celts attacked, and J. Reid had to concede a corner. This was cleared, and Clarke and Mitchell carried play into the visitors' end, only to be sent back. Then Shaw and Cassidy came away. The latter sent out to Clarke, who lobbed the ball on to the crossbar and over for a by-kick. Ballymena were now having an innings, and the visitors' defence were having a gruelling time.

Shiels looked like racing through, but sent too far ahead, and Wallace cleared to touch. A Celtic attack fizzled out in a goal kick, Gallagher being unable to turn the ball in with McNinch in close attendance. The pace was still as hot as ever, the ball travelling with great rapidity from end to end. Ballymena were attacking when Pollock gave away a free, the place kick being spoiled by Shiels handling.

A foul against D. Reid led to some unpleasantness and in the course of a melee there was a suspicion of fisticuffs, calling for the intervention of the referee, who harangued the players. Another foul, this time against Celtic, followed, and the game continued to be fought out with spirit by both sides, with the excitement intense. A Celtic attack fizzled out when the ball went past. A long kick ahead and across by Clarke saw Shaw and Diffin converging from opposite directions, and though Diffin got their first, he went down under Shaw. The latter was penalised, but McNinch returned the 'free'. Play, however, reverted to the other end in the last minute, where Celtic forced a corner, but Gallagher headed the flag kick over, and the final whistle sounded immediately.

Match report written by Ballymena Weekly Telegraph (23 February 1929)



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