Belfast Celtic 2 - 3 Ballymena

Irish Cup - Quarter final
Saturday, January 11th, 1930, 3:00 PM at Celtic Park
Referee: J. Bunting (Manchester)
Belfast Celtic Ballymena

Goalscorers
Tony Carroll (15)
Keiller McCullough (63)
Joseph Cassidy (40)
James McCambridge (67)
James McCambridge (88)

Team Managers
Archie Heggarty Selection Committee

Starting Eleven
Anderson
Wallace
Bertie Fulton
Samuel Moore
John Donoghue
Hugh Mooney
Tony Carroll
Keiller McCullough
McColgan
Jimmy Ferris
Mahood*
John Gough
David Nelson
John McNinch
David Reid
Sidney Howard
James McCambridge
Jamie Shiels
John Murphy
Jonathan Dalrymple
Joseph Cassidy
Thomas Kilpatrick

Ballymena the Irish Cup holders, are making a spirited bid to retain the Irish Cup, the most coveted trophy in Irish football. In the first round they were up against a stiff enough proposition in having to travel to Derry City, whom they defeated by the handsome score of four goals to one, a performance which augured well for their future prospects.

They faced a much tougher task last Saturday, however, when they travelled to Belfast Celtic in the second round, but again they emerged triumphant, this time by the odd goal in five, scored a few minutes from time by McCambridge, who this season is proving himself one of the most thrustful forwards in the Irish League. McCambridge is establishing something of a reputation for himself as a goal-getter, having scored no fewer than nine goals in the last four matches.

The match provided a thrilling duel, the big crowd, estimated at 21,000, being kept on tenter-hooks from start to finish. It was not a match which was characterised by any abnormal brilliance on the part of either team, but it was contested in typical cup-tie style with both teams stretching themselves to the limit.

Right up to within a few minutes of the end of the issue was in doubt, but at length McCambridge earned Ballymena the right to enter the semi-final by converting a beautiful placed corner by Kilpatrick with a header.

Celtic reaped a big andvantage in the first half by winning the toss and playing behind a helping breeze which blew from the mountain end. Ballymena, however, were first to get to close quarters, Howard leading up and crossing into Cassidy who walloped in a mighty shot, but Fulton got his head to the ball.

Lively play brought the Ballymena forwards up-field again, Kilpatrick trapping a neat pass from Cassidy and firing in a dangerous centre, but Anderson fisted clear with Shiels close by.

A swift attack by the Celts found the venue change quickly to the other end, where Carroll had a good individual run, but the bounce of the ball spoiled his final effort, the shot being badly misdirected. Celtic took all the advantage they could out of the breeze and were consequently able to confine play to the Ballymena end for a time, but with the exception of a shot by McCullough across goal there was hardly an incident of note in his spell of play.

The Ballymena defence, who had not yet settled down properly, had a busy time, but they managed to keep out the invaders. A break-away by Shiels was abruptly ended by Donoghue resorting to tactics which bore the stamp of brawn instead of brain, but the resultant 'free' did not get Ballymena anywhere.

A period of end-to-end play followed, attack being succeeded by counter-attack. Mahood got across a high shot which Gough handled well, and then at the opposite and Shiels let Murphy away for the first time, and the winger lobbed in a fast shot which almost scraped the bar. On the Celtic right wing Carroll was getting plenty to do. He volleyed in a pile-driver which Gough stopped and after the ball had been cleared Donoghue returned but Ferris failed to connect.

But Celtic were not having all the plums. On the Ballymena left Murphy made good use of a pass when he tricked Wallace and centred to Cassidy, who placed for Howard to miss by inches. Further pressure by Celtic brought danger to the Ballymena goal again, but Gough acquitted himself splendidly, once in particular when he dealt nimbly with a high shot.

But the Ballymena goal succumbed to the next Celtic attack. Ferris crossed the ball out to Carroll, who ran in and gave Gough no chance. Carroll looked suspiciously offside when the pass was sent out to him, but in spite of appeals on the spot by several Ballymena players the referee decided otherwise. Fifteen minutes of the first half had gone at this stage.

Celtic continued to play a forceful game, and were hauled up on several occasions for 'fouls'. The crowd held its breath at an incident which occurred just in front of the Ballymena goal. Nelson had worsted two opponent sand sent the ball back to Gough, but the goalie succeeded in clearing his lines in the face of great difficulty. Probably the Ballymena captain knew he was doing the right thing, but for a moment the position looked extremely shaky.

The first corner of the match, conceded by McNinch kept the spectators on the tip-toe of excitement, and when another followed close on its heels the strain almost reached breaking point, but Gough came to the rescue yet another time, saving a header from Donoghue. A 'free' to Celtic for 'hands' kept play in the Ballymena end, but Shiels and Kilpatrick transferred the scene of action to the Celtic quarters.

A centre by Murphy went a begging. Following a short-lived Celtic raid, Howard initiated a Ballymena attack. He slipped the ball deftly to Murphy, who turned in a lovely centre, and as the ball went careering along the ground Shiels let it pass below his foot to Cassidy who drove it home in class style, Anderson failing to stop the ball, although he touched it with his fingers.

This was the signal for a great outburst of applause from Ballymena's supporters, and there were may present. There were yet five minutes of this half to go, but the interval arrived with the score still 1-1.

With the wind in their favour in the second half, Ballymena had every chance of pulling off a victory. They tackled their task in earnest fashion, raiding the Celtic goal area repeatedly. Once when Cassidy was shaping for a shot Shiels marred the opportunity by his impetuosity, otherwise Ballymena might have taken the lead at this point.

Kilpatrick forced a corner off Fulton, and although the ball was cleared the Ballymena halves forced play to the Celtic end again, but Wallace foiled both McCambridge and Shiels. Play changed quickly from end to end after this. Mahood sent over at the Ballymena end, and then a fast run by Shiels ended in the ball rolling past the outside of the post, with Anderson lying full stretch on the ground. It was one of the narrowest shaves the Celtic goal had.

Gough ran out and made a timely clearance when McCullough was racing for oal, and a minute later he made a quick save, but the referee had blown or off-side anyhow. The Ballymena forwards went pell-mell for goal again, and Murphy sent in a great oblique shot, which seemed to be going straight for the net, but it flashed across goal with no one to put a toe on it.

The same player a moment later, from Cassidy's pass, sent in a flier which went narrowly over. The Celts fought their way into their opponents' quarters, and Carroll and McCullough each had a try, but both were off the mark.

In an exciting moment Gough tipped the ball over the bar for a corner. Then McCambridge crossed right over the field and had a great run along the right wing, beating one opponent after another, but all his work went for nothing.

At the end of eighteen minutes Celtic took the lead again. In a movement which commenced with Mahood crossing the ball to Carroll, the latter promptly centered to McColgan, who caused McNinch to turn a somersault and placed for McCullough to cap the effort with a good shot.

Ballymena made quick strides to the opposite end, where they had the hardest luck in not scoring, Shiels striking the bar and McCambridge hitting an upright. But the crowd had not long to wait for the equaliser. Within four minutes from Celtic's second goal Ballymena received a corner, and the ball went to Murphy, who turned it in neatly for McCambridge to lodge in the net.

It was a brilliant performance. Shortly after this Moore was hurt, but soon resumed play. The succeeding stages of the match were more than ever in the nature of a battle royal. Both teams exerted themselves to the last ounce. Shiels headed past by inches and when McCambridge also had a try with the head Fulton eased the pressure.

A 'free' to each side brought no material benefit. There was terrific excitement when Mahood converged on the Ballymena goal, but Gough came out and narrowed his range that the Celtic man could not shoot. However, he turned the ball in to McColgan, who had an untenanted goal at his mercy and who could have almost walked the ball through, but in the excitement of the moment he drove it fully a couple of yards on the wrong side of the upright, It was a glorious chance misused.

With only a few minutes to go Ballymena made a desperate final effort to get on top. Shiels went off again in a characteristic run and forced a corner from which Kilpatrick placed beautifully for McCambridge to head in the winning goal.

The Celtic players were clearly now at their wits' end, and in the ensuing passages tempers were frayed, some of the tackling of the home players being very robust. Nelson received a nasty injury and had to be carried off, McCambridge coming back to fill the vacancy.

There was a passage at arms between Kilpatrick and Donoghue and Mooney, but the Ballymena man knew how to hold his own. With only a minute or so to go, Celtic forced a corner, but the ball was cleared, and the final whistle came with Ballymena in the Celtic danger zone.

Match report written by Ballymena Observer (17 January 1930)

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