Ballymena 3 - 1 Newry Town (City)

Irish Cup - Semi final
Saturday, February 8th, 1930, 3:00 PM at Solitude
Referee: W. McClean (Belfast)
Ballymena  Newry Town (City)

Goalscorers
Joseph Cassidy (30)
James McCambridge (67)
John Murphy (75)
William Lyness (3)

Team Managers
Selection Committee
Selection Committee

Starting Eleven
John Gough
David Nelson
Gordon McDairmid
David Reid
Sidney Howard
James McCambridge
Jamie Shiels
John Murphy
Jonathan Dalrymple
Joseph Cassidy
Thomas Kilpatrick
Alex McMinn
Moore
McVeigh
William Hobbs
Mick Short
Cornelius Coyle
Fred Dennett
Frank Rushe
William Lyness
Eddie Carroll
J. Feenan

"Record Breaking Ballymena's Second Irish Cup Bid" This was the heading in large black type across one of the sporting pages of the 'Daily Mail' on Monday.

This sentence sums up in a few words one of the greatest achievements in the history of Irish Football. For the second season in succession - and they are only in the second season of their career - Ballymena have entered the final stage of the Irish Cup, surely a record that stands unparalleled.

Last year they reached the final stage stage and won the coveted trophy through sheer merit alone and nothing else, and the same statement applies, but even in greater degree, to the herculean efforts through which they have won their way to the final this year.

True, they have not yet won the cup this season, but their hopes of doing so run high. If these are realised they will have achieved their most cherished ambition, and at the same time have created another record which we feel sure will remain unbroken for longer than we need to count.

On Saturday last Ballymena met Newry in the penultimate stage of the competition, and, as was generally expected, the Light Blues triumphed. Newry threw a veritable bombshell into the Ballymena camp by scoring in the first three minutes, a totally unexpected occurrence, This set back had almost magical effect on Ballymena, for they then went all out for the equaliser, and although on the run of play in the first half they were worth at least three goals they could only find the net once, so staunch was the Newry defence, coupled with McMinn's superb custodianship.

For the first quarter of an hour in the second half Newry went at it hammer and tongs, giving the Ballymena defence an anxious time, but in the succeeding stages of the game the Reds were a spent force. Ballymena settled down to their usual game, and good football, as against out and run tactics, won the day.

In the other semi-final Glentoran gave Linfield a severe shock, the Glens leading by a goal up to within eight minutes of time. But Linfield made a splendid pull out, first Bambrick and then McCaw scoring. The gate receipts at this match amounted to £1,100, and at the Ballymena-Newry match £219. These 'gates' are pooled and divided equally between the contestants.

Good luck to 'Hoodie' McCambridge, Ballymena's inside-left, who has been again selected for international duty, this time for Ireland against Scotland on Saturday 22nd at Glasgow. We all hope that he will add to his good reputation.

Winning the toss, Newry set Ballymena to face the sun. The men from the Border town were first to attack, but Ballymena retaliated with a fast run to the opposite end, where Murphy shot just over the bar. The Newry forwards swept up the field again, and with the sun shining straight in his eyes Davy Reid failed to stem the attack, and before the defence could function properly Lyness fired in a low, oblique shot, and in a trice Gough was retrieving the ball from the back of the net.

A big red and white flag was flourished with rare gusto by a Newry supporter on the unreserved side, and the frontiersmen were wild with delight at such a promising opening.

Thus in the early stages Ballymena were faced with an uphill fight, and the rushing tactics of the Newry men had an unsettling effect. Gough was called on to save from Dennett, and in the next minute Newry received a corner, but danger was averted.

Up to the moment the Newry men had had good say in the game, but gradually Ballymena got settled down, and from now on on they did the greater part of the attacking. However, with all their craft and all their wiles they could not cap their efforts with a goal, the stout Newry defence, aided by the halves, and having a fine last line in McMinn, keeping them at bay.

Shiels opened up the way for Cassidy to send in a pile-driver, but the shot was blocked. Then McCambridge had a try for goal, only to send a yard wide. Time after time the Ballymena forwards fought Newry back into their goal area, but every available man with the exception of about two forwards crowded into the defence.

The Light Blue forwards thus found it almost impossible to break through superior numbers, try how they would. Once McCambridge headed into goal, but he was so far out that the goalie had plenty of time to prepare for the try. Ballymena received a 'free' for a foul on Cassidy, and Reid took the kick, following which there was a scramble in front of goal, but nothing of consequence happened.

There was any amount of dash and piquancy in the exchanges, and as the teams struggled fiercely the excitement grew in intensity. A sharp attack on the Newry left found Howard stumbling, but Nelson came to the rescue. Another 'free' to Ballymena, taken by Reid, let Shiels away on a straight run for goal, but just as he was about to shoot McMinn dived full length at his feet and so saved what otherwise would have been a certain goal.

As yet Kilpatrick was getting little to do, but now he tore away up the wing and forced a corner, and in the ensuing melee Reid shot over the bar by inches. Kilpatrick was brought down in his next run and another 'free' was awarded. This was followed by yet another a couple of minutes later.

Such pressure was bound to tell sooner or later, and at last a belated score came when Cassidy turned a beauty into the net from Murphy's corner. Ballymena's 'war song' rang out, and the Newry flag ceased to wave.

Still attacking in the same ardent spirit, Ballymena came near taking the lead when Cassidy lobbed in another great shot, which McMinn was the saviour of his side. Howard slipped a lovely pass to Murphy, who eluded all opposition, but the Newry goalie came running out of his charge and eased the pressure.

At last Newry shook off the attack and rushed forward with great gusto, but the movement had a tame ending, Reid getting possession and sending the ball back to Gough, who cleared. Murphy again made headway on the Ballymena left, beating one opponent after another until he was fouled. Reid took the 'free', and sent the ball sailing a few inches over the bar.

In the next Newry attack Nelson did some effective work, beating both men on the left wing. Dalrymple repeatedly changed defence into attack, playing a sterling game at right half, while Reid was always the big man of his side, his generalship being superb at all times. In the closing stages of this half Shiels sent in a ground shot which the goalie dealt with nimbly.

On the resumption Newry went about their work in determined fashion, and for the first quarter of an hour gave the Ballymena defence a gruelling time. Early on they forced a corner, from which Gough saved from Feenan. A 'free' let Murphy away on the left and he volleyed in a well-aimed drive for McMinn to push the ball out a few yards in front of goal, but there was no one up to take advantage of the opportunity.

Shiels dashed up the middle on a fast run and sent to Murphy, who made a quick return, the attack ending in Shiels missing by inches. These Ballymena runs were only spasmodic affairs, Newry keeping up a running attack which brought great danger in its wake. But the Border men were not good finishers, else they might have taken the lead at this point.

Another Ballymena attack was stopped short by foul tactics again, and from the kick Reid dropped the ball nicely in front of goal, but McMinn reach it first. Then Shiels turned in an oblique shot which the goalie failed to hold, conceding a corner, which made no change in the score. Play veered to the opposite end again, and in a dangerous moment Gough ran out and kicked clear.

Newry maintained the pressure, however, but eventually the ball came out of a ruck of players McCambridge showed his paces, but was checked by more shady tactics. In the next minute Murphy crossed the ball in neatly to Cassidy, who sent wide, with the goalie out of his charge.

Newry were still dangerous in their attacks, their disconcerting tactics putting Ballymena off their game completely at times. Howard eased the pressure when everything seemed likely to happen. When Shiels was making tracks for goal McVeigh brought the ball down with his hand, but the incident evidently escaped the referee's notice.

The Border men again made their presence felt, forcing a corner on the right, but Howard got the ball clear in a difficult moment. They returned to the attack, however, and in the course of bustling exchanges Nelson was injured and had to retire to the line for attention. His re-appearance five minutes later was greeted with rounds of appluase and Ballymena's supporters had their confidence restored.

Shiels was brought down by Moore a few feet outside the penalty area, and from the resultant 'free' came a corner; from this Kilpatrick lifted the ball in beautifully and McCambridge gave Ballymena the lead with a great header. Flushed with success, Ballymena settled down to give one of their usual good displays, and from now up to the end their virtually monopolised the play.

Reid placed for Murphy to lob in a dropping shot, and just as Shiels was about to have a try for goal McMinn ran forward and put the ball safely out of the danger zone. At the opposite end Dalrymple cleared almost on the goal line when Newry were working hard for the equaliser. Then Shiels dashed away on one of his characteristic runs, with both backs at his heels. McMinn saw the danger and advanced to meet him and Shiels shot and the ball glanced off the goalie for a corner.

In the scuffle both Shiels and McMinn were injured, but they resumed after receiving attention. Murphy took the flag-kick and Reid headed narrowly over the bar. Cassidy had equally hard lines with a header a few minutes later.

Fifteen minutes from the end Kilpatrick placed another corner kick accurately and Murphy hooked the ball into the net with a first-timer, the ball never touching the ground from the time Kilpatrick hit it until Murphy had it in the net. Ballymena were on safe ground now, but like wise men they did not fall back and play a defensive game. They kept on rattling away at the Newry goal, and only McMinn's agility prevented a further score.

From a corner Reid missed by an inch when the goalie was beaten to the world. In the closing minutes Newry had a spasm of attack, in the course of which Dennett struck the upright, but Nelson cleared well. From now up to the end Ballymena gave a delightful display of football, their polished tactics contrasting favourably with the cruder football of their opponents.

Match report written by Ballymena Observer (14 February 1930)

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