Ballymena 2
Derry City 1
Irish Cup (Semi final)

2 - 1
Derry City 

Irish Cup (Semi final)
Saturday, February 7th, 1931
Attendance: 16,170
3:00 PM Kick-off

James Gilmour (26)
Thomas Kilpatrick (42)
James McPherson (51)

Team Managers
Selection Committee
Joe McCleery

Starting Eleven
James McKean
Billy McCandless
John McNinch
David Nelson
Robert Stewart
David Reid
Joseph Cassidy
James Gilmour
Thomas Kilpatrick
John Murphy
Jamie Shiels
Fred Mason
Sam Montgomery
Con Hilley
James McPherson
J. Hughes
Samuel Curran
Tom McInally
Jimmy Kelly*


None. None.

None. None.

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

G. Davies (Bury) (Referee)

Match Report

Ballymena are surely of the stuff of which cup-fighters are made. By virtue of their merited victory over Derry City last Saturday, they earned the right to contest the final of the Irish Cup for the third successive time, and when it is remembered this is only their third season, that, indeed, is a record to be legitimately proud of.

They won the cup at the first attempt in 1928-29 when they defeated Celtic in the final by the odd goal in three; last year they were just out of luck to be defeated by Linfield in the final-tie by the odd goal in seven after Kilpatrick had been rendered unfit; and this year, what?

Well, again they meet Linfield, who gained a most decisive victory over Glentoran, and as Linfield and Ballymena are adjudged the best cup-fighters of all Irish League teams, the game should be one worth going a long way to see. Ballymena have beaten Linfield before, and what they have done before they can do again.

The Ballymena - Derry City semi-final attracted a bigger crowd to Cliftonville than was expected, the gate receipts amounting to £462. There were three or four special trains from Derry, and two from Ballymena, so that each side had a good voluble support.

After a few fast Derry raids play became evenly divided for a period, but for twenty minutes before the interval Ballymena played splendid football and were easily the superior team, and worth their two-goal lead at the interval.

Derry resumed with remarkable vitality, and for twenty minutes or so gave Ballymena all they wanted, and a little more, for McPherson reduced the lead. Anything might have happened during this period of attack, but a steady defence, including McKean in goal, kept the Derry score down to one. Ballymena eventually took the game in hand again, but erratic shooting robbed them of further goals.

A great cheer went up as Ballymena took the field, but Derry City's appearance was the signal for an even greater outburst of cheering and hand-clapping, showing that they carried a very good support. Ballymena's partisans let themselves loose a second time when it was seen that Davy Reid, the popular captain, had won the toss, which was taken as a good omen.

Then all the pent up excitement of the last few days broke loose as the ball was set in motion and the great struggle began. Ballymena worked their way towards the Derry goal but Derry were quick to retaliate, and just as McPherson and Hughes were getting dangerous McCandless 'handled' just outside the penalty line.

In the subsequent exchanges McKean saved from Curran. Then Cassidy set the Ballymena forward line going, leading up and pushing the ball out to Kilpatrick, who, however, was beaten for possession by Williams. Derry's next attack was spoiled by Curran being pulled up for offside, a class of offence which upset his tactics more than once.

McCandless, who was watching the fast Derry right wing very ably, cleared his lines well and put Stewart in possession, the latter firing in a shot on his own which Henderson coped with. Curran was almost through at the other end but McCandless dogged his footsteps so well that all the Derry leader was able to do was to shoot very erratically. Shouts of delight went up from the Ballymena spectators when Cassidy led McInally a merry dance and belted the ball right across the field to the left wing.

Another tussle between Curran and McCandless ended in a free against the Ballymena man, and in the subsequent scramble Kelly was on the mark with a well-aimed shot, but McKean rose to the occasion. Still hanging about goal the Derry men brought danger, and when McPherson shot McKean saved, but the ball was bundled into the net, which was the signal for a great burst of cheering. Jubilation turned to dismay, however, when the referee awarded a free for a foul on McKean.

It was now Ballymena's turn to show what theyc ould do, and for the next few minutes they gave an exhibition of real football that was good to see, Cassidy and Kilpatrick co-operating in a series of promising movements which, however, were broken up time and again by an alert defence. In one of these encounters Kilpatrick blocked a clearance by Williams and sent in such a hot shot that all Henderson could do was to divert the ball over the bar for a corner from which Gilmour headed past.

The match was being fought out in real cup-tie style, and up to the present there was little between the teams. The game was twenty-six minutes old when James Gilmour drew first blood after the nicest passing bout of the whole match. It happened in this way, McNinch robbed Kelly and pushed the ball up to Kilpatrick who booted it in to Reid, the last-named placing for Shiels to dash up the field at an angle and push in a wonderful through pass to Gilmour, who, shooting from an awkward angle, beat Henderson all the way with a strong, clean shot. It was a splendid finish to a superb movement, and was greeted with full-throated yells of delight from the Light Blues' supporters.

Heartened by their success Ballymena set the pace for a time, Cassidy becoming conspicious for some clever work. At length Derry forced play to the opposite end, where a free was given against McNinch. McKean saved the shot and stepped nimbly aside as Curran charged in like someone demented and entangled himself in the back of the net.

Ballymena were soon hammering at Derry's gates again. Kilpatrick got across a good ball which Gilmour headed in, but Henderson picked up as Murphy was bounding in. The Derry goal withstood severe pressure in the next minute or two when Ballymena forced three quick corners. The Light Blues were easily on top now, and there were many breathless moments as they surged around goal. Stewart, who was playing a fine game, volleyed in a stiff shot which tested Henderson, and Gilmour had a try, but his long shot gave the goalie ample time to prepare for it.

At the end of forty-two minutes Ballymena went further ahead following an all-along-the-line movement in which, after a shot by Cassidy had been blocked, Thomas Kilpatrick, who had come in, caught the ball on the bounce and crashed in a terrific left-foot shot from twenty yards out which beat Henderson to be wide, the ball hurtling into the roof of the net well out of the goalie's reach. It was an extraordinarily good goal, and one which again sent all the Ballymena supporters into raptures.

The Derry men were a back number at the moment. They tried to fight back, and Curran and Kelly looked like going through, but McCandless loomed up and jobbed them so neatly hat all they could do was to stand and stare at each other. Before the interval Kilpatrick was on the mark with another stunning shot, but Henderson was ready. Another corner to Ballymena left the score unchanged.

At the interval a board with the half-time score of the other semi-final, Linfield 4, Glentoran 1 - was carried around and met with rounds of applause. The same routine was followed at Celtic Park, and, judging by the reception the news of Ballymena's lead met with it was evident that it gave great pleasure.

Ballymena resumed vigorously, and Cassidy let Gilmour right through, but he hesitated fatally and let slip a great chance. Derry must have got some good advice at the interval, for after this they fought like men inspired, and though their display was not quite so polished as Ballymena's they kept pegging away so determinedly and so persistently that they put Ballymena off their game.

As the result of a misunderstanding between Reid and McCandless, McPherson broke through and passed to Curran who, with the goal at his mercy, shot across goal and struck the far upright. Meanwhile Kelly who had cut in and was lying almost up against the post, caught the ball on the rebound and piloted it into the net, but the referee rightly ruled that he was offside.

The Derry players hotly disputed the referee's decision, but Mr. Davies remained adamant. A couple of minutes later, however, the Derry forwards dashed up the field and after good combination by Kelly and Curran the ball went to James McPherson, who flashed in a beauty which left McKean no chance. This happened about six minutes after the resumption.

The Derry men continued to force the pace, but some crafty work by McCandless and McNinch put them offside on numerous occasions. Meantime Reid had fallen back to assist the defence and got through a vast amount of good work. Derry looked like equalising when Curran dashed off on a clear run through, but McKean threw himself full stretch at the ball and made a magnificent save.

McKean was called on in the next minute again, and in a scramble for possession Reid saved the situation at the expense of a corner. The Ballymena defence were undoubtedly hard pressed at the moment, but their coolness triumphed over the over-eagerness of the attackers.

Ultimately the pressure was eased Cassidy initiated a Ballymena attack which ended in Murphy testing Henderson. Then McInally drew applause with a shot which sailed about a foot over the bar. In another Derry attack Curran paid too much attention to McKean and came under the censure of the referee.

Ballymena made ground again and some lively play ensued round the Derry goal, but the defence was sound. Montgomery was hurt in a collision and went to the line, but soon resumed. McInally, also was in the wars, but he, too, was soon back in the fray.

Towards the close Ballymena made valiant efforts to increase their lead. Murphy presented Cassidy with a golden opportunity when he was only a few yards out, but Joe skied the ball wildly over. In the closing minutes McKean saved from Kelly, and later his good anticipation again stood in good stead. Ballymena were pressing strongly when the final whistle went.

Match report written by Ballymena Observer (13 February 1931)

Squad Statistics (as at February 7th, 1931)

1930-1931 All Time
James McKean (GK)24 13 - 16 -
Billy McCandless38 331331
John McNinch27 2911052
David Nelson27 252472
Robert Stewart24 321321
David Reid34 33 - 11411
Joseph Cassidy34 3177729
James Gilmour28 13181318
Thomas Kilpatrick35 172474
John Murphy32 24235736
Jamie Shiels22 19910081

League Table (as at February 7th, 1931)

Pld W D L Pts
1. Glentoran 26 22 3 1 47
2. Linfield 26 16 6 4 38
3. Belfast Celtic 26 16 4 6 36
4. Distillery 26 15 4 7 34
5. BALLYMENA 26 13 5 8 31
6. Ards 26 11 5 10 27
7. Derry City 26 10 4 12 24
8. Cliftonville 26 11 2 13 24
9. Portadown 26 7 5 14 19
10. Bangor 26 7 5 14 19
11. Glenavon 26 8 3 15 19
12. Coleraine 26 6 6 14 18
13. Larne 26 6 6 14 18
14. Newry 26 4 2 20 10