Belfast Celtic 2
Ballymena 2
City Cup

Belfast Celtic 

2 - 2


City Cup
Saturday, March 7th, 1931
Celtic Park
3:00 PM Kick-off

Stanley Mahood (65)
Jack Coulter (87)
James Gilmour (30)
James Gilmour (43)

Team Managers
Archie Heggarty Selection Committee

Starting Eleven
Jack Diffin
Bob Ferguson
William Pollock
Samuel Moore
Bertie Fulton
Tony Carroll
Keiller McCullough
Jack Coulter
Stanley Mahood
Jack Mahood
John Blake
Billy McCandless
John McNinch
David Nelson
Robert Stewart
David Reid
Joseph Cassidy
James Gilmour
Thomas Kilpatrick
John Murphy
Jamie Shiels


None. None.

None. None.

Red Cards
None. None.

Match Officials

J. Reilly (Port Glasgow) (Referee)

Match Report

Battling against a strong wind in the first half, and yet crossing over at the interval with a two-goal lead, it looked only a matter of how many goals Ballymena would score in the second half at Celtic Park last Saturday.

Their football had been so impressive in adverse circumstances that one felt almost certain they would give an even better account of themselves in the second half with the wind in their favour. In fact, one looked for Ballymena winning by a handsome margin.

Celtic, however, have the reputation of never being beaten until the final whistle goes, and certainly on this occasion they lived up to it. S. Mahood reduced the lead about twenty minutes after the restart, but even then the points seemed safe in Ballymena's keeping.

However, the Celts strove for all they were worth, and, unfortunately for Ballymena, the goal which caused the division of the points came about three or four minutes from time, when McNinch faltered and Coulter drove home the equaliser.

The match was a well-contested affair, both teams exhibiting plenty of spirit and dash, but Ballymena playing the more polished football, and on the whole having better ball control and being more evenly balanced.

With such a good lead against the wind Ballymena should have won the match, but misfortune dealt them a heavy blow near the end.

Facing the wind and snow, Ballymena were on the defensive at the start, but the venue soon changed, Shiels and Murphy co-operating in a neat in-and-out movement which, however, ended in Cassidy's pass going astray. Returning to the attack. Celtic made good headway until they came up against McNinch, who effected a fine clearance.

Back they came again, and this time Coulter missed a glorious chance when he failed to connect with a push through from S. Mahood. More liveliness on the Ballymena left wing brought Murphy into prominence, and a shot from his foot was deflected for a corner.

A spell of end-to-end play followed, in which both teams did good work, but with Ballymena shaping better than their opponents. Still Celtic were often dangerous, particularly on one occasion when the whole front line got away on a clear field, only to be outwitted by McCandless, who dashed across the field and dispossessed Coulter neatly when anything might have happened.

Blake, Ballymena's new goalkeeper, stopped a lively shot from Moore, and later he got the ball away when Coulter failed to get in a shot, when well placed. It was now Ballymena's turn, and off they went on a quick run to the other end, where Murphy, who was distinguishing himself, sent across a centre from which Shiels headed narrowly past.

Then Cassidy engineered another attacking which he pushed the ball out to Murphy, whose centre, however, was met by Fulton just in front of goal and cleared. Gilmour, in turn, plied Murphy with a good pass, and the winger flashed in a dazzler which Diffen tipped over the bar for a corner, which was fruitless.

Putting plenty of life into their attacks, Celtic, with the aid of the wind, made quick dashes towards the Ballymena goal. J. Mahood called on Blake to stop a hard drive, and the goalie was at once hustled by S. Mahood and Coulter, who were on top of him, but he managed to get the ball away out of a difficult situation.

Following a corner to Celtic, Kilpatrick got possession and lobbed the ball neatly up to Gilmour, who was making good headway when he was brought down.

At the end of thirty minutes Shiels bent Wright and placed to Murphy, who volleyed in, but Wright returned, and Murphy trapping neatly, sent across again and James Gilmour headed through nicely for the opening score.

Retaliating vigorously, Celtic forced a couple of corners. From the first Blake saved well, but in attempting to clear on the second occasion he dropped the ball almost on goal-line, but fortunately McCandless had taken up his stand between the posts and was able to save the situation.

In the next minute McCandless diverted a shot from J. Mahood at the expense of a corner. This flag kick, and another which followed quickly on its heels, were abortive. Gilmour was injured shortly afterwards, but resumed almost immediately.

Fighting hard to get on level terms, Celtic forced play into the Ballymena end again, and when J. Mahood shot from two yards out Blake saved magnificently with one hand at the expense of a corner.

At the opposite end Gilmour was brought down again when racing through from Murphy's pass. Then a couple of corners followed, and from the second - taken by Murphy - James Gilmour put Ballymena further ahead.

Ballymena played extraordinarily good football on the restart, their passing bouts being a pleasure to watch, but they were unable to force home the advantage as they might have done.

In a tense moment at the Ballymena end Nelson pushed the ball back to Blake, who managed to kick clear with Coulter perilously near. Then a fine movement initiated by Cassidy was stopped when the referee pulled up Murphy for an alleged infringement of the offside rule.

At the Ballymena end McCandless was getting through a vast amount of good work, and at the Celtic end Ferguson was a great source of strength to the homesters.

The referee made an obvious mistake when he whistled up Gilmour for being offside when Ferguson was clearly between him and the goal. Then Murphy warmed Diffen's hands with a good drive, which deserved a better fare.

Carroll, who was not finishing too well up to the present, at last got across a great centre and Stanley Mahood, racing in, left Blake absolutely no chance with a first time drive.

Then Ballymena went off at a gallop in a nice movement, in which Cassidy was the leading light, but Kilpatrick's cross was diverted for a corner. Cheered on by the cries of their supporters, Celtic attacked spiritedly and would have got a second goal only for the tenacity shown by Blake in smothering the ball when he was implicated in a mix-up at the side of the post.

A free for a foul on Blake eased the situation Celtic pressed strenuously for the equaliser after this, but despite receiving two corners it did not come yet.

Just as Cassidy looked like going through to add Ballymena's lead he was brought down unceremoniously just outside the penalty area. McNinch's free kick set up a melee in front of the Celtic goal, and Murphy made a valiant effort to score, but only forced a corner.

Cassidy opened up the way again to Gilmour, but the centre-forward's shot was slightly off the mark.

A few minutes from the end Celtic staked their all in a last attempt, and unfortunately for Ballymena it succeeded, Jack Coulter scoring the equaliser when McNinch had failed to clear.

Match report written by Ballymena Observer (13 March 1931)

Squad Statistics (as at March 7th, 1931)

1930-1931 All Time
John Blake (GK)32 1 - 1 -
Billy McCandless38 371371
John McNinch27 3111072
David Nelson27 292512
Robert Stewart24 361361
David Reid34 37 - 11811
Joseph Cassidy34 3588130
James Gilmour28 17241724
Thomas Kilpatrick35 213515
John Murphy33 28256138
Jamie Shiels22 231010482

League Table (as at March 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