Ballymena 0
Linfield 3
Irish Cup (Final)

0 - 3

Irish Cup (Final)
Saturday, March 28th, 1931
The Oval
Attendance: 20,211
3:00 PM Kick-off

None. Hamilton Hewitt (65)
Billy Houston (75)
Harry McCracken (83)

Team Managers
Selection Committee
Selection Committee

Starting Eleven
James McKean
Billy McCandless
John McNinch
David Nelson
Robert Stewart
David Reid
Joseph Cassidy
Johnny Dalrymple
James Gilmour
John Murphy
Jamie Shiels
Frank Higgs
Maurice Pyper
Jack Curran
William McCleery
Jack Jones
Tom Sloan
Billy Houston
Harry McCracken
Hamilton Hewitt
Frank Grice
Harold McCaw


None. None.

None. None.

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

H. Hull (Burnley) (Referee)

Match Report

Last Saturday's Irish Cup Final between Ballymena and Linfield at the Oval will go down in history as one of the most mediocre displays of the kind ever seen in the long history of the competition.

A crowd of 20,000 saw the game, but so few were the thrills that hardly ever was a cheer raised. The standard of football shown was certainly not worthy of Irish Cup finalists. There was nothing impressive about it, nothing out of the ordinary.

In fact, neither team ever rose to the occasion as they might have done, which was vastly disappointing to the big crowd, who had paid £1,161 in gate money to see the match.

Ballymena started off in great style, and for the first five or ten minutes it looked as if they were going to overrun their opponents. They were quick on the ball and smart in their footwork, but during this period, and in the succeeding stages of the game, the forwards for some reason or other hardly attempted to shoot, which was a great mistake.

However, Ballymena continued to be well in the game until the interval, when the score sheet was still blank and for twenty minutes after the restart.

Then Hewitt scored a soft goal for Linfield, and from this until the end Ballymena played listlessly, the forwards showing neither enterprise nor enthusiasm. Houston and McCracken brought Linfield's score up to three, neither of these two goals, nor the one which preceded them, could be called brilliant affairs.

Thus Linfield annexed the Cup for the seventeenth time, and for the last couple of years in succession. They were the more active eleven, and deserved their victory, though neither team could be complimented on their display.

Linfield took the field first and were enthusiastically welcomed, but when Ballymena appeared a few seconds later the hearty applause which greeted them showed they they also had a big support.

Ballymena started with the breeze in their favour, but Linfield were first out of the circle. McCandless intercepted a pass from McCracken and placed up the field to Reid, who let Cassidy and Shiels away, but the movement ended abruptly.

In the next onslaught Shiels collided with an opponent in a heading duel, and was injured about the head so much that he was dazed for a considerable time afterwards, and probably suffered from the impact throughout the match.

In these early exchanges Ballymena shaped remarkably well, playing lively open football, and harassing the Linfield defence considerably, but unfortunately their attacks ended before they really became dangerous, chiefly through slackness in front of goal.

On the Linfield left McCaw evaded McNinch, but the burly Ballymena back pursued him and dispossessed him neatly. Then Houston got in a flying shot which McKeen fielded smartly. Play veered to the other end, when the Ballymena forwards still played a swinging game, but most of the play was on the right wing,, and unfortunately centres were not coming in from that direction.

Murphy on the left wing had not got a kick at the ball yet, and was clearly impatient to be in the action, but somehow he was being ignored.

At this stage of the game the Ballymena halves were pying their forwards with good passes, but they would have made the progress had they slung the ball to the wings, as every time it went up the centre the movement was cut short.

The first shot at this end came not from a forward, but from one of the halves - Nelson - whose effort was just wide of the mark. Then Linfield pressed, and were going strong when the referee blew for off-side, but suddenly changed his decision and awarded a free kick just outside the Ballymena penalty area.

Jones took the kick and skimmed the bar with a great shot. When attempting to stem another attack McNinch hit the ball against an opponent and it cannoned into the middle, but fortunately McCandless had taken up a good position and was able to do the needful. McCandless was proving himself the man of the moment, his good positional play and clean kicking being a feature of the match.

Houston came into prominence with a great cross drive which flashed across goal, only to be missed by Grice. Ballymena pressed again, and Cassidy worked his way up and shot, but it was charged down, and on the rebound Stewart had a try on his own which was not far off the mark.

Houston seeing that he could not out-manoeuvre McCandless got rid of the bal at once on every possible occasion. Two flying shots from him from the wing were saved by McKeen in fine style.

The first corner of the match came off McCandless but nothing material resulted. When McNinch was beaten by a speedy left wing Reid came to the rescue in a manner which earned him the applause of the crowd. McKeen was fouled by Houston when clearing a shot, and subsequently Shiels made tracks up the field and swept the ball out to Dalrymple, who sent behind when well placed.

A pass from Cassidy up the middle looked dangerous as the ball bounded up to goal, but Higgs got to the ball before Gilmour, who ran in speedily in an effort to connect.

Though both Ballymena backs were standing up well to the attacks McKeen was often in action, but he acquitted himself in masterly style. Shiels exchanged places with Murphy for a period, and at last Murphy found himself in possession and sent a lovely pass to Gilmour, who was brought down unfairly when going through.

He fell just inside the penalty area, but the referee ignored the incident. Shiels was still feeling the effects of his injury and had to receive the attention of the trainer again. A Ballymena attack led by Gilmour ended in a corner being forced, but it did not bring the desired result. Subsequently they returned to the attack, but despite some hot work in the Linfield goal area all their efforts were unavailing. The attack ended when Gilmour piloted the ball over the bar.

The Linfield forwards raced for the opposite end, but McNinch dispossessed Grice and sent the ball to Gilmour, who in turn was robbed. A further corner to Ballymena was taken up Dalrymple, and when the ball came in Reid headed to Murphy, who lifted it over the bar with the side of his foot. Just before the interval Reid dropped the ball well up into the goal area and Murphy headed in beautifully, but Higgs saved on his knees.

Just after the resumption Reid and Nelson sustained injuries, but happily both were able to resume after attention. Cassidy placed nicely for Dalrymple to cross the ball in, but Gilmour failed to take it with him in his stride. With the wind behind them Linfield attacked for a time, and the Ballymena defence was kept busy, McKeen on one occasion running out to kick clear with several opponents in close attendance.

Then Gilmour collared the ball from McCandless's kick and punted it out to Murphy, who beat McCleery but lost to Pyper. At the opposite end Grice struck the upright with a terrific drive, and on the rebound McKeen cleared his lines. One of the few good movements of the match between Gilmour and Cassidy was spoiled when Murphy was pulled up wrongly for offside as he was racing for the ball.

Going all out again Linfield carried play to the Ballymena end, but McNinch stemmed the attack and after beating three or four opponents in succession was fouled by Jones, who made no bones about the matter. Though Ballymena still had a good deal of the play the forwards seemd to have lost all their initiative, so that the Linfield backs got clear kicking.

Some twenty minutes after the resumption Jones let the Linfield forwards away, and when McCandless kicked the ball away, McCracken trapped and sent it along the floor to Houston, who centred it into the goalmouth. The ball was coming about waist high and as McKeen went to collar it Hamilton Hewitt rushed in, and the next thing we saw was the ball in the net and McKeen lying on the ground.

Ballymena pulled themselves together again and set off on a fast dash which ended in Murphy skimming the bar with a good try. Jones was pulled up for a foul on Dalrymple, and for a time play was strennous. The Ballymena goal had a narrow escape from a centre from Houston, which was diverted at the expense of a corner.

With only fifteen minutes to go Linfield pressed home an attack which brought their second goal, scored by Billy Houston after McKeen had failed to hold a previous shot.

Ballymena were largely on the defensive from now up to the end, before which Linfield forced a couple of corners, Harry McCracken scoring the second.

Match report written by Ballymena Observer (3 April 1931)

Squad Statistics (as at March 28th, 1931)

1930-1931 All Time
James McKean (GK)24 17 - 20 -
Billy McCandless38 401401
John McNinch27 3411102
David Nelson27 322542
Robert Stewart25 391391
David Reid34 40 - 12111
Joseph Cassidy34 3888430
Johnny Dalrymple29 286528
James Gilmour28 20242024
John Murphy33 31276440
Jamie Shiels22 241010582

League Table (as at March 28th, 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