Harryville Homers retained the IFA Irish Junior Cup with a 3-1 win over Rosemount Rec in Monday’s final.
Robert Duddy’s side came a goal behind and missed a penalty before scoring three second half goals against a Rosemount side reduced to 10 men in the first half.
It was the Greyabbey side who made the brighter opening with Gary Canmore volleying just over inside the opening three minutes.
Homers almost contributed to their own downfall on five minutes as keeper Alex McCosh dallied over clearing a backpass and Mark Millar charged down his attempted clearance but thankfully for Homers, they were able to clear.
Homers gradually began to assert themselves and full-back Ryan Stewart - a man with an eye for goal - came close with a rising drive which keeper Chris Rice fielded above his head.
Then the Rosemount keeper had to be alert to tip Gary Bonnes’ left-wing cross over the bar when it looked as though the ball might drift in at the back post.
Rosemount continued to pose a threat and Matthew Harper came close with a curling drive which went narrowly wide.
Homers continued to probe and Gary Bonnes’ header from a Stewart cross took a deflection off a defender which took the pace off the ball enough to enable it to run through unchallenged to Rice.
Instead it was Rosemount who grabbed the lead on 31 minutes when skipper Stephen Acheson arrived at the back post to thunder home a header from a Nicky Eccles corner.
There was controversy on 41 minutes as Alan Rainey’s through ball released Paul McNeill who was brought down by defender David Keenan.
McNeill had managed to lift the ball over Rice and into the net just as he was tackled but referee Barry Monaghan disallowed the goal and called play back for a penalty, before sending Keenan off for denying a goalscoring opportunity.
When the dust eventually settled, Homers skipper Gary Bonnes placed the ball on the spot, only to drag his kick wide of the post.
Homers were seeking a quick equaliser at the start of the second half and they got it on 52 minutes.
There didn’t appear to be any imminent danger as the ball sailed through the air 20 yards from goal, until defender Neill Melville miscued his attempted headed clearance and as the ball dropped, David Nicholl swivelled to fire home a spectacular volley from just inside the penalty area.
Homers began to turn the screw against their tiring opponents but too often the final ball was just too far ahead of the Harryville forwards.
David Nicholl came within inches of putting the Ballymena side in front on 72 minutes but his audacious chip sailed narrowly over with relieved keeper Rice ending up in the back of his net.
But Homers’ pressure finally paid off as they went in front on 76 minutes. Ryan Stewart’s inswinging corner caused havoc and amid a crazy melee in the penalty area, the ball was eventually bundled over the line.
Amid the confusion it was Paul McNeill - man of the match in last year’s final - who claimed the final touch.
Homers survived a late scare when Mark Millar sizzling drive went narrowly over the crossbar with McCosh beaten.
Then as Rosemount piled men forward in search of an equaliser in injury time, Homers broke on the counter-attack with McNeill unselfishly squaring for Jasin Magill to score a simple tap-in, with the final whistle going just seconds later.
Harryville Homers: McCosh, Forsythe, Stewart (sub Spratt 80), Russell, Baird, Bonnes (sub Magill 86), Rainey (sub Logan 80), McNeill, D Nicholl, R Nicholl, McKay. Subs (not used): Ritchie, Martin.
Rosemount Rec: Rice, McAvoy, Palmer (sub Crawford 80), Atcheson, Keenan, Canmore (sub Harrison 88), Melville, A Eccles, Harper, Millar, N Eccles (sub Adair 56). Subs (not used): McAvoy, Millar.
Referee: Barry Monaghan (Irvinestown)
* More coverage and reaction to follow.