SML round-up: Rovers claim George McAuley Cup glory

Celebrations from Ahoghill Rovers after they beat Seven Towers 2-1 to win the George McAuley Cup. INBT19-211AC
Celebrations from Ahoghill Rovers after they beat Seven Towers 2-1 to win the George McAuley Cup. INBT19-211AC

Ahoghill Rovers clinched the firmus energy Saturday Morning League’s George McAuley Cup with a 2-1 win over Seven Towers.

Rovers got off to the perfect start in the second division knockout final when they found the net after only seven minutes.

Billy McIlwaine, captain of Newpark Olympic, is pictured receiving the Division 2 trophy from league sponsor David Fusco (Firmus Energy) and Brian Montgomery (SML secretary). INBT19-214AC

Billy McIlwaine, captain of Newpark Olympic, is pictured receiving the Division 2 trophy from league sponsor David Fusco (Firmus Energy) and Brian Montgomery (SML secretary). INBT19-214AC

David Chesney turned on the edge of the box and hit a snapshot which proved too powerful for Towers keeper Mark Wilson.

Two minutes into the second half Rovers doubled their lead when Johnny McKeown dug a cross out from the right which was head home at the back post by Alan Jones.

Rovers controlled the game for a period after this goal and could have put the game beyond doubt but David Chesney fired wide when left clear.

With Rovers defending so well it was always going to take something special to break them down and with 11 minutes to go Towers scored a special goal. Gary McIlroy danced past three Rovers defenders on the edge of the box before calmly slotting the balk past Andrew French.

Thomas and Bertie McAuley are pictured presenting the George McAuley Cup to Ahoghill Rovers captain Chris Duff. INBT19-210AC

Thomas and Bertie McAuley are pictured presenting the George McAuley Cup to Ahoghill Rovers captain Chris Duff. INBT19-210AC

In the dying minutes a long range free kick from Aaron Gordon almost deceived everyone but Andrew French tipped the ball round the post as Rovers held on to win the Cup.

After the final whistle Bertie McAuley brother of the late George McAuley handed the George McAuley Cup over to the winning Ahoghill Rovers Captain Chris Duff and the celebrations began.

Ahoghill Rovers: Andrew French, Mark Taggart, Aaron Fulton, Ryan Morrow, Chris Duff, Maurice Spence, Stuart McKinney, Phil Aicken, David Chesney, Alan Jones, Johnny McKeown. Subs: Ian Thomson, Jonny McCormick, Trevor Holmes, Marc Young.

Seven Towers: Mark Wilson, Aaron Gordon, Timmy McKillen, Marcus Handford, Paul Herbinson, Ryan Brady, Gary McIlroy, Ross Hunter, Chris Graham, Colin Corry. Subs: John Miskella, Steven Phillips, Gary Taggart, Adam Gordon, Matt McAnally.

Referee – Mr T Hume. Assistant Referees – Mr G Crawford and Mr D Trimble.

ACE CUP SEMI-FINAL

Carniny Rangers 0, Ahoghill Thistle 3: Thistle set up an Ace Cup Final against fellow title chasers Harryville Homers with this convincing victory.

The opening goal came on 31 minutes when a low drilled cross from David Drummond bounced between David Tennant and Carniny keeper Ryan Curry and somehow beat them both to slip into the corner of the net.

Carniny started the second half brightly as they went in search of an equaliser and they forced an early save from Thistle keeper Sean Ward when he saved a Darren Kidd shot after he had been set up by Frazer Young.

Thistle came more and more into the game as the half wore on and with 12 minutes to go they hit Carniny with a second goal. George Courtney floated a free kick into the box and Matt Boyd rose above the Carniny defence to head home.

Straight from the kick off Carniny were given a lifeline to get back into the game when they were awarded a penalty kick after Ryan Bamber was bundled over in the box. Dean Magill stepped up but fired his spot kick wide as Carniny missed the chance to get back into the game.

Both sides were then reduced to 10 men when they both had a man ordered off for a scuffle in the middle of the park.

Thistle sealed the tie late on when David Tennant fired the ball across the box for George Courtney to score and send his side into the final.

FIRMUS ENERGY DIVISION ONE

Abbeyview 1, Harryville Homers 4: The opening goal came when Ricky Nicholl controlled the ball on the edge of the box, picking up the loose ball from a header clearance from a corner before thumping and unstoppable right foot shot past the keeper five minutes before the break.

Two minutes later it was 2-0 when Gary Bonnes capitalised on a goal mouth defensive mix up when the attempted clearance hit off the striker and went into the net.

omers killed the game off as a contest when Gary Bonnes was upended in the box by the Abbeyview keeper and he picked himself up to convert himself and make the score 3-0.

Jasin Magill marked his return to action when he got on the end of a Jason McKay cross to head home the fourth. With the game almost up, Abbeyview were awarded a penalty of their own which was calmly converted by Henry Nutter.

FIRMUS ENERGY DIVISION TWO

Glenravel 3, Galgorm Blues 0: Glenravel sealed promotion to Division One in only their second year in the league thanks to this comfortable victory.

The home side got off to a perfect start on two minutes when Conan Dunne and Brian Paul Donnelly combined to set up Dean Dunlop who made no mistake from close range to give his side the lead.

Glenravel made it 2-0 on 25 minutes when Conan Dunne got himself clear, but he slipped and the ball fell to Brian Paul Donnelly to control and finish.

Glenravel regained the upper hand in the second half and sealed the victory late on when good work from Declan Higgins set up Dean Dunlop to score his second goal of the game.

OTHER RESULTS

Rainey Cup round three: Clough Rangers 10, Randalstown 0.

Rainey Cup Quarter Final: Harryville Homers 6, Riverdale 2

firmus energy Division One: All Saints OB 5, Raceview 2; Clough Rangers 1, Ahoghill Thistle 2; Michelin 1, Connor 6.

firmus energy Division Two: Riverdale 5, Cullybackey Olympic 1

firmus energy Division Three: Atletico Antrim 1, Woodside 4; Cushendall 3, Wakehurst Star 2; Sporting Ballymoney 5, Rectory Rovers 0; Steadfast 0, Templepatrick 3.

FIXTURES

Tuesday, May 5 (7pm) - Rainey Cup quarter-finals: All Saints OB v Seven Towers (Showgrounds 5); Clough Rangers v Connor (Clough); Cloughmills v Carniny Rangers.

Wednesday, May 6 (7pm) - firmus energy Division Two: Riverdale v Ahoghill Rovers (Wakehurst 2); Glenravel v Holywell (Showgrounds 4); Cullybackey Olympic v Lisnafillan Swifts (Cullybackey).

firmus energy Division Three: Cushendall v Randalstown.

Thursday, May 5 (7pm) - firmus energy BSML Division One: Ahoghill Thistle v Ballykeel (Ahoghill); Clough Rangers v Harryville Homers (Clough).

Saturday, May 9 (10.15am) - firmus energy Division One: Ahoghill Thistle v All Saints OB (Ahoghill); Carniny Rangers v Harryville Homers (Wakehurst 2).

firmus energy Division Two: Lisnafillan Swifts v Seven Towers

firmus energy Division Three: Sporting Ballymoney v Randalstown.