Homers and Carniny primed for Boxing Day cup final showdown

Dean Dunlop has been a key player in Carniny Rangers' revival this season.
Dean Dunlop has been a key player in Carniny Rangers' revival this season.

Harryville Homers and Carniny Rangers aim to claim the first silverware of the season as they do battle in the Co Antrim Post O’Kane Cup Final.

While most of the teams in the BSML take a well-earned break over the festive period, the long-standing Ballymena Saturday Morning League rivals will square up in the traditional Boxing Day showpeice final.

Harryville Homers will be hoping to make it six O’Kane Cup successes in a row. They go into the final though short of match practice having played only one game due to the weather since they defeated All Saints OB in the semi-final on 21st November.

In goals the return of Ryan Martin from Coagh United has proved a major positive for Homers as him and Alex McCosh provide manager Robert Duddy with two very experienced keepers. Homers will be without attacking left back Ryan Stewart through suspension, but Ian Russell has once again proved to be the mainstay of the Homers defence and whoever lines up beside him in the back 4 will prove difficult for Carniny to break down. Gary Baird’s return to fitness last year proved crucial in Homers having a successful season and he has continued this season in great form. Darren Campbell has once again hit the ground running, finding the net on a regular basis from midfield.

On the wings the pace of Alan Rainey and the trickery of BSML Player of the Year David Nicholl are a constant threat and they could have a major say in the destination of the O’Kane Cup. Manager Robert Duddy is not short of attacking options with Paul McNeill again finding the net on a regular basis. He is likely to be partnered by Richard Reid whose power and strength will be a big threat to his former side. Homers will be hoping Captain Gary Bonnes can return to fitness in time for the final.

Carniny Rangers have been some what a surprise package so far this season, after a slow start they have went on a remarkable run which has seen them reach both this final and the final of the Top Four.

The arrival of Sean Ward from Ballyclare Comrades has proved to be a great acquisition for Carniny as his presence in goal gives the whole team confidence. At the back another new signing Ricky Culbertson has added experience in the defence and he could be partnered by Alan Norton, Dean Magill or Tyler Caulfield which will provide Homers front line with a very difficult defence to crack. Ryan Balmer provides Carniny with a great outlet with his marauding runs from left back.

In the engine room Captain Ryan Bamber looks back to his best after an injury hit season last year and beside him the return to fitness of Frazer Young will be a major boost for manager Robert Young as Carniny go in search of their first trophy since 2012. Frazer Young along with Dean Wright and Darren Kidd provide the ammunition for the front men and in Dean Dunlop and new recruit Zach Barr Carniny have two strikers who are bang in form.

The Final will take place on Saturday 26th December 2015 at Ballymena Showgrounds Main Arena with a 10.30am kick off. Entry to the Final will be via the Slemish Drive entrance only. Admission is £3.