This Friday sees the rearranged second knockout final of the year in the firmus energy Ballymena Saturday Morning League.
Ahoghill Thistle and Carniny Rangers do battle in the Mortgage Solutions Top Four Final in the main arena at Ballymena Showgrounds (7.45pm) These sides made it to the final by defeating Harryville Homers and Clough Rangers respectively in the semi finals and both will be hoping they can claim the first silverware of the season.
Thistle, under the guidance of manager Stewart McDonald, have become a real force in Division One, but this Final will be the first major final the club has competed in.
Stewart has built up a strong side from the summer adding players from many Intermediate clubs. Sean Ward has been a revelation in goal for Thistle since he signed from Larne, while Thistle’s back four is very strong with Davy Calderwood and Gareth Dickey bringing a wealth of experience and along with Captain Jason Stewart and David Campbell means that manager McDonald has a strong defence to choose from for the final. In the engine room are Daniel Brown and Ryan Sands and they will be hoping to be on top of their games for the final. George Courtney will be hoping to recover from injury as he and David Drummond are the main supply line for Thistle and both are also very capable of chipping in with important goals.
Up top Thistle’s normal front two of Matt Boyd and David Tennant have hit 24 goals between them this season and Thistle will be hoping these two can fire the goals which may spearhead them to a win in the final.
Carniny have been suffering a barren run in terms of trophies but they will be hoping that they can win this final to win their first trophy since May 2012, with manager Robert Young hoping his young side can come of age in this final. In goals Carniny have had problems this season with the new number one James Gracey sometimes unavailable, but they will be hoping he is availab
le for the Final as on his day he is magnificent keeper. Cup tied Alan Norton will be a big loss for Carniny, but in Craig Greene and Adam Coulter they have solid replacements. Ryan Balmer adds extra strength to the Carniny defence and his marauding runs from the back will also be a big danger to Thistle.
In the middle of the park Carniny will be hoping the return to fitness of Fraser Young can give them that creative spark in the final as he along with Alan Telford create most of Carniny’s chances. Ryan Bamber and Tyler Caulfield provide Carniny with a real powerful midfield and on their day they are difficult to stop.
Carniny have a wealth of talent in the forward department with Michael McQuitty, Dean Dunlop, Johnny Spence, Darren Kidd and Rico Wylie all on their day capable of being match winners, and with new addition Shane Donnelly impressing since joining Carniny will surely be a major threat to Thistle.
Entry is by Slemish Drive only and entry fee will be £3 for what has the makings of a magnificent final again depending on the weather.
RAINEY CUP, ROUND ONE
Carniny Rangers 2, Glenravel 0: Eight minutes into the second half, Michael McQuitty headed his side into the lead from a corner.
Despite having the lion’s share of the play, it took Carniny until 71 minutes to seal the win when McQuitty found the net with a tidy finish from eight yards out to put his team through to a second round tie with Moylena.
RAINEY CUP, ROUND TWO
Holywell 3, St Comgall’s 0: Holywell keeper Seamus Melly was the hero as they made it into the third round as he made a string of second half saves including from a penalty kick.
Five minutes into the game Holywell got the opening goal. Nicky Brennan slipped the ball through for Neil Stevenson who raced cleared and fired into the bottom corner of the net.
Holywell got the perfect start to the second half when they made it 2-0 almost straight from the restart. Joe McKernan held the ball in before releasing Nicky Brennan on the right and his cross found Caolain Rennison who brilliantly clipped the ball over the Saints keeper and into the net. Paul McCallin was the creator of the third goal when he played a lovely through ball into the path of Neil Stevenson to score his second goal of the game.
Other round two result: Carnlough Swifts 1, Templepatrick 2 (AET)
FIRMUS ENERGY DIVISION ONE
FC Antrim 3, All Saints OB 2: Saints went ahead on 14 minutes when Philip Lynn crossed from the right to Stephen Sexton who cushioned the ball to Gavin Burnside who in turn fed Ryan Wilkinson 15 yards out and he found the corner of the net with a neatly placed volley.
Saints doubled their lead when a superb team move down the right involving Aidan O’Kane, Gavin Burnside and Ryan Wilkinson resulted in Philip Lynn being fouled in the box and a penalty kick was awarded. Burnside stepped up and sent Martin Campbell the wrong way to give his side a 2-0 lead.
Antrim got a goal back 12 minutes before the break when a poor defensive clearance fell to Peter McAuley and he fed Eoghan Gribben who bustled his way through the Saints defence before slipping the ball past Brian Martin.
Seven minutes later the game was all square when a free kick from Sean Redmond was brilliantly saved by Brian Martin but the ball fell to Brian Williamson who squared to Eoghan Gribben to fire in and send the sides in level at the break.
As the second half wore on Antrim became more dangerous and one attack ended with Sean Redmond being bundled over the in the box and a penalty kick was awarded. Oran McAuley made no mistake from the spot for the winning goal.
Saturday, February 7, Irish Junior Cup, round four (1.30pm): Harryville Homers v Kilrea United (Wakehurst 2); Rosemount Rec v Raceview.
firmus energy, Division One (10.15am): Connor v Abbeyview; FC Moylena v Ballykeel (Forum); FC Penarol v Clough Rangers (Showgrounds 5);Michelin v All Saints OB
firmus energy Division Two: Ahoghill Rovers v Carnlough Swifts; Braid United v Cullybackey Olympic (Broughshane); Cloughmills v St Comgalls; Galgorm Blues v Newpark Olympic (Galgorm); Glenravel v Lisnafillan Swifts (Showgrounds 4);Holywell v Seven Towers (Forum); Waveney Swifts v Riverdale (Waveney 2).
CGRSC Sammy Moore Cup quarter final, second leg: SPorting Ballymoney  v Rectory Rovers .
firmus energy Division Three: Randalstown v Cushendall; Wakehurst Star v Templepatrick; Woodside v Steadfast.