Release Date: 30/08/2012
Author: By Sammy Martin
The closing month of the Euro Electrix NIWFA League approaches with its overflowing feast of non-stop football that spans seven divisions, each section about to salute a knock-out champion as the various cup finals promise a dazzling finale to the season.
And the cream of the finals is the Premiership Cup contest between Ballymena Allstars and Glentoran Belfast United. What about the superb Allstars? Didn’t they do well? What were the odds on them knocking out Crusaders in two sections, the Premiership and the Reserve? – An admirable achievement by any stretch of the imagination. They won’t be able to luxuriate in the grandeur of their accomplishment though. The problem (or problems) now is they are facing Glentoran BU in both finals.
The Premiership team can expect to be overburdened by the endless work-rate that will be asked of them by an imposing Glens. Their efforts will have to be absolute, never-ending. The task before them is immense.
An International packed Glens, who will be bidding for a fifth successive triumph, are formidable foes, but then Ballymena know that. They are aware of the quality within. They know they must perform beyond the call of duty – or suffer the consequence. But if they are searching for motivation they can look back on an inspirational evening back in July at the Billy Neill Playing Fields when they pulled off a shock 1-0 win over the Glens with a Vicky Carleton goal. It was a victory that was decisive in ending Glentoran’s reign as champions. The Allstars will need to shine as brightly as they did then.
Glentoran ooze class, their assorted haul of trophies is testament to the creative ability that has established them as the League’s most successful club. They know they should win. They are hot favourites to do so. You have to fear for Ballymena. But then they reached the pinnacle before. Can they do so again?
The match is scheduled for September 24 at Solitude. The Reserve final, which opens the finals, will take place on this Friday 31 August, at Solitude.
Cliftonville won the Championship Cup last season with a smooth 4-2 win over YMCA. They defend their trophy against Dromore (Donegal Celtic Stadium, Suffolk Road, Belfast Mon 3 Sept) and, with respect to the Amateurs, it’s going to take a fired-up display well above the League skirmishes between the two for Dromore to prise away the Cup from the finely-tuned Reds.
Dromore were victims on the two occasions they met in the League as Cliftonville’s unblemished run to the title was one of the highlights of the League. This has the makings of being one of those dreadful mismatches that unfortunately are thrown up by the gulf that in some sections exist between teams. How will Dromore cope with their powerful opponents? We’ll have to wait and see.
DIVISION 3 CUP
Two evenings later the Division 3 final takes place at The Oval (Glentoran, Wed 5). Sadly, once more this could be another unequal contest as new division champions Newry City face PSNI. The police side suffered a 5-0 drubbing in last season’s final by Lisburn who went to be gain promotion through the play-offs. They are facing even stiffer opposition in a potent Newry side in this year’s final.
The League encounters between the two ended in overwhelming disasters for PSNI as Newry slammed in a total of 26 goals! – And kept clean sheets into the bargain. The sprouting, young Newry squad shot through their division with maximum points. The police ladies would have to scale Everest to win this one. Can’t really see anything else other than a Newry victory.
DIVISION 4 CUP
The next final on the Rota is the Division 4 shoot-out between Carnmoney and Drumaness at Seaview (Crusaders, Fri 7). A duel between the top two teams was erased when they were drawn to meet in the semi-final where the Mills sprung something of a surprise on champions Killen Rangers, two goals from Danielle Ferris and one from Alison McMaster inflicting a 3-0 defeat on the ‘Gers in their own backyard. There was a huge difference in points between runners-up Drumaness and Carnmoney at the end of the season, so the Mills will have to live with the favourites tag going into this one. Carnmoney’s top scorer Carly Hynds snapped up a hat-trick in her side’s 4-1 semi-final win over Dromara Village. Her teammates will be hoping she will hit the target in the final.
DIVISION 1 CUP
Valley Rangers, who sneaked past St. Matthew’s in the Division 1 title race, now, have the opportunity to celebrate a double winning season for the fourth time in successive years when they take on Larne in the Division 1 final (Seaview, Friday 14). They first achieved the double when, as Kilkeel Ladies, they defeated Lisburn Distillery in the 2009 final to add to their League triumph. They followed up with Cup successes over Crumlin United (Division 3) and 1st Bangor (Division 2).
Larne lost their two League games to Rangers, but the Co. Antrim side was up for the fight when the teams met in the Coca Cola Women’s Irish Cup, unlucky to lose on a penalty kicks shoot-out. Larne no doubt are aware of the sharpshooting skills of 26-goal ace Nicole Graham but in Christine Waide and Gemma Lambe they, too, possess two proven scorers. The Mourne ladies meanwhile will out to maintain a record that surpasses all others in the lower divisions.
This one has the ingredients of a very good match. Valley are slight favourites. They should win, but again the unpredictability of knock-out football sets this one up as a captivating and interesting showdown.
DIVISION 2 CUP
The Division 2 final between Lisburn and Sion Swifts is too close to call (Stangmore Park, Dungannon, Mon 17). Both teams are bound for Division 1, Lisburn as champions after Sion dropped six points in their final three games, beaten by Lisburn and Portadown Integrated, in effect handing the title to Lisburn.
Stacy Hamilton’s goal-scoring feat of 18 goals for Lisburn was equalled by Sion’s Lauren Brennan. The spur for Lisburn is obviously completing a double, whilst Sion will want to gain some reward for missing out on the League crown.
Who, When and Where? A guide to September's finals:-
Monday, 3rd September - Championship - Donegal Celtic Stadium - Cliftonville v. Dromore
Wednesday, 5th September - Division 3 - The Oval - PSNI v. Newry
Friday 7th September - Division 4 - Seaview - Carnmoney Ladies v. Drumaness
Friday 14th September - Division 1 - Seaview - Larne Ladies v. Valley Rangers
Monday 17th September - Division 2 - Stangmore Park - Lisburn Ladies v. Sion Swifts
Monday 24th September - Premier Cup - Solitude - Ballymena United All Stars v. Glentoran Belfast United
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