Local rivals set to clash in Nelson Cup final

By Staff Reporter

SOUTH BELFAST rivals St Matthew’s and Aquinas are set to make the trip across town on Thursday evening as they battle it out in the Nelson Cup final at Solitude.

St Matthew’s will enter the game as favourites as they ply their trade in the Belfast & District Premier Division but they will be wary of the threat posed by an Aquinas team going in search of a league and cup double with the Division 2 title within touching distance.

St Matt’s mentor Dee O’Kane, who takes the team along with Lance Shiels, revealed they will be bringing a large support to the home of Cliftonville and while they are confident of victory, nothing is being taken for granted.

“We lost out on the league narrowly because of a slow start and found ourselves 15 points behind,” he said.

“We pulled it back but just ran out of time although we beat St Paul’s who won the league in the cup. We would be confident of victory because we have beaten the likes of St Paul’s, Bhean Mhadigan, Tullymore Swifts and Shamrock to get here and have had good warm up victories over Lurgan Celtic and a combined Glentoran Reserves/Swifts team at the Oval last week.

“We might be favourites but cup finals are all on the day so we will have to be at our best but if we are I think we can win.”

Aquinas enjoyed impressive victories over Sparta Belfast, West Belfast, Willowbank and Cumman Spoirt an Phobail en-route to Thursday’s showpiece.

They have now gone 23 games unbeaten in all competitions and recently demolished Hibernians 7-2 to leave them on the cusp of the league title.

 

Tribute

Aquinas have just been playing senior soccer for two seasons and club secretary Bobby McCambridge paid tribute to the players who have brought success to the club in such a short space of time.

“The aim of setting up a senior team was to allow players to continue with the club after their time in youth football, so it’s very pleasing, not just to have won promotion in our first year, to be challenging for the league title and promotion again in year two and to have progressed to the cup final, but to have done it with so many former players,” he said.

“Paul Fay’s depth of experience and talent as a manager, and coach, has undoubtedly been a major factor in the club’s success. He has been assisted over the last two years by Stephen McDonald, another club management stalwart and Ciaran Devlin.

“I would appeal to all ‘Blue ’n’ Blacks’, of all ages, to get out to Solitude on Thursday and support our seniors.

“I would urge our younger players to work on their parents to make the trip over to North Belfast. It gives the younger players a chance to see the senior set up and to realise that they never have to retire from the club now. We have never been found wanting in getting the support out for the big occasions in the past and we hope that will continue to be the case on Thursday as red Solitude turns blue ’n’ black.”

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