McNeill’s strike was enoug hto ensure that the Larne side finished their debut season in the firmus energy Saturday Morning League with a trophy.
Carniny looked the most likely to get a breakthrough before the break with Tyler McAuley heading over and then he went close soon after with a lob as both sides failed to get the opener.
Late on there was chances at both ends, firstly Paul McCann headed over for Ruby’s and then Tyler McAuley spurned a glorious chance to win it for his side when he beat the offside trap but his shot was saved by Matthew Rice in the Ruby’s goal as the game finished goalless.
The first half of extra time saw two tired sides struggle to make in roads, but in the second half Ruby’s were on top as they forced a series of set pieces before they got what proved to be the winner with only minutes to go. A corner kick on the right from Jeffrey Withers beat everyone and was headed home at the back post by William McNeill from two yards out.
After the final whistle Denver Gregg of sponsors Clough Glasgow Rangers Supporters Club handed the Sammy Moore Cup over to winning Ruby’s Rover Captain Paul McCann and the celebrations began.
FIRMUS ENERGY DIVISION ONE
All Saints OB 1, Ahoghill Thistle 2: One minute before the break Saints took the lead. Barry Hamill clipped a corner kick into the near post for Aaron Wilkinson whose flicked was headed in from six yards out by Chris Wilkinson.
This should have sent Saints in 1-0 up at the break but Thistle hit back in injury time. George Courtney swung a free kick into the box from the right which was met by the head of Randal Reid, but Brian Martin in the Saints goal could only tip it onto the post and the ball ended up over the line.
Five minutes into the second half Thistle got themselves in front. David Drummond hammered a brilliant free kick from 25 yards round the Saints wall but Brian Martin did well to keep it out with a magnificent one handed save but the ball fell to Randal Reid who reacted quickest to score what proved to be the winner.
Harryville Homers 4, Carniny Rangers 0: After 10 minutes Homers were handed a glorious opportunity to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty kick after Paul McNeill was fouled as he rounded Sean Ward.
The Carniny keeper only received a yellow card for his last ditch tackle, and Homers’ dismay was heightened when the spot kick was squandered.
This did not stop Homers from dominating and they made a well deserved break through midway into the half. Paul McNeill raced onto another pass through the visitors defence before calmly slotting past Sean Ward for one nil.
Paul McNeill, so often Carniny’s Nemesis in the past, eventually doubled his sides lead when he on hand to convert from close range to complete his brace.
Ricky Nicholl slipped Alan Rainey down the right, the wide man then produced the ball of the game into the defensive channel of uncertainty for the on rushing David Nicholl to gleefully accept the chance for three nil.
The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for when the fourth and final goal was scored by Ian Russell. The big defender out muscled Ricky Culbertson in the six yard box to apply the finishing touch to a Mark McKay assist.
GEORGE McAULEY CUP FINAL
This Friday sees the final of the McAuley Cup take place at Connor and it features two teams who have been at the top end of Division Two for most of the season in the form of Michelin and holders Ahoghill Rovers.
Michelin sealed their spot in the final with a 2-0 win over Sporting Ballymoney in the semi final, but they had to do it without the hero of the Quarter Final Mark McFerran who was replaced by Andy Johnston playing in first game in 5 years. At the back the experienced Gareth Hill provides Michelin great strength and he is partnered by either Geoff Tweed or David Fusco who have both played their part in recent weeks as Michelin have kept a series of clean sheets. Joey Patton has got three goals in three games in recent weeks from the middle of the park and beside him Mark McAllister has proved to be a real creative force after his move from All Saints. The Michelin front pairing of Derek Montgomery and Paul O’Neill link up brilliantly and got the goals which sealed the final spot. Together they have scored almost 60 goals this season and will be hoping they can fire Michelin to their third George McAuley Cup win.
Rovers have been around the top of Division Two all year and this is down to strength throughout the panel. At the back the match winner in the semi final Lee McGaw has progressed well this season into a no nonsense centre half who will definitely put it up to the prolific Michelin strike force in the final. In the middle of the park Ryan Cameron and Alan Jones provide a real attacking threat and have both chipped in with crucial goals. Unfortunately for Rovers, one of their stars of the season Stuart McKinney will miss the final as he is away on holiday. David Chesney has hit 22 goals this season and Rovers will be hoping he can fire his side to more silverware.
This all adds up to a great final is in store at Connor on Friday night with a 7pm kick off and £3 admission.
Rainey Cup quarter-final: Carnlough Swifts 4, Carniny Rangers 1
firmus energy Division One: Ahoghill Thistle 4, FC Moylena 0; Newpark Olympic 5, Glenravel 1
Ace Cup Quarter Finals: Ballykeel 0 All Saints OB 9; Carniny Rangers 4 Clough Rangers 1; Harryville Homers 4 Ahoghill Thistle 6
firmus energy Division Two: Woodside 1 Michelin 2; Waveney Swifts 6 Galgorm Blues 0; Randalstown 4 Sporting Ballymoney 1; Waveney Swifts 3 Randalstown 6; Cloughmills 4 Holywell 4.
George McAuley Cup Semi Finals: Ahoghill Rovers 1 Carnlough Swifts 0 (AET); Sporting Ballymoney 0 Michelin 2
firmus energy BSML Division Three: Carniny Amateurs & Youth 4 Northend & District 0; Steadfast 1 Wakehurst Star 5
Montgomery Cup Group A: Braid United 5 St Comgalls 1; St Comgalls 1 Southside Rangers 3
Tuesday, May 10 (7pm) - Ace Cup Semi Finals: All Saints OB v Newpark Olympic (Connor); Ahoghill Thistle v Carniny Rangers (Showgrounds 4).
firmus energy BSML Division One: Abbeyview v Harryville Homers (Forum).
Wednesday, May 11 (7pm) - Montgomery Cup Group A: Templepatrick v St Comgalls (Forum); Southside Rangers v Braid United (Wakehurst 1); Steadfast v Cullybackey Olympic (Galgorm). Group B: Carniny Amateurs & Youth v Ruby’s Rovers (Showgrounds 7); Wakehurst Star v Atletico Antrim (Showgrounds 4).
Friday, May 13 (7pm) - George McAuley Cup Final: Ahoghill Rovers v Michelin (Connor).
Saturday, May 14 (10.15am) - firmus energy Division One: All Saints OB v Harryville Homers (Showgrounds 4); Carniny Rangers v Ahoghill Thistle (Wakehurst 1).