Keynsham keep crown after seven-goal thriller
Last year’s winners Keynsham Town, from Bath, brought the samba swing to the competition with three Brazilians in their line up.
The week-long festival served up competitive matches as the local teams pitted their tactics against the visitors. Man City started the competition on fire with a five-nil blast against Larne, while Keynsham beat Newbridge Predators 4 – 1.
In the final group games on Friday night, all sides experienced a mixture of emotions as the games went one way and then the other, with a single goal in either match affecting who would reach the semi-finals. Eventually Man City overcame a determined Newtownabbey Strikers by one goal. This was a great test for Newtownabbey as they prepare for their Champions League group matches in two weeks time.
The semi-finals saw the two English clubs clash with Keynsham just too strong for Man City and Northern Ireland Development coming on top of an entertaining game with Ballymena. These encounters offered exciting end to end football, played on the ground to entertain the large crowds in attendance at Taylor’s Avenue and Hasslett Park.
Finals day provided junior teams with the opportunity to join in, through the under 12 and under 14 competitions. Teams from Crusaders, Linfield, Glentoran, Mid Ulster and Newington took part in the five-a-side tournament, with Crusaders taking the honours in both sections and Linfield lifting the senior crown.
The day continued with a family fun festival with inflatables and face painters, this created a family atmosphere which carried into the senior finals matches. The Plate final was an all local affair as Newbridge Predators emerged successful over Cliftonville.
The main Festival final produced a great entertaining game for the crowd, Keysham took an early two-nil lead, but the young NI Development team came racing back and were level within two minutes of the restart. With the game going end to end and some great attacking football being played, Keysham scored their third goal, only to be pegged back again at 3-3 by a determined NI team. However a great move led to a fourth goal for Keynsham. The Northern Ireland team worked hard and created chances, in particular Kirsty Maginess showed she was a player to be watched. They had one last chance before the final whistle but couldn’t get the equaliser.
Festival stalwart Kyle Ferguson commented: “This event has grown year on year, with the partnership with Carrickfergus Borough Council and Carrick Rangers, assisted by Barn United showing what can be achieved in a sporting context within Northern Ireland. Next year’s event is already at the planning stage, so we look forward to building a bigger festival in the year the Women’s World Cup will raise the game.
“The event brought a number of benefits to local teams as it enabled Northern Ireland to prepare for their upcoming qualifiers, for Newtownabbey Strikers to prepare for the UEFA Champions League and for local players to test themselves against a high standard of opposition. Allied to that the economic and tourist benefit is substantial to the Borough, with Carrickfergus now well established throughout the UK due to the Football Festival.”