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Newry City break through to the Danske Bank Premiership after win over Carrick

Mark Hughes celebrates scoring Newry's clinching third goal at the Loughshore Hotel Arena Picture by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
From Chris Grace at the Loughshore Hotel Arena

Danske Bank Premiership promotion/relegation play-off, second leg: Carrick Rangers 1 Newry City 3 (agg: 3-6)

NEWRY City AFC have made it to the promised land of the Danske Bank Premiership.

What an achievement for manager Darren Mullen and his team and what a story for the club only formed in 2013.

There were emotional scenes amongst Newry supporters last night at the Loughshore Hotel Arena as they celebrated with the City players after last night’s second leg of the promotion/relegation play-off victory over Carrick Rangers.

Mullen’s men had won the first game 3-2 at the Showgrounds on Friday and they followed that up with a 3-1 victory in Carrick to triumph 6-3 on aggregate.

Paddy McNally had opened the scoring for David McAlinden’s side, who finished the league season second bottom in the Premiership, but Championship runners-up Newry levelled before the break through a Stephen Hughes penalty with cool second half finishes from Mark McCabe and Mark Hughes sealing the deal.

Mullen has now guided his players from the Irish League’s fifth tier, Mid-Ulster League Intermediate B, to the top flight where they will take on Linfield, Crusaders, Glentoran and Cliftonville on a regular basis next season.

And all this having, with the help of dedicated volunteers, overseen the formation of Newry City AFC after Newry City’s IFA membership was terminated following a High Court winding up order in 2012.

Hundreds of Newry supporters made the journey to Carrick. It certainly proved a worthwhile trip.

The visiting fans were baying for Carrick goalkeeper Harry Doherty to be shown a red card after just eight minutes when he felled McCabe on the edge of the box down Newry’s left flank. With two defenders covering, referee Evan Boyce made the right call booking the Rangers number one rather than ordering him off.

As expected it was a nervy affair but the tension eased for the home supporters on 29 minutes when Michael Smith’s deep free-kick was brilliantly slotted in by Carrick defender Paddy McNally.

Carrick were fancying their chances of doubling the lead but Newry showed the character they have been displaying all season to hit back on 36 minutes through a well-taken Hughes penalty.

It came after first Doherty had denied Kevin McArdle the equaliser and then McCabe in the ensuing scramble was adjudged to have been brought down by McNally, who couldn’t believe the decision even if most in the ground felt Boyce got it right.

Carrick were stung by that, but were unlucky not to regain the lead when Mark Edgar’s excellent free-kick was tipped on to the bar by the impressive Maguire, who followed that up moments later with a brilliant stop to keep out Mark Surgenor.

Those saves proved crucial with McCabe racing clear to finish in style on 55 minutes after a well constructed move and if that wasn’t enough Hughes was equally as clinical on 74 after a superb counter attack from the visitors.

Carrick are down. Newry are on the up and up.

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