Football/Soccer

Newry claim Mourne Supremacy in Irish Cup derby clash

Newry City centre-back Francis Brennan celebrates his Irish Cup match winning goal against neighbours Warrenpoint Town with team mates Lorcan Forde, John McGovern, Ryan McGivern and Dale Montgomery at Milltown on Saturday Picture: Brendan Monaghan
STEVEN BEACOM

Irish Cup first round: Warrenpoint town 1 Newry City 2

DARREN Mullen was as proud as punch on Saturday. In the Mourne Ultimatum his Newry City side had the Mourne Supremacy in the Irish Cup tie against neighbours Warrenpoint Town.

The top of the Championship team merited their 2-1 success over the Premiership strugglers with a goal in each half from talented teenager James Teelan and seasoned campaigner Francis Brennan enough to see City into the last 16 where they will host Dundela.

Despite poor weather conditions there was a brilliant buzz around Milltown at the weekend with scores of cars lined up on the road outside the ground and an anticipation before kick-off not felt at the stadium all season.

Linfield and Glentoran played league games at Warrenpoint earlier in the campaign but the Cup derby attracted the biggest crowd in 2021/2022 and an atmosphere to match. Newry fans brought their banners and their voices and were singing in the rain after a frantic finish in which substitute Daniel McKenna pulled a goal back for the home side on 87 minutes prior to Steven Ball hitting the bar in injury time from long range.

Had that effort gone in by one of the few Warrenpoint players to perform on derby day and sent the tie to extra time, it would have been an injustice on Newry who were the better side for long periods with 19-year-old forward and Crossmaglen native Teelan a constant threat in attack alongside the excellent Daniel Hughes.

Teelan's 41st minute strike was clinical as was Brennan's back post header on the hour from a Hughes set piece. Newry could have scored a few more. Warrenpoint had chances too in a fixture which improved as it wore on but defensively they were sound and young goalkeeper Niall Brady impressed when saves needed to be made.

Promotion is the main aim for Newry this term but this knockout success was one to savour. On a joyful afternoon Mullen's only pain came when he slipped in the wet and fell heavily on the ground after conducting a radio interview.

"It was a great team performance. I thought all the boys were fantastic. We were super without the ball and nullified them and when we had the ball we hurt them. In the end 2-1 flattered Warrenpoint and we were well worth the victory," said Mullen.

"We are set up well and have players who can pick teams off. Against Warrenpoint we were hungry and fought for every ball and knew how much the game meant to the fans."

On the electric Teelan, Mullen added: "James was brilliant. He did 13.5 km last week against Institute and it's not just a case of running everywhere. It's conditioned running, he knows where to run and he's brave. No matter how many times he is kicked he gets up and keeps looking for the ball. He is a great kid with a great attitude."

Opposite number Barry Gray was disappointed with his team's performance describing it as sluggish but had no complaints about the result.

"Newry deserved to win, we were second best and good luck to them in the next round," said Gray, whose side face a huge home league game against Dungannon Swifts tomorrow.

If Warrenpoint win that it will be a big help in their relegation battle and keep alive hopes of sequels to Saturday's Mourne Ultimatum next season with Newry looking good for promotion.

"Our aim is to be in the Premiership next season and I'd like to see Warrenpoint stay up so we could have more games like this Cup tie. That would be good for the area. Hopefully they'll stay up and hopefully we can do our part," said Mullen.

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Football/Soccer