MAROWN booked their place in Wednesday evening’s Paul Henry Gold Cup final with a 4-0 victory over Foxdale at Ballafletcher on Friday evening.
After an even start to the semi-final tie a cracking half-volley from Kevin Druggan handed the Crosby side the lead and the game’s initiative in the 16th minute.
With both teams struggling to create chances, Dave Brew’s promoted charges didn’t double their advantage until 11 minutes into the second period when Niall Quayle headed in Juan Killip’s corner.
Two goals in two minutes then effectively sealed Marown’s advancement as Dale’s resolve finally began to ebb away. Richard Mulhern made it 3-0 before Quayle added his second of the match to rubber stamp the win with 15 minutes left on referee Alan Cowin’s watch.
Foxdale had only qualified for the Gold Cup semis on Tuesday evening, a 2-5 victory over Douglas Royal the culmination of a fine end-of-season run that saw them pip last week’s opponents and fellow westerners Michael to the fourth and final qualification berth.
Dale took this momentum into the early stages of the weekend’s tie and nearly edged in front when Willie Wood’s inswinging corner forced Marown keeper Mark Kinley into action.
Marown hit back and only some stout defending from Dale’s impressive centre-back partnership of Jack Smith and Matt Venables kept their opponents at bay.
The latter paring were eventually beaten by a moment of magic from Druggan just after the quarter-of-an-hour mark. Young full-back Sean Doyle was increasingly becoming a threat down the left for the Memorial Playing Grounds outfit. His centre into the Foxdale box was only cleared as far as the edge of the area where Druggan was lurking to lash in a dipping volley that gave Dale keeper Stuart Naisbitt no chance.
Marown tried to kick on, but both teams struggled to create scoring opportunities in the increasingly blustery conditions at the wind-swept venue. A dour game developed as a result, with Quayle and Dale’s combative midfielder Andy Chadwick trading chances in the run up to the break but that was as good as it got for both sides’ hardy band of supporters.
The second half continued in the same fashion. Foxdale’s Scott Kermeen’s driving run and shot threatened to break the tedium, but Kinley produced a smart stop to keep out the defender’s stinging effort.
At the other end of the pitch a well-worked set piece saw Marown double their lead. Killip delivered a good corner into the near-post where Quayle was lurking unmarked to head emphatically in.
A midfield battle ensued until the 73rd minute when the increasingly influential Ryan Holdaway carved open the Dale defence with a lovely through ball and former Corinthians attacker Mulhern did the rest finishing with aplomb.
Two minutes later the tie was done and dusted. Holdaway was again in the thick of the action as he embarked on a barn-storming run towards the Dale goal. He was eventually denied by Naisbitt, but the loose ball fell to Quayle who slotted in to all but seal the victory.
Dale continued to battle, but as was the story of their match failed to really test former club-mate Kinley in the Marown goal. Indeed the Brew’s men could have added a fifth at the death when substitutes Paul Timson and Paul Postlethwaite combined, the latter shooting over when through on goal.
Marown Mark Kinley, Alex McQuarrie, Sean Doyle, Michael McHale, Nigel Shimmin (Paul Timson 83m), Stuart Christian, Richard Mulhern (Paul Postlethwaite 83m), Juan Killip (Neil Withers 77m), Kevin Druggan, Niall Quayle, Ryan Holdaway.
Foxdale Stuart Naisbitt, Scott Kermeen, Craig Lemaire, Matt Venables, Jack Smith, Stuart Morrison, Andy Chadwick, Liam Leece, Willie Woods (John Kelly 85m), Stephen Bettridge, Gavin McLaughlin (Liam Cannan 87m). Sub not used Andrew Cover.
Referee Alan Cowin
Assistants Tommy Crowe, Willie Cowley.
Booked Leece, Venables (Foxdale)
Man of the Match Doyle (Marown) Solid game down the left for the Marown full back.
Match rating HHHHH