The local men’s football season came to a close at the weekend as St Mary’s beat Braddan 4-2 in the Paul Henry Gold Cup final.
With bright sunshine raising temperatures at the Bowl, DPS Ltd Division Two’s first and second-placed sides played out a scorcher.
The league champions started the better of the two, with St Mary’s spending the opening 15 minutes camped out in Braddan’s half.
Despite their almost total dominance, the Saints couldn’t find a way past Harry Callin and the Swans’ back line as they blocked efforts from Joe and Owen Canipa, while Ash Egan’s header found the side netting.
Braddan took a shock lead with their first attack of the game as Joe Burrows got free down the left. He only had Nick Hatton for support but, when he tried to pick him out, his cross caught out Russ Dawson and dropped into the far corner to give the Swans a 1-0 lead.
St Mary’s came roaring back and would’ve equalised almost straight away but for a smart save from Callin.
But the Swans couldn’t hold out for long as St Mary’s worked a good move down their right flank and Joe Bergquist pulled it back to pick out Tar Phumsai. He rifled it into the top corner, giving Callin no chance and levelling the game at 1-1 at half-time.
The second half almost saw Braddan take the lead again in the early stages as Hatton was played in behind, but his tame effort was easily saved by Dawson.
Hatton would soon have a bigger impact on the game as, with frustrations between him and referee Peter Cain bubbling over, he was sent off for something that was said after Cain had gone to sin bin him.
St Mary’s almost immediately took the lead as Nay Halsall’s effort hit the inside of the post and stayed out.
Despite being down to 10 men, the Swans took the lead again through Burrows. A high lofted pass found him in acres of space, St Mary’s wanted a flag but it didn’t couldn’t come and he calmly slotted past Dawson to make it 2-1.
St Mary’s weren’t be behind for long as their numerical advantage came into play, Joe Canipa was fouled in the box and Jamie Skillen, fresh off the bench, made it 2-2 from the spot.
The sides were level for mere seconds as St Mary’s gained control of the ball from Braddan’s kick-off, they broke down the left and Halsall’s whipped cross was nipped in by Owen Canipa at the front post to give the Division Two champions the lead for the first time.
St Mary’s wrapped up the game shortly before the 80th minute as Halsall’s effort was palmed by Callin and the Braddan man tried to keep it out, but could only watch it bounce over the line.
The Swans put up a brave fight in trying to find a way back into the game, but it wasn’t to be, with St Mary’s winning 4-2.
Braddan will be playing Premier League next season and have a good, young squad to build with.
As for St Mary’s, back in Manx football after having to withdraw last season, they have gone up as champions and completed a treble with the GH Corlett Woods Cup and Paul Henry Gold Cup, how high can they go next season?