All to play for in Cochrane Corry Cup semi-finals
Progression is the key to success in junior football, and no doubt the eventual winners of this year’s Cochrane Corry Cup will view the victory as an important landmark in their continuing journey.
It is a strong semi-final line-up with this year, with Division 2A sides facing up to 2B opponents in both ties. And while the higher-ranked teams in each case have good reason to feel confident approaching the last-four stage, there is also a case to be made for a potential upset somewhere in there.
The first semi-final clash sees Tullycarnet take on Ardoyne WMC at Seaview tonight (Monday, 7.30pm).
In many ways, Tullycarnet have been one of the Amateur League’s ‘teams to watch’ over recent seasons. Their effective blend of high calibre experience and promising youth has made them one of the most formidable forces in the junior ranks.
Back-to-back promotions in their first two seasons in the Amateur League has already drawn favourable comparisons with other clubs who have made steady progress at breakneck speed, such as Immaculata, St Pat’s YM and Crumlin Star.
Of course, the trick is to keep that momentum going, and joint managers Jimmy Birch,Stan Kinnier and Paul Campbell will no doubt see getting their hands on the Cochrane Corry Cup for a first ever time as the perfect way to wave goodbye to junior football and say hello to intermediate football… if they do manage to win this year’s 2A.
Ardoyne will certainly be no pushovers. Having reached the quarter-finals of the Junior Cup, only to be put out by current holders Harryville Homers, they also made it to the quarter-finals of the Junior Shield, where none other than Tullycarnet required extra time to beat them 3-2 in the end.
Their progress in the cup competitions has doubtless affected their league campaign, and with 13 league games still remaining, that practically means three games a week from now until the end of the season.
On the upside, though, lying six points behind their undeniable biggest challengers for the 2B crown, Basement, but with three games in hand, all of their dreams are very much attainable and in their hands.
Not to mention the perfect response to their Junior Shield exit, of course...
A change in Crusaders’ fixture schedule has seen the clash between Kelvin OB and Queen’s University II put back until April 13, at Seaview (7.30pm).
After a disappointing campaign last year, Kelvin OB supporters will no doubt be happy enough to wait for the chance to see their club make another momentous final.
Dixon Park boss Michael Surgeon has already admitted that his side’s capture of the Junior Shield in 2011 was the highlight of his six years in charge, and Kelvin have a chance to repeat that feat again, as they take on Ballyvea in the Shield semi-final next Wednesday at Solitude (7.30pm).
They could still finish strongly in Division 2A, though the cups look to be their best chance of silverware this year - and they will be firing on all cylinders in a bid to secure an unforgettable double.
Meanwhile, a top four 2B finish was always the aim for Queen’s II this season, and, with a decent run of form to finish the season, that goal can still be fulfilled.
Had you asked joint managers Michael Kerr and Simon Frazer if they felt they could triumph in one of the cup competitions, they may well have asked: why not? There is plenty of belief, self-confidence and a togetherness within this group of players not always seen at this level of the game.
If there is any weakness shown by Kelvin in this intriguing semi-final, Queen’s II will be sure to exploit it.
Belfast Telegraph Digital