Belfast Telegraph

Craig Memorial Cup final: Teams out to grab the festive headlines

By Keith Bailie

While the Steel & Sons Cup and the Bob Radcliffe Cup tend to steal the holiday headlines, this year's Craig Memorial Cup final may well prove to be the festive final of the year.

This season's Boxing Day final sees Coleraine Reserves take on Moyola Park at Tobermore United's Fortwilliam Park, an intriguing encounter that pits a youthful Coleraine side up against one of the North West's oldest clubs.

The Wee Bannsiders booked their place in the final by knocking out both Institute and Desertmartin. Johnny Law's men are currently third in the Reserve League, while in the Coca-Cola Intermediate Cup they've knocked out both Newry City and Lisburn Distillery.

Manager Law believes Boxing Day will be a game to remember, for the young Coleraine stars.

“We have some very talented young players, who I am hoping will have a bright future at Coleraine. In cup games this season we've already beaten the likes of Newry, Institute and Distillery, which goes to show what we are capable off.

“The boys are desperate to win the competition, but at reserve team level performance and development is more important. I'll be looking to see a strong performance from our boys, as this cup final is good preparation for the future. They're a young reserve team, with many of them still illegible to play for the youth team.

“It will be a great experience for the boys, because it will give them experience of playing in front of a big crowd, which most of them will have never done before.”

After a number of difficult years, Castledawson side Moyola Park are starting to improve. The Mill Meadow outfit are currently mid-table in Championship Two, while they're still in both the Irish Cup and the Intermediate Cup.

They booked their place in the Boxing Day final by beating Championship One side Limavady United 4-2 in the semi-final, with star striker Chris Dowie hitting a hat trick.

If Moyola can beat Coleraine Reserves, they will become the most successful side in Craig Memorial Cup history. Moyola, like Limavady United and Tobermore United, have won the trophy on six occasions. Coleraine Reserves have won it twice, with their most recent success coming in 1984. Moyola haven't won the trophy since 2006.

The Castledawson club are no strangers to cup success. The won the first ever Irish Cup back in 1881, beating Cliftnville 1-0 in the final.

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