Knockbreda 1 H&WWelders 3: After netting two goals in a Paddy Power Steel & Sons Cup final for the second time in his career yesterday, Harland & Wolff Welders striker Ryan Harvey admitted: “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
The 28-year-old frontman was an inspirational force in pulling back a three goal deficit for Brantwood against his current team in the 2006 showpiece — but even that couldn’t compare to the joy he felt at his latest contribution, to the Welders’ 3-1 triumph over Knockbreda at Seaview yesterday.
His winners medal and man-of-the-match award will now sit proudly alongside the two League Championship medals and two League Cup gongs he has gathered in two and a half seasons with the Tillysburn Park club.
A jubilant Harvey beamed: “It’s funny that I scored two goals against the Welders and have scored the two for them today — these two goals definitely mean more. I’m from east Belfast and I drink down at the Welders club.
“I know what this means to the club, and how long they have wanted this trophy — it is the highest point in my career.”
The striker’s appreciation for what he and his team mates had achieved was mirrored by Welders manager Colin Stanex, who had spent the Christmas holidays preparing the club for their first ever Steel Cup win. He stated: “I am absolutely chuffed for the supporters — there are some of them who have been following us for 30 or more years. And then you have our secretary Fred Magee, who has been with the club for 41 years.
“We didn’t actually play as well as we can, and they put in a good performance, but we just had that extra bit of quality up front.”
Neither side made an immediate impact, with both apparently struggling to come to terms with the third generation surface, despite each having played at Seaview in the semi-finals.
The Championship Two side showed they weren’t just there to make up the numbers as Miguel Chines produced a stylish step-over before threading downfield to Jordan Clarke. Unfortunately for Knockbreda, the finish did not live up to the build-up and Paul Young lashed wildly off target from Clarke’s cross.
Stanex may have suffered the early setback of losing Andrew Dickson to a suspected broken arm after just six minutes, but his side appeared to settle the quicker and deserved their lead when it arrived in the 22nd minute. Harvey broke from midfield before steadying himself to shoot into the bottom right hand corner from just inside the box.
Knockbreda looked dejected as the Welders players, decked out in their limited edition white strip, rushed to mob the striker — but they found a response in the 37th minute. A fantastic crossfield pass from Young picked out Stephen Garrett, who in turn delivered a sublime cross for Chines to nod in at close range.
But ecstacy soon turned to agony for ‘Breda, as a defensive slip-up seconds later allowed Harvey through to send a simple lob over Paul Mateer for his — and the Welders’ — second of the game.
The Welders sealed victory with a 75th minute strike from Craig McMillen.
Knockbreda boss Hugh Sinclair said: “They were a level above us, and we weren’t up to it defensively. I am gutted for the lads because they could have won it on another day.”
H&W WELDERS: Dougherty, McMurray, Armstrong, Harris, Marks, Harbinson, Brown, Magennis (McMillen, 76mins), Harvey, Verner (Todd, 88 mins), Dickson (McMillen, 6mins).
KNOCKBREDA: Mateer, McWilliams (Girvan, 80mins), Crawford, Burns, Matthews, White (McQuoid, 67mins), Garrett, Watters, Chines, Clarke (Donnan, 56mins), Young.
Referee: Graham McIlwarth.