Hero H&W Welders' keeper Michael Dougherty: this is for you, Gary Bownes
H&W Welders' penalty shoot-out hero Michael Dougherty has dedicated his side's sensational County Antrim Shield victory over Glentoran to close pal Gary Bownes, who took his own life 10 years ago.
The keeper saved a penalty from Bownes to ensure the east Belfast minnows lifted the Intermediate Cup in 2002 but the Irish League family was plunged into mourning when Gary ended his life in 2005.
"The last time I was involved in a penalty shoot-out was in 2002 when the Welders won the Intermediate Cup after we beat Ballinamallard United at Stangmore Park," said Dougherty.
"I saved a penalty from Gary (Bownes) to win the trophy but a few years later he was dead after taking his own life and I was really upset.
"We had been close friends and roomed together on international trips. He was a left sided player or striker and was a great lad. Unfortunately he experienced severe depression and took his own life in June 2005 at the age of 26.
"I struck up a great friendship with him and when he died the news hit a lot of people very hard. He was playing for Dungannon Swifts at the time under Joe McAree and I would like to dedicate this Shield victory over Glentoran to Gary, someone who we still miss greatly."
Gary Smyth's side became the pride of east Belfast on Tuesday night when they slayed the Glens 4-3 on penalties after the match ended goalless. Former Glens stopper Dougherty catapulted the Tillysburn heroes into the quarter-finals by saving the final spot-kick from Jonny Addis. "There was no pressure on us and we had no reason to fear the Glens in a cup game," added the 34-year-old. "Gary (Smyth) went round each player before the game and reminded us we had nothing to prove to anyone.
"I thought the two young lads Chris Middleton and Josh Cahoon put in a magnificent shift up front. I spent nine years in total at the Glens under Paul Kirk, then Paul Millar and Alan McDonald and I always supported the club.
"Ironically, I won the Shield with the Glens in the 2007-08 season, beating Crusaders in the final. Glentoran are still a massive club, making it a huge scalp for us."
Ards progressed to the quarter-finals of the County Antrim Shield following a 3-2 win over PSNI. Danny McKee, Gary Warwick and Stephen O'Neill netted for the north-Down men.