It's trebles all round as happy Carrick Rangers rejoice
H&W Welders 1-3 Carrick Rangers
Carrick Rangers completed the intermediate treble with a sensational extra-time victory over Harland & Wolff Welders at Seaview last night.
The Rangers won the Intermediate Cup thanks to two stunning extra-time goals from midfielder Conor McCloskey. The 3-1 success completes an incredible season for the Taylor's Avenue club, who had already secured both the Belfast Telegraph Championship and the Steel & Sons Cup.
The best chance of a dreary first half came in the 37th minute when McCloskey flighted in a wonderful cross from the right after a sustained spell of pressure from Carrick. Striker Adam Dick powered his header towards goal but Michael Dougherty produced a fine save.
Miguel Chines had a golden chance to score the opening goal in the 57th minute when he was put clean through, but Dougherty smothered the ball as the Portuguese forward tried to round him. Seconds later, McCloskey's low shot was flicked towards goal by Chines, but it was cleared off the line.
Chines got his goal three minutes later. A long kick forward from Brian Neeson was flicked on by Dick. The header sent Chines through on goal, and this time the former Knockbreda man made no mistake. He drilled his low shot into the net.
The Welders almost equalised two minutes later when Dan McMurray headed a Mark Magennis pass towards goal, but Neeson produced a top-class save to maintain Carrick's lead.
Neeson could do nothing about the Welders' next effort on goal, which came in the 64th minute. Paul Dickson picked out Michael McLellan, who evaded the Carrick defence to find himself in acres of space.
The Championship's top scorer kept his cool to guide the ball past Neeson and into the net, via the far post.
The Welders were reduced to 10 men in the 78th minute. Talented midfielder Magennis flicked the ball past Aaron Traynor, before needlessly striking the Carrick full-back in the face. Referee Evan Boyce produced a red card after consulting with his fourth official.
In the first minute of extra-time, Carrick midfielder Kyle Cherry split the Welders defence with a fine forward pass, which McCloskey controlled before blasting the ball into the net from 15 yards out with a superb finish.
If McCloskey continues this fine form, he will have no issues adjusting to the rigours of the Premiership.
McCloskey added a third in stoppage time at the end of the first half of extra-time. Once again Cherry was the provider, picking out McCloskey, who chipped the ball over Dougherty from the edge of the penalty box. It was another fine finish from the former Portadown man.
This 3-1 victory was a fitting finish to a tremendous season for Carrick, who became the first team to complete the top intermediate League, Steel & Sons Cup and Intermediate Cup treble since Jimmy Feeney's Larne managed it in 1970.
If Carrick can take this form into the Premiership, they might cause a few upsets.
CARRICK RANGERS: Neeson, Smyth, Taggart, Kelly, Traynor; Roy (Kane 100), Harmon, Cherry, McCloskey, Dick (McConnell 88), Chines (Arthur 106)
Subs not used: McKenna, Lynch
H&W WELDERS: Dougherty, Dickson (Middleton 96), McMurray, Simpson, Harris, W Armstrong, Deans (Devine 100), Davidson, Magennis, Rainey, McLellan (M Armstrong 104)
Subs not used: Spence, Shiels,
Referee: Evan Boyce