Newry in dreamland as Carrick face long road back to the top
Carrick Rangers 1 Newry City 3
What a fairytale. The dream has come true. Newry City AFC will be playing in the Danske Bank Premiership next season.
To think that it was only five years ago that the club was formed. Well, come August they will be playing in the big league with the likes of Crusaders, Coleraine, Linfield, Glentoran and Cliftonville.
No wonder Newry manager Darren Mullen couldn't take the smile off his face after the border outfit's 3-1 victory at Carrick Rangers last night earned them a famous 6-3 aggregate success in the promotion/relegation play-off.
It was a dreadful evening for David McAlinden's Carrick side who will drop to the Championship. For Newry though the only way is up.
The home side took the lead through Patrick McNally, but Newry would not be denied their top flight ambition with a Stephen Hughes penalty levelling things before the break and Mark McCabe and Mark Hughes producing superb finishes in the second half much to the joy of hundreds of Newry fans who had made the journey.
Remember that in 2012 Newry City's IFA membership was terminated following a High Court winding up order.
The fans of that club had no-one to support but Mullen and a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers went about building a new club at the Showgrounds, founding Newry City Athletic Football Club in March 2013.
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Since then marvellous Mullen has taken his players from the Irish League's fifth tier, Mid-Ulster League Intermediate B, to the promised land.
When the final whistle blew last night, the Newry faithful poured on to the pitch to celebrate with the team who had done them proud.
It was no surprise that tension was in the air during a match with so much at stake.
Carrick struck first on 29 minutes when McNally fired home from Michael Smith's free-kick. Then came the Newry comeback seven minutes later - they are good at those.
Carrick goalkeeper Harry Doherty saved from Kevin McArdle just before McNally brought down McCabe in the box with Hughes remaining calm to slot home from the spot.
On 55 minutes McCabe was next to show his composure, racing clear to net a crucial goal, and on 74 minutes Hughes was equally adept with his finishing after a slick counter-attack.
Newry goalkeeper Stephen Maguire made several outstanding saves throughout.
Mullen was jubilant, stating: "This is fantastic for the club and everyone who worked so hard to get it up and running.
"I'm delighted for our fans and all the people who have made this possible."
newry won 6-3 on aggregate
CARRICK RANGERS: Doherty, Smyth, Edgar, Surgenor, McNally, Chapman, Taggart, Smith, Hassin, Henderson, McNulty. Subs: Glackin for Hassin (70), McAllister for Smith (70). Subs not used: Morrow, Mooney, Gage.
NEWRY CITY: Maguire, Noonan, King, Mooney, Boyle, McCann, Hughes, Carville, McCabe, McArdle, Hughes. Subs: Johnston for McArdle, (81),Mullen for Carville (89), Walker for Hughes (90). Subs not used: McCaul, McMahon.
Referee: Evan Boyce
Man of the Match: Stephen Maguire (Newry City).
Match rating: 7/10.