Newbuildings manager Gary Simpson elated with cup final win over Institute
While most people probably think the first senior trophy of the season will be dished out on December 3, when Crusaders face Linfield in the County Antrim Shield final, that honour has already been won... by minnows Newbuildings United.
The NI Intermediate League side lifted the North West Senior Cup last Tuesday night by defeating Belfast Telegraph Championship One side Institute in the showpiece final at the Riverside in Drumhoe.
Co Londonderry club Newbuildings fought back after falling two goals behind to win the match and lift the trophy for the first time in their history.
Manager Gary Simpson said: “We're all absolutely delighted. It was the first time the club had even been in the final of the North West Cup, so to win it was very special for us. I know Institute said before the game that the league was their main focus, but if you look at the team they played, it's fair to say they took the game seriously. It's a fantastic achievement for a club of our size.”
Aaron Walsh opened the scoring for Institute in the seventh minute, before Matthew Crossan doubled their lead on the half hour mark. Steve Curry pulled a goal back for Newbuildings in the 35th minute, before former Stute striker Ricky Lee Dougherty hit the equaliser a few minutes later.
The game finished 2-2, with Newbuidlings lifting the cup thanks to a 5-3 victory in a penalty shoot-out.
Despite going two goals behind, United boss Gary Simpson said his side never panicked.
“Even though we were 2-0 down, I was never too concerned. We were well in the game and had plenty of chances of our own, so I don't think anybody in the ground was too surprised when we pulled it back to 2-2.
“Then, at half time, they had Aaron Walsh sent off on the whistle, which gave us an advantage in the second half. Thankfully, we came through on penalties.”
Like Newbuildings, Institute are also a club who come from a humble background. Stute joined the Irish League B Division in 1996 after a 15-year stint in the NI Intermediate League.
Current Intermediate League champions Newbuildings would like to gain promotion to the modern day equivalent of the B Division, the NIFL Championship, within the next few years.
Gary Simpson explained: “We're hoping to build a new stand, a new pavilion and install floodlights in the future, so we would certainly like to step up at some stage. Next season might come around a little too quickly, but the ambition is certainly there.
“The NI Intermediate League is a tough division. We've won it three years in a row, but we will have to work hard to win it in the future, with teams like Oxford and Strabane playing well. We've still a lot of work to do.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital