In a week that saw the Irish Cricket Team agonisingly exit the I.C.C. World Cup on goal difference, Enniskillen Town United had no such foibles as they travelled up the other side of Castlederg and put six past the quaintly named Spamount Swifts on an emotional Saturday afternoon.
Town will now continue their quest for an unprecedented fourth consecutive Mulhern Cup victory with a home quarter-final against Lisnaskea Rovers. The fixture will be a repeat of last year’s quarter-final tie when Town needed extra-time on their way to three in a row. Let’s hope it’s a good omen!
The splendid Spamount playing fields are directly located in the shadow of the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi – the patron saint of animals -and true to form it was the underdogs who took an unlikely lead after ten minutes. The early warning signs were there for Town. Sean Harper had fired over an early free kick before Clement Gibbs opened the scoring from a Tom McMenamin corner.
The lead was to last no more than a minute. Some smart play from Matthew McAuley released Gary Beckett. His effort came off the post but strike partner Johny Hoy was on hand to slot home the rebound for one apiece. Hoy then fired over from a Beckett centre before Ryan Hanna again released Hoy whose neat lay back saw a McAuley pile driver saved by home ‘keeper Simon Harvey.
Giving as good as they got from their more illustrious opponents, Spamount restored their advantage on twenty-seven minutes. A mix up between Pat Cadden and Gerry Lilley’s Cub leaving McMenamin with the easiest of tap-ins. Mark Sharkey was at full stretch to deflect a Beckett effort out for a corner while the chrome domed Malcolm Crawford really should have done so much better with a free header after a wonderful Beckett free kick put it on a plate for him.
Darren McDevitt failed to control for the Homesters when well placed by Aidan Connolly while Matt McAuley had strong penalty appeals waved away as a first half that made a mockery of both Club’s League standings drew to a close.
Having none of it, Town boss, Rory Judge, immediately reverted to a back three of Stephen Chambers, Crawford and Paddy Beresford. Gerry Lilley’s Cub and Conor Watson filled the wing back positions. Fifty-three minutes and Johnny Hoy joined an elite band of Town “luminaries” who have thrown up on the field of play. Suitably unimpressed, Judge withdrew the bespectacled striker in favour of Adam Breen.
Cue the equaliser. Watson found Frank Wallace whose left-footed strike was well saved by Harvey. Wallace followed up with a near post finish with his right, despite the best efforts of Harvey again. Harvey was then called on to tip over a trademark McAuley howitzer – Hanna headed home the resultant GLC corner for 3-2.
Harvey was again on hand after Beckett’s ball over the top placed Breen six yards from goal before a moment of real quality on sixty-two minutes. The ball broke to Beckett on the edge of the area and he showed uncanny skill and instinct to lift his toe poked chip over a stranded Harvey for number four.
Clearly buoyed, Town were now carving open the Spamount defence at will. Hanna picked up the ball in his own half and played a neat one two with Gary Lynch before seeing his effort turned round the post by Harvey. A long Wallace throw reached Breen whose incisive pass left Lynch on Easy Street. He screwed his effort wide.
Seventy-three minutes and Town made it five. Clearly revelling in his new attacking role, Gerry Lilley’s Cub waltzed through a beleaguered defence and arrowed his shot into the bottom corner for a great individual effort. There was to be some small respite for the hosts – referee, Dessie Kerr, taking a brief time-out to inform them that they would have to play with their numbers on the front of their jerseys if they spent any more time on the back foot!
Lilley was again involved in goal number six. His neat pass found Lynch who in turn released Breen to finish smartly after eighty minutes.
Swifts sensed that it wasn’t their day when their very own “Derek Clarke” saw his late volley cannon off the base of the post. Not even the Duckworth-Lewis Method could save them at this stage. Further chances did fall to Lilley and Lynch but they passed up the opportunity to add to the net run rate as Town declared for six in the warm spring sun.
I don’t like cricket. I love it.
The Town: P Cadden, C Watson, B Lilley, P Beresford, M Crawford, J Hoy, R Hanna, M McAuley, G Beckett, S Chambers, F Wallace.
Subs – A Breen for Hoy (53), G Lynch for M McAuley (60), T Owens for G Beckett (74).
Referee: Dessie Kerr – Another sensible and level-headed performance on what was essentially a quiet afternoon.
Attendance: 17 – A large Away support easily outnumbered the Home faithful by ten to seven.
Top Townie: Adam Breen – Spearheaded the afternoon run chase.
“So You Did Son Moment”: Gary Beckett – Not one other player on the pitch would have possessed the skill or guile to execute Beckett’s audacious sixty-second minute finish. Class personified.
Words from a Song: Dreadlock Holiday.
Manager Watch: A poignant day for all at Enniskillen Town United on their return to action following the tragic and untimely passing of Kieran Judge. Father to Rory, Gary and Toni, all three have created their own pieces of history during a lifelong association and love of the Club.
Current First Team Boss and Town’s very own “My Brother Sylvester,” Rory, will always be remembered, aged eighteen, scoring the winning goal in Town’s never to be forgotten maiden Junior Cup victory of 1994. Gary remains Town’s Mulhern Cup Cult Hero following on from his stand-in penalty heroics of 1996. Gary and Rory are, coincidentally, the only brothers to have won Town’s Player of the Year Award.
Not to be outdone, sister, Toni, (that’s sister Toni, not Sister Toni!) also broke the mould when she became the first woman in the Club’s forty-three year history, to win the Town’s coveted “Clubman of the Year” award in 2013. A Rock within the Club’s Youth Section, the honour was testament to her unstinting work, dedication and personal sacrifice in the face of adversity. Unsurprisingly, it has since been renamed “Club Person of the Year!
However, the torch was first lit by Kieran as far back as the mid-1970s. In an era when tackling was a fine art, Kieran was Town’s unforgiving left back. The sort of defender who would have made Stuart Pearce look like Sister John Bosco! Nonetheless, it was but one aspect of his game, as was evidenced by his subsequent inclusion in Town’s “Team of the Seventies”.
However, it was in his role as “B Team” boss that Kieran cemented his place as an iconic figure to all connected with Town. Taking the reins in the late 1980s, he was at the helm as Town won their first Reihill Cup in 1990. A man who put the “man” into manager, it was in and around this time that son Rory was catching the eye of many a local and, indeed, cross channel Scout as a precocious Schoolboy talent. Frustrated by a perceived lack of opportunity at “B Team” level, Rory, as all disillusioned players do, confronted the manager and demanded answers regarding his ongoing exclusion. Legend has it that Kieran’s explanation was brief and to the point – “You don’t drink son!” Thankfully, the “No-Drinking Ban” was soon relaxed and fourteen-year old Rory was to prove the hatrick hero in a memorable Ferney Park final with Lisbellaw United Reserves.
It was to prove the first of four consecutive Reihill Cups under Kieran’s stewardship. He took a brief twelve month sojourn to play for the Colts before returning to land a memorable Reihill Cup/Division 2 Double in 1994/95. His sides have long been associated with burgeoning Youth under the canny eye of evergreen midfield veteran, Brian “Robbo” Keenan. But perhaps his greatest achievement and, what set him aside from other managers, was his willingness to tap into the unknown and utilise the unconventional. Even the most ardent Town “anorak” would be hard pressed to tell you that long forgotten names such as J.J. Turner, Paul Quinn – the self styled Danny Wallace, Mark Beacom, Barry “Three Lungs” Morris, Neil Cox – playing as a centre forward, John “Coot” Cadden, Niall West and “Wee J” McQuillan, to name but a few, all played leading roles as the B Team annexed multiple trophies under the tutelage of Kiearn Judge.
His final record read five Reihill Cups and one Division 2 Title. Prior to his appointment, the B Team had won one major honour. A remarkable achievement, he also supported Leeds United for good measure!
However, of all the superlatives that have been spoke and written in the week since his passing, perhaps Kieran was best summed up in a short but telling message that was posted on Town’s Facebook Account – “Town to the core. Manager of B Team during extremely successful period but I will remember him as a good friend and neighbour. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.”
Farewell Kieran – hard as nails, Mr B Team and the man who discovered Matthew Dundas!
“Boss, I think I’ve found you a genius…”