Johnny Taylor produced an inspirational performance which saw Newry blast their way into the Linden Cup Final on New Year’s Day, as they hammered North Down 4-1 at Stormont on Sunday.
But the game was marred by a series of green, yellow and red cards, which did not reflect the spirit of the game in which both teams served up a superbly entertaining semi-final.
Taylor opened the score for Newry when he drilled home Newry’s first penalty corner of the game.
For the next 20 minutes, North Down peppered the Newry circle as they went for the equaliser and on 22 minutes, Andy Forrest blasted the ball wide off the upright when it looked easier to score.
And two minutes later, Tom Donnan smashed the ball off the Newry crossbar.
With less than five minutes of the half remaining, Taylor went off on a solo run to cut into the North Down circle, only to be thwarted by the whites keeper Gareth McBride.
Somehow Newry were still in the lead going into the turn but minutes into the second half, Chris Speers levelled it with an unstoppable penalty corner which flew into the net.
Then came the cards. On 40 minutes, Andy McGimpsey was sin-binned for a harsh tackle on Taylor but three minutes later, Taylor followed him to the sin bin when he too was carded.
With North Down enjoying a period of sustained pressure, Newry burst to the other end to restore their lead, this time David England slotting the ball home.
Then with all the players back on the pitch, McGimpsey harshly got his second yellow card in the 56th minute, to reduce North Down to 10 men.
And with that, Newry punished them as Taylor grabbed his second and Newry’s third with a well executed penalty corner.
And minutes later with North Down down to nine players, as Mark Linter was in the sin bin, Robert Irwin smashed home Newry’s forth goal to send the south Down side into the final.
Speaking after the game, Newry captain Colin Henning said: “I thought it was a great game as both teams came out of their traps very quickly but the heavy shower of rain dampened it a bit.
“I think the cards ruined the game slightly, but we are delighted to be in the final.”