Fourteen year old Wallace schoolboy, Andrew O’Hare, gave his mum an early Christmas present, when he scored the winning extra time goal, in yesterday’s pulsating McCullough Cup Final at Hillsborough.
O’Hare’s mum is the principal of Wallace High and she couldn’t have asked for a better present with her son scoring the all important winner.
Wallace have been waiting for 25 years to renew their acquaintance with the McCullough Cup and at last the long wait is over.
A two minute silence was observed as a mark of respect to Sam McCullough, who regrettably passed away last month.
With only four minutes on the clock, Ross Kelly broke into the Friends circle to see his shot deflected over the bar by Ulster under18 keeper and Man of the Match, James Milliken.
Milliken was in outstanding form as he thwarted everything that Wallace could throw at him and in the final minutes of the first half, he kept Friends in the game saving superbly from Daniel Nelson and Murray in quick succession.
Friends were struggling to stay in the game and it was not until just before the interval that they made Fraser Rodgers make his first save of the game from Martyn Bothwell. The second half had only got underway when Murray sliced his way into the Friends circle, only to see his shot brilliantly saved by Milliken.
In the 45th minute, Wallace at last found a way past Milliken to take the lead. It came from their fifth penalty corner which saw Kelly switch with Murray for the later to drive the ball home.
And three minutes later, Wallace doubled their lead when Jack Wilson presented the ball to Daniel Nelson who drilled the ball off the back boards.Two up and in the ascendency, it looked like Wallace were going to cruise to victory but Friends had other ideas.
In the 51st minute, Aaron Martin went off on a solo run, cutting past several Friends defenders to smash the ball past Rodgers to make it 2-1
And minutes later, the Wallace drums were silenced when Adam Marshal levelled the score with a solo effort.
With two minutes remaining, Jack Wilson could have made a name for himself when he went one on one with Milliken but it was Milliken who had the final say, diving brilliantly to send the game into extra time. As extra time got underway, Henderson flashed the ball past the Friends upright but just before the end of the first period, Wallace got the breakthrough.
Kelly drilled the ball into the Friends circle and for once Milliken made a rare mistake when he blocked the ball and as it fell to O’Hare he pounced on it and in a flash dispatched the ball into the net, to send the Wallace fans ecstatic.
Wallace captain Ross Kelly said: “It was such a hard game and they made us play right to the end. I think we are all busted, we gave everything.
“I can’t be more proud of the lads this is reward for the effort they have put in since August. It’s just unbelievable.
“We took the game by the scruff of the neck but we let them come back into the game as we were looking a bit tired but credit to the guys they dug in and we did it.”