Portadown 2 Raphoe 2 (Portadown won 5-4 on penalties)
Portadown goalkeeper Jaime Knipe was the hero as his team made up for last season’s defeat by lifting the Linden Cup in a match that had everything at Deramore on New Year’s Day.
He made three crucial saves in the penalty shoot out which went to sudden death and wasn’t short of controversy like the match itself.
Knipe thought he had won the match for the Ports when he saved Raphoe’s sixth stroke and his team mates dashed over to swamp their saviour.
However it was a false alarm as the umpire had awarded a re-take after Knipe had moved off his line but the keeper saved it as well and then his team mates were able to indulge in a full blown celebration for real.
But there was drama throughout the entire game which included two periods of extra time after the sides had finished level at 2-2 the after regulation 70 minutes.
Raphoe stormed back from 2-0 down and the pendulum seemed to have switched in their favour when the Ports were reduced to 10 men after Stuart Kirkland was sent off for two bookable offences in the 66th minute.
But the Donegal side were then down to nine men in a brief spell during extra time after they had two players sent to the sin bin.
As it turned out there was no further scoring in the additional 10 minutes as Raphoe successfully defended a couple of late penalty corners and then it was the turn of Knipe to take centre stage in the shoot out.
The Portadown keeper was the first to be called into action in the 10th minute when he saved well from Matthew Lecky following the first set piece of the game.
But it was Portadown who took the lead from their first penalty corner when, after an intricate switch, Stevie Johnston slotted the ball home in the 27th minute.
Within 60 seconds it was 2-0 and Portadown looked to be well on their way to avenging last year’s defeat by Newry when Adma Stevenson swivelled at the edge of the circle before firing home in clinical style.
But Raphoe threw themselves a life line four minutes later when Lecky blasted in a penalty corner to make it 2-1 at the break.
Four minutes after the restart, the scores were level as Lecky got his second with a crabon copy of his first and, all of a sudden, it was game on.
The Ports could have made it 3-2 but Johnston’s shot was taken off the line by a defender and then knipe brought off a great stop from William Kilpatrick at the other end.
With four minutes left and the Ports down to 10 men Kilpatrick set off on a terrific run down the left wing but, once again, Knipe was equal to the task saving at his near post.
With the extra amn, the odds favoured Raphoe going into extra time but their indiscipline let them down.
But hey finished the game on the back foot after having two players yellow carded and then it was left for Knipe to steal the show in the shoot out and bring the curtain down on an enthralling contest.
Portadown: (from):Jamie Knipe; Gareth Titler; Dan McKimm; Stuart Kirkland; Zach McClelland; Adam Stevenson; Gregory Croft; Matty Beattie; Jamie Curran; Geoff Edgar; Peter Quaile; Stevie Johnston; Stuart Bell; Jonny Brown; Matty Winter.
Raphoe: (from):Jonathan Rankin; Rodney Bates; Alan Meehan; Matthew Lecky; Simon Gowdie; Lee Stewart; William Kilpatrick; Ian McGonigle; Jonathan Long; Ben Wallace; Kit Reegan; Alex Tinney; Keith Meehan; Paul Stewart; Stephen Cleverly; Lee Coll.
Umpires; Kieran mcGoldrick and Aaron McDonald.