Cookstown YFC progressed to their first final by beating Belfast side Newington YM in the semi-final of the Canada Cup after extra time.
The home team had the better of the opening 15 minutes and passed the ball well, but a well organized back four of Scott, Steven McElhatton, Dardis and Leslie kept them at bay. Poor shots from long range did not trouble Gareth McElhatton in the Cookstown goal.
Cookstown’s first chance of the half fell to Mark Megarry after good play from Philip McGarvey, but the big forward’s shot was blocked. A few minutes later Barrie Kelly hit a superb free kick from 25 yards out that rattled the crossbar.
From the next attack Keifer Scott picked up the ball on the half way line and beat four players with a great run but when he pulled the ball back there was no one on hand to apply the finishing touch and the danger was cleared.
The home team were still dangerous going forward and full back Scott had his work cut out to try and stop their tricky winger. McElhatton made a good save on 27 minutes to keep the scores level.
Cookstown took the lead on 30 minutes when a deep Kelly corner found Megarry at the back post and his header back across found Dardis who scored from five yards out with a bullet header for 1-0.
The home team pushed hard and again some great defending from McElhatton and Dardis at the heart of the CYFC defence kept them out. Nevertheless, the home team drew level on 44 minutes when Cookstown failed to clear a corner and the after a McElhatton save the ball fell to a Newington player who scored from 10 yards out.
The home side had Cookstown under a lot of pressure at the start of the second half and their big striker hit the crossbar on 50 minutes. McElhatton pulled off another good save a few minutes later.
Jordon Glasgow was introduced on 60 minutes and once more the local lads settled into the game after the onslaught from Newington. It was Scott again who was put in behind the home defence but a great tackle from the defender stop the young forward.
Danny McElhatton replaced the injured Kelly on 70 minutes and a fine run and cross from him down the left wing found Megarry, but his header was just wide.
With 10 minutes to go Mark Larmour came on for O’Neill and he linked well with Glasgow who had a shot well saved.
Cookstown were now looking the more dangerous team with the speed of Larmour causing the home defence real problems during extra time.
Scott, Larmour and Megarry all had half chances but their best chance fell to Jordan Glasgow at the back post. The young midfielder rushed his shot when he had more time and the keeper saved.
In the second half of extra time, Cookstown once more looked the most likely to find the breakthrough with that man Larmour causing the home defence some real problems with his pace.
It was he that forced the defender into his own corner where he conceded a throw in and the quick thinking Larmour took an early throw. He found Johnny McKenna in the box with only the keeper to beat but his weak shot was well saved.
The local lads got their goal with two minutes left on the clock. Larmour again forced the defender into a mistake and the ball fell to Megarry who finished into the net from 14 yards out.
In the final minute the home team pushed everyone forward and Gareth McElhatton pulled of the save of the match when, in a crowded box, the forward got a shot away that looked destined for the bottom left corner only for the ‘keeper to somehow get a strong hand to it and push it round the post.
The resulting corner was cleared and the final whistle was sounded to the joy of the Cookstown Lads.
CYFC: G. McElhatton, J. Scott, G. Dardis, S. McElhatton, J. Leslie, P. McGarvey, J. McKenna, J. O’Neill, B. Kelly, K. Scott, M. Megarry, K. McMullan, J. Glasgow, M. Larmour, A. Doyle, D. McElhatton, L. Donaghy
The team are back to league action this week when they play Ballyclare North end away.