FOOTBALL | Muirhevnamor regain the TJ Moore Cup after thrilling final

Muirhevnamor 3–1 Bay Wanderers

Muirhevnamor celebrate with the TJ Moore Cup after Saturday night’s win over Bat Wanderers

After a break of four years Muirhevnamor recaptured the TJ Moore Cup, the blue riband of the Dundalk Winter League, following a game against Bay Wanderers that will go down as one of the best in the competition’s 34-year history.

From the outset, both sides showed their intentions and set a pleasing standard of football with good off the ball play and crisp passing.

Muirhevnamor’s Stephen Woods had the first chance but his effort was blocked by a last-gasp lunge from Stephen McGuinness and further chances were snuffed out as the Wanderers rearguard stood firm.

Damian McCrink, in the Bay goals, was excellent throughout and kept it scoreless by getting his hand to a difficult corner, the ball coming off off the crossbar.

Bay grew into the game and showed their prowess with some good counter attacking play that had the Blues chasing shadows at times.

However, despite all the endeavour from both sides, the first half ended scoreless, something that hasn’t been seen for a long time in the history of the tournament.

All that changed in the opening minutes of the second period when Mickey O’Kane put Muirhevnamor in front, finishing off a good move.

Muirhevnamor captain Craig Dixon receives the TJ Moore Cup from Seamus Moore (centre), father of the late TJ Moore, and Dundalk Winter League chairman, Brian Keogh

Wanderers didn’t buckle and they gradually upped their game with the reward an equaliser by Joe Woods, the goal coming from an impossible angle with the ball taking what seemed to be an eternity to go in off the far post.

The intensity grew from both sides and football of the highest quality pleased the crowd at Oriel Park.

Muirhevnamor regained the lead through O’Kane when he found himself in possession 20 yards out. Looking for options, he saw saw none and decided to have a go, the well placed shot flying into the top right-hand corner, leaving McCrink helpless.

Bay, however, came back again and had a period of prolonged pressure in which they tested Thomas Mulvey time and time again and they should have equalised when Michael Woods headed just over with the goal at his mercy.

At the other end, McCrink was out bravely again to thwart Mickey Gray and he then got down low to stop Anton Webb but Muirhevnamor got the vital third with a great strike from Woods to secure the trophy and complete a Winter League treble for the Blues.

The TJ Moore Cup was presented by Seamus Moore, father of TJ Moore, and he thanked the league for its ongoing tribute to the man who gave Dundalk the Winter League.

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