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Horgan’s Hard Miles, Festive Crowds & The South Down Power Exchange

Snippets from the week in in local football....

Northern Ireland u21 international Caolan Boyd-Munce, former Glentoran starlet and the only Northern Irish scorer during the weekend’s FA Cup 3rd Round

Doing the Hard Miles
Interested to spot Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan twice on successive Saturday’s recently... He was at Wilgar Park for Dundela v Dergview, and then on Saturday, I spied the well-disguised (but not well enough) rugged Harps boss again during Glentoran’s Irish Cup visit to Dergview, when I couldn’t resist going over for a brief word.

“Jaysus, you don’t miss much do ya’?”, said the jocular Horgan. He wouldn’t tell me which Dergview player he fancied though. But we think it’s Jamie Browne who scored the Derg’s first goal.

Solitude’s Highest
Crusaders visit to Solitude enabled Cliftonville to record their biggest crowd of the season last Tuesday evening for the re-arranged ‘Boxing Day’ north Belfast derby. The crowd of 2305 eclipsed the previous highest (2105 v Larne & 2054 v Glentoran). The Reds are the sixth-best supported club at home this season so far with an average of almost 1500 through the gate.

Despite the snowy conditions Cliftonville recorded their highest home league attendance of the season last Tuesday night, but unfortunately for the home side, Crusaders won the north Belfast derby 2-0.

Festive Crowds
Still on the subject of attendances... twelve of the last thirteen League fixtures have realized four-figure crowds, the odd one out being Dungannon Swifts v Warrenpoint Town (325). The other twelve games attracted an aggregate of almost 30,000 spectators for an average gate of 2543 (no doubt helped of course by the Big Two fixture at Windsor Park - 8007). Seven of the twelve fixtures attracted 2000+ crowds.

Mean Defence
Crusaders a club that’s been plagued by Covid disruptions and concerns more than most, played three games in seven days last week after not playing for 14. Their three clean-sheets made it five in a row in all competitions as Baxter’s men try to get back into the championship race.

FA Cup Scorer
Former Glentoran starlet Caolan Boyd-Munce - he made one competitive appearance for the first team - was the only Northern Irish player to score in the FA Cup 3rd Round at the weekend. He grabbed Middlesbrough’s second in a 3-2 win over Mansfield Town at Field Mill, just 24 hours after joining the Teesiders from Birmingham City.

First of Many?
Precocious Portstewart talent Patrick Kelly (17) grabbed his first senior goal on Saturday as Coleraine put intermediate side Windmill Stars to the sword (6-0). The youngster has been a regular squad member for the Bannsiders this season, with 11 league appearances to date.

South Down Power Exchange
The tide appears to be turning in south Down. Warrenpoint Town enjoyed an extra time League Cup victory over Newry City earlier this season, but it now looks like the pendulum has swung the other way. City went to Milltown on Saturday for The Mourne Ultimatum in the Cup and returned winners, 2-1. They’re also looking good for automatic promotion from the Championship, and the side they will most likely swap places with appears to be Warrenpoint, struggling at the foot of the Premiership.

Newry City won the Mourne Ultimatum 2-1 on Saturday...

Shield Final
Looking forward, tomorrow evening (Tuesday) Larne will be attempting to retain the Co Antrim Shield which they captured after a Seaview penalty shoot-out victory over Glentoran in 2021. With it, Larne became the 17th different club to win the Shield. In contrast Linfield have 43 titles, the last of which, secured over Crusaders at Ballymena Showgrounds in 2017, was David Healy’s first trophy in local football. The game kicks off at 1945 hrs.