Ollie Ralph scored some amazing goals for Newry Town and few were better than the two he registered in this TNT Gold Cup Tie against visiting side Ards at The Showgrounds on Saturday 31st August 1985.
Match report culled from The Ireland’s Saturday Night
Newry showing five changes from the side dismissed from the Ulster Cup by B League Dundela heartened their fans by winning this Gold Cup opener in comfortable fashion.
The Town’s first score came from a corner forced by Joey Cunningham. Jervis McCaul crossed and Ollie Ralph smashed a terrific strike past a helpless Trevor McDowell in 18 minutes.
John Whitten returning after injury hit Newry’s second in the 32nd minute, following a series of passes between Anthony Marron, Ollie Ralph and Joey Cunningham.
This was followed six minutes later by an absolute rocket from Anthony Marron. Keeper McDowell fisted out a corner kick from Jervis McCaul and Marron blasted the ball home from 25 yards range.
Then Ralph showing a brilliant turn of foot ran on to McCaul’s precision pass, beat central defender Ronnie Mudd, side stepped Keeper McDowell and superbly tucked the ball into the corner of the net in the 41st minute.
Ards broke away on the right flank and Alan Doran’s good cross was neatly side footed in by Raymond Hill on the 42nd minute mark.
Ards pressed strongly after the restart and when Stephen Baxter was fouled in the box by Tom Hughes, the same player converted the resultant penalty after 49 minutes.
Disaster hit Ards after 56 minutes when John Hewitt was booked by referee Norman Loughlins for upending Anthony Marron and was sent off for dissent. Four minutes later another Ards player Ian Brown found himself in the referees notebook for taking down Joey Cunningham.
Towards the close Ralph outpaced the Ards rearguard but his rising drive crashed against the crossbar rebounding into safety.
Ards came back strongly in the closing minutes but Town defenders Terry Buchanan and John Cinnamond were solid and kept them at bay.
Result: Newry Town 4 (Ralph 2, Whitten and Marron) – Ards 2 ( Hill and Baxter)
Man of The Match: Ollie Ralph
Newry Town: Harding, Morrow, Cinnamond, Buchanan, Hughes, Ralph, Cunningham, Marron, Whitten, McCaul and Fay.
Referee: Norman Loughlins
The 1956/57 season was an exciting period for The Town when the club qualified to participate in The Irish Cup for the first time since 1939/40 by reaching the semi final stage of The Irish Intermediate Cup.
Newry had beaten Banbridge Town, Glentoran 2nds, and Dunmurry Rec on their way to meeting Linfield Swifts in the semi final. But undoubtedly Newry’s best display of the season came in the 3rd Rd of the competition against a much fancied Glentoran 2nds at Windsor Park.
Glentoran 2nds 0 – 3 Newry Town
Glentoran forced the pace at the start and The Town’s defence was kept busy, however Newry gradually settled down and Glens keeper Boat got down to deflect a strong drive from from Pat Curtis. At the other end Pa Mooney held a real thunderbolt from the lurking Trevor Thompson.
Newry continued to attack, with Stevie Mallon and Pat Curtis combining brilliantly but Boat advanced quickly to save from the latter. Then Truesdale, The Glens centre, half robbed Jimmy Edgar as he was about to shoot.
The Glens broke away as Leeman created an opening for Fraser to Blast into the net, but fortunately for The Town the score was ruled out for offside.
Half Time: Scoreless
Newry went all out for a goal at the beginning of the second half and the pace was very fast. There was little between the teams but The Town seemed more dangerous in attack and this was proved after 15 minutes of the half when Edgar bulldozed his way through and Curtis netted brilliantly from an acute angle – much to the delight of the big Town support.
Newry piled on the pressure and Billy Hewitt beat three defenders in an amazing dribble but Gerry Robinson shot wide from close range. In a retaliatory Glentoran raid, Stanley Kidd saved the situation with a terrific block but was injured in the process and had to go off for several minutes to receive treatment.
The excitement was mounting as both sides attacked in turn but Newry, after 30 minutes of the half, got a crucial second goal when the hard working Stevie Mallon put Pat Curtis through to score.
The Town were now on top and Billy Hewitt rammed in a third goal to complete a great performance.
Newry Town: Pa Mooney, Stanley Kidd, Davy Jamison, Billy Flanagan, Jackie Bowers, Alec Reid, Pat Curtis, Stevie Mallon, Jimmy Edgar, Gerry Robinson, and Billy Hewitt.
By Jim Campbell
Down through the last century of years there have been many brilliant footballers who donned the blue and white vertical stripes of Newry Town/City/ City AFC .
One of the most talented and skilful however, must have been Joey Cunningham from Forkhill in South Armagh. Joey was also a brilliant GAA performer with his native County Armagh.
Joey’s soccer career began with the Dundalk youth academy, and following a recommendation from Newry’s legendary Ollie Ralph, he signed for The Town at the beginning of the 1985-86 season for the first of his two spells with our club.
Joey made his debut against Ballymena United in a Ulster Cup match on Saturday 17th August 1985 – and this match report taken from The Ireland Saturday Night tells us that “Joey Blasts Off With A Cracker”.
Depleted Newry Town, missing six first team regulars, rocked Ballymena United by snatching a shock 14th lead in their Lombard Ulster Cup match at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
And it was Joey Cunningham, the Armagh County GAA star and one of the Border club’s debutants who grabbed the glory early.
The winger latched on to a pass from Ollie Ralph, brushed of a feeble challenge from left back Michael Smyth and slotted the ball past the advancing and previously unoccupied Ricky Adair into the corner of the net.
Newry’s new look team made a lively beginning and they should have extended their lead two minutes after Cunningham’s opener.
Eugene McInerney picked up the ball inside the penalty area, but with the goal at his mercy, he drove a left foot shot against the far post. The ball rolled along the goal line and was knocked to safety by Stevie Conville.
Ballymena, with suspended midfield star Colin O’Neill watching from the Grandstand struggled to put their game together but newcomer Davy McAlinden produced an out of the blue equaliser in the 21st minute.
The former Cliftonville striker accepted a short pass from Jonathan Speak and beat keeper Kieran Harding with a shot from 25 Yards that squeezed inside the right hand post.
Harding was caught well off his line and was not blameless for the goal, but the keeper made amends in the 29th minute when he finger tipped away a fierce shot from Ronnie Burns.
Half Time: Ballymena 1 – 1 Newry Town
It took Newry just seven minutes to regain the lead – and again it was Cunningham who delivered the goods.
The United defence failed to clear a cross from the left. McInerney found himself unmarked inside the box and when Adair parried his drive, Cunningham was on the spot to tap home.
The home side did have an equalising chance midway through the half but McAlinden’s header from Speak’s cross flashed past a post.
Newry introduced another newcomer Stephen Gracey who went close to wrapping up the points with ten minutes left.
However, with four minutes to go Joey Cunningham put the seal on a brilliant and memorable personal performance by completing his hat-trick. He was left with the simple task of knocking the ball into the net after the tricky McInerney had burst through and sent a shot crashing against the crossbar.
Full time: Ballymena United 1 – 3 Newry Town
Man Of The Match: Joey Cunningham
Newry Town: Harding, Saulters, Mallon, Wilson, Cinnamond, Ralph, Cunningham, Moran, McInerney, Fearon, Farson.
Look Forward Now With Confidence – Chairman