Gartcairn Academy lifted their second trophy in as many months on Sunday when they triumphed over Eastwood Juveniles to win the Kenwil Print and Design Cup.
Daniel Johnstone’s second half goal was all that separated the two sides at the final whistle in what was a hotly-contested final.
Gartcairn kicked off on a gloriously sunny afternoon at Benburb’s New Tinto Park and both side flew out of the traps in an energetic start to the game.
Each side was desperate to gain the upper hand which resulted in a frantic beginning to the game.
The first chance of the game came when Steven Hastie galloped down the left wing, outstripping the defence and driving towards the near post, forcing Scott Matthews to parry the ball behind.
Gartcairn then responded with a good opportunity of their own. Some slick passing down the left channel released Luke Kelly, who beat his man before cutting the ball to the edge of the box. Josh Moore was waiting but fired his effort straight at Ryan Truesdale in the Eastwood goal.
Academy were enjoying most of the ball during the opening exchanges, with their defence pushing up towards the halfway line in an attempt to control proceedings.
Moore had a chance to open the scoring when Kelly played a short corner to him from the left. The winger beat one defender before firing an effort at the near post, but Truesdale was equal to it.
A minute later Gartcairn went close to finding the net, once again from a corner. This time, Kelly swung the ball towards Scott Burns at the back post. The centre back headed back across goal, but none of his teammates could get the touch the ball needed to cross the line.
Hastie continued to look dangerous for Eastwood and admirably pressed and harried the Gartcairn defence as the first half progressed.
By the half hour mark most of the play took place in the Juveniles half and they struggled to maintain possession, preferring to try and hit Academy on the counter.
Calum Rodger looked particularly dangerous going forward from left back and played a crucial role in Gartcairn’s next attack. A neat pass found Kelly in the box with his back to goal, when the winger teed up Ciaran Reilly. The attacker took a touch before hitting a low shot, which the goalkeeper smothered comfortably.
Moore had another chance to open the scoring minutes later when Reilly’s pass found him unmarked at the back post, but the right winger saw his shot trickle harmlessly wide of the far post.
Gartcairn upped the intensity as the match approached half time, spurning a number of decent opportunities. First, Reilly fired a tame shot from distance wide of the far post. Then, with a couple of minutes remaining, Moore beat two Eastwood defenders down the left before seeing his near-post effort parried behind for a corner.
The referee then called time on an entertaining first half. Gartcairn could probably feel a little aggrieved to have gone in level, but Eastwood would have to improve to stand a chance of winning the cup.