Two of the sides challenging for the W Mills League title face off in the final of the Chuck McGowan Cup as Monifieth Athletic take on Dryburgh CC. Monifieth will be looking to avoid more cup final heartache, while Dryburgh will be looking to add a piece of silverware to their trophy cabinet.
Ahead of the final, YFS caught up with Monifieth manager Dougie MacKinnon and Dryburgh boss Ian Grant, to find out about their roads to the final, their previous meetings and some of their potential match winners
Monifieth were on the wrong end of last season’s J Bolton Cup final as they went down at the hands of St Murdochs. Manager Dougie MacKinnon admits that last year’s experiences have fuelled a run of seven wins and four draws in 11 league games.
He said, “They tasted the disappointment of losing a final and they didn’t like it. For sure, they’ve used that disappointment to spur on their success this season.”
Their run to the final began with a 6-0 win over Kirrie Thistle, before beating St Murdochs Colts 4-2 and league leaders Riverside 3-0 in the semi-final.
“The Kirrie game was not as one-sided as the result would suggest. They’re a hard side to play against as they always pose a threat and are well organised. We took our chances that day and unfortunately for them they didn’t.
“The St Murdochs result was the one that gave us the most satisfaction. We had a stand in keeper that say, Sean MacKinnon, and although he’s not a keeper, he did well. When they pulled it back to 2-2 I thought ‘here we go again’, but the lads all got behind each other and went for the kill to make sure we progressed to the semi-final.
“Against Riverside every lad played to their best and stayed focused. We knew it would take maximum effort from every one of them.”
There has been little between the sides on their two previous meetings with a 4-4 draw on the opening day of the season before Monifieth recorded a 1-0 win on December. MacKinnon is expecting another tight affair when the side’s meet in the final.
He said, “Dryburgh have been the best side we’ve faced this season and I mean no disrespect to the other sides we’ve faced this season.
“The opening game saw us 3-0 ahead at half time and we though, wrongly, that the points were in the bag. The second half saw them reorganise and take up apart to pull it back to 3-3.
“The equaliser seemed to knock our lads out of their stupor and they collectively rolled up their sleeves and managed to get a fourth goal. Again, they came back to get another equaliser and that’s how it finished. A draw was a fair result given all that both sides put into the game.
“In the return fixture, it took a miraculous save from our keeper Dylan Kelly right at the death to ensure we took the three points after Oliver Carmichael gave us the lead in the first half. I would say that we were slightly better on the day and deserved the win.
“I have the utmost respect for Ian Grant, their manager, he’s been there, done it and got the t-shirt. I expect the final will be an absolutely cracking game given the ethos of both teams to try and play passing football.”
Ones to Watch
Dylan Kelly – With nine clean sheets this season, Kelly has been in fine form, and will need to be at his best once again if Monifieth are to lift the cup.
Lewis Kelly – The powerful midfielder is a key component in Monifieth’s midfield. His strong tackling and precise passing have been instrumental in Monifieth’s success.
Ross McDowell – The striker scored twice in Monifieth’s semi-final win and has nine goals in total this season. He will be hoping to add to his tally, and fire Monifieth to cup glory.
Ahead of their big day, MacKinnon had this message for his players, “Savour the occasion, from the minute you all meet up, board the bus, get to the venue, inspect the pitch, warm up and wind each other up. From the first whistle to the final whistle make sure you give it your all and enjoy it.”
Following their seventh placed finish in 2016/17, Dryburgh CC have turned themselves into title contenders. Over the course of the season, they have picked up players from top flight clubs to aid their title bid.
Manager Ian Grant is delighted with what his signings have added to the squad. He said, “They’ve made a big impact and have pushed us on that little bit further. With the cup final to look forward and promotion in sight, they have made a difference.”
Dryburgh’s run to the final has been done the hard way, with penalty shootout victories over Brechin and Lincraig seeing them into the final. Manager Grant was pleased his side held their nerve to reach the final.
He said, “Brechin were tougher than we thought. It was our first game back after a while, so the boys were a bit sluggish.
“The semi-final against Lincraig was always going to be tough. We were two down, then 3-2 up, then 4-3 down and equalised with last kick of the game. It was nervy but I’m glad we got through in the end.”
Dryburgh’s only league defeat came at the hands of Monifieth in December, and Grant is expecting another close encounter when the sides meet for the third time this season.
“Both games were very equal. In the first game we were 3-0 down then game back to 3-3, then a goal apiece later was a fair result. The second game also was tight, but we just couldn’t put away our chances.”
Ones to Watch
Cammy Grant – Dryburgh’s keeper has been a mainstay this season and will need to be at the top of his game in the final.
Kal Duncan – The midfielder has been in fine form this year, netting plenty of goals and picking up several assists.
Ben Millar – The pacey winger has bags of energy and has chipped in with plenty of important goals and assists this season.