The Dundalk Winter League came to another very successful conclusion on Saturday night last with the playing of the TJ Moore Cup final between Park Celtic and Cluan Enda at Oriel Park. This year’s final meant that a new name would be added to the famous trophy.
An open game with good flowing football was guaranteed as both sides had the same style of caution to the wind outlook. The sizable crowd on the night was not disappointed and it transpired that it was one of the most entertaining finals in years.
Premier Division side, Cluan Enda, set their stall out early as Mark Savage found himself in acres of space but was thwarted by the alert Danny Matthews in the Park goal.
The First Division side then came close at the other end only to see Ross Mulpeter’s effort tipped onto the crossbar by Liam McDonough.
At this early stage, Cluan Enda were having the better of the exchanges and scored the opener through Oisin McGee who found himself unmarked to slot home.
The pressure continued and a second was added from the penalty spot after a mistimed challenge from Matthews led to a penalty which Mark Savage converted.
The signs looked ominous for Park but they were not here to make up the numbers and began to prove that effort will always be rewarded.
Mulpeter again rattled the crossbar and they got their just reward when Stephen McQuillan pulled one back to give them hope.
Almost immediately Cluan Enda were awarded another penalty which would have broken the resolve of Park Celtic but the spot kick was saved by Matthews.
The old adage of this being a turning point was very evident and Park upped their game with attack after attack. The pressure paid off, much to the delight of the onlookers, when Mulpeter once again showed why he was the league’s leading goalscorer with a beautifully flighted shot to the top left corner to send the sides in level at half-time.
The second-half showed no let up in excitement and Park came close as Mickey McArdle brought the best out of Danny Matthews in the Cluan Enda goal.
Savage was again on target to put the Premier side in front again but Mulpeter was equal to the task and restored parity with another well taken effort.
It got very intense with ten minutes on the clock and a number of corners and free-kicks were vigorously defended at both ends.
However it was the little wizard, Owen Armstrong, who turned out to be the hero for Cluan Enda as he got what proved to be the winner after a fine individual effort to break Park hearts.
Despite the best efforts of the gallant Park side the game ended in victorious relief for Cluan Enda.
It’s true to say that football and sport was the winner and both sides can take a huge bow for the entertainment they put on.
A surprise guest turned up on the night, no other than Aidan McDonnell, who along with his friend TJ Moore, founded the Winter League back in 1982 and at the presentation Cluan Enda captain Stephen Woods recounted the early days which started with a meeting in Oriel Park. The Moore family once again graced the occasion and appreciate the legacy their son has left.