PREVIEW | Cleary Celtic to face Enniskillen Rangers in Junior Cup final | IFA

The last piece of silverware this season is up for grabs on Friday evening (24 May) as Cleary Celtic and Enniskillen Rangers lock horns in the fonaCAB Craig Stanfield Junior Cup final at Dungannon’s Stangmore Park, kick-off 7.45.

The tie sees Carnbane League side Celtic take on Rangers from the Fermanagh & Western League after both blazed a trail through the competition to reach the prestigious decider. 

Celtic were first to book their place in the final following a two-goal defeat of Lincoln Courts at Stangmore Park. David Walker and Neil Barr were on target for the Newry-based team and, in the process, secured their place in the junior football showpiece for the first time in the club’s history. 

John Hogg’s side accounted for 2022 winners Coalisland Athletic in the last eight thanks to two late goals from Declan Monaghan and Stephen Hughes, while Castlewellan Town were knocked out in the fifth round but only after a penalty shootout.

Earlier in the competition Sandy Hill, H&W Welders U21, Ballinamallard United Reserves and Ravenhill YM were all defeated by Cleary Celtic.

Rangers, by contrast, have a rich recent history in the competition having lifted the trophy for three successive seasons between 2016-17 and 2018-19, only missing out on a fourth straight victory via a penalty shootout defeat to Willowbank.

Michael Kerr’s side made it through to their ninth decider following a 3-1 defeat of fellow F&W side Tummery Athletic at Ferney Park in Ballinamallard, but the club then faced an uncertain wait following a protest from their opponents which was eventually overturned on appeal.

Nathan Khan, Mark Cutler and Joel Byrne all found the net for Rangers in the semi-final, with Cutler keeping up his record of scoring in every round and bringing his tally to 14 in the Junior Cup alone!

Rangers knocked out fellow F&W side Lisbellaw United in the last eight, reached double figures as Lurgan Town Reserves were dispatched in the fifth round and hit six past All Saints OB before that. Camlough Rovers and FC Moylena were accounted for in the early rounds.

Tickets for the final are priced at £5 for adults and £3 concessions. A cash turnstile will be in operation and gates will open at 6.45.

The game will also be streamed live on the Irish FA YouTube channel.

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