There was no fairytale ending for the Down Premier team’s first ever appearance in the SuperCupNI final, as John Bailie’s boys succumbed to a very strong B Italia side.
The Down side were unable to emulate what the Antrim Juniors had done just hours before on finals night at Ballymena Showgrounds and so leave the north coast with no trophy but a lot of memories and a lot of new admirers.
A tense start to the game soon gave way to a period of sustained pressure from B Italia. On 11 minutes Dylan Stewart had to be quick off his line to block the advances of Iannone Carmine.
A minute later and Stewart was called on to make an even better stop when Carmine slammed in a shot from close range.
The Down lines were then breached fully on 17 minutes when Kevin Salvatore nipped through a gap in the defence to poke the ball into the top corner.
Down had been getting little respite but with 32 minutes gone they finally carved an opening at the other end. Sub Ben Cushnie raced into the area and as the goalkeeper committed, the chance was on but a heavy touch took the ball away from Cushnie and the opening was gone.
Down rang the changes early in the second half in an attempt to getting a footing in the game, but in truth this wasn’t the county’s best performance of the week and the Italians’ composure never looked like faltering.
A couple of half chances did eventually come for Down but on neither occasion could Eoin Rooney get on the end of inviting crosses.
B Italia doubled their lead with a memorable strike on 61 minutes. There looked little in the offing when Bingo Marco stepped into the ball 30 or so yards out but his connection on the half volley sent the ball soaring over keeper Stewart to kill off any hopes Down might have had of a comeback.
DOWN: Stewart (Carry 64), Smith, Conlon, Gemmell (Rooney 47), O’Hare, Weatherup, Corbett, Carroll (Curran 63), Dinu (Teggart 53), Glover (McVeigh 63), Wynne (Cushnie 25)