Killyleagh pull off great escape

Killyleagh pull off great escape

11 May 2022

KILLYLEAGH YC have completed the great escape and retained their Amateur League top flight status.

The Youth Club will begin next season in the league’s Premier Division after meeting their target of avoiding a heavy last-game-of-the-season defeat to champions-elect Rathfriland on Thursday night.

Killyleagh lost 2-0 on the night but by avoiding a 6-0 defeat it means they sent 1st Bangor OB down alongside Ballynahinch Olympic.

Manager Stephen Lindsay featured six teenagers in his squad for the journey to Rathfriland and they put on an outstanding team performance to ensure survival.

“It is a fantastic achievement for the young players coming through. They deserve the credit for what they have done since they came into the team,” said Lindsay.

It had all looked so different in January when Lindsay took over as manager, assisted by John Murray and Jason Sullivan, as they sought to rebuild after losing eight members of the first team.

“It’s a tough division to play in. We got a bit lucky at times since January but defensively we have been very, very good,” said Lindsay. 

“The signing of Peter Strain, playing at the back alongside Keegan Rice gave us a strong foundation after we lost our attacking options. They have been superb in front of an outstanding goalkeeper in Aaron Carberry.”

While reluctant to single out players, manager Lindsay was quick to praise his young talent who are all teenagers or aged just 20.

“On Thursday night we had Caolan Lennon, aged 17 and Toby Cairnduff, aged 16, coming in, alongside two other teenagers, Sam Carson and Ethan Davidson.

“And the Hamilton twins, Nathan and Conor, have done so well in addition to Declan McComiskey who has scored so many important goals.”

Relegation seemed inevitable after an early run of defeats when he took over from Paul Sharvin but they pulled off some unlikely results including a 3-3 draw away to then league leaders East Belfast and a 2-1 triumph away to Ards Rangers.

Remarkably, ahead of Thursday night’s game, it brought them to within three points of the two teams above them, Drumaness Mills and Larne Tech.

But all was riding on the final game, and yet again Lindsay and his youthful team were able to produce when it mattered.

Now he is plotting to strengthen, particularly in attack, even though he knows that some are already making his young team favourites to be battling relegation next season.