MAIDEN City’s Craig Memorial Cup triumph over Portstewart on Boxing Day completed a full set of intermediate medals for Strabane man Aaron Walsh.
The fledgling North West club defeated the Seasiders 2-1 in the showpiece decider in front of bumper festive crowd at Tobermore’s Fortwilliam Park.
Goals by Darren McCready and PJ Ward secured the prestigious silverware for the Derry outfit in only their second season playing in the Northern Ireland Intermediate League.
Central to City’s meteoric rise has been experienced campaigner Aaron Walsh, who earlier this year helped Northern Ireland to success in the Umbro Cup for the first time in 12 years.
Before the St Stephen’s Day triumph, the gifted midfielder had won every honour in the intermediate ranks during spells at Institute, Ballinamallard, Dergview, Loughgall and a number of other clubs except a Craig Memorial Intermediate Cup medal.
At the ripe old age of 35 the veteran play-maker is delighted to have completed the set.
“It’s the only medal I didn’t have. I had won Championship One and Two and had an Intermediate Cup medal,” he said.
“This is only the club’s second season and to be fair our new manager Colm Cassidy was used to winning when he managed in the Saturday Morning League.
“I don’t think he even realised what a big deal winning the Craig Memorial was until he seen the crowd at the Boxing Day final. He had no idea of the tradition.
“On the day we didn’t play our best or we didn’t play our worst, we just did enough to be honest.”
En route to Tuesday’s showpiece City needed extra-time to see off Strabane Athletic in a riveting semi-final clash at Spamount Playing Fields.
Ward was again the matchwinner in another hard fought 2-1victory which Walsh admitted was the toughest tie in winning the coveted trophy outright.
“That was the hardest game. It was a derby for some people but for me it was the toughest tie for sure,” he continued.
Walsh isn’t the only North Tyrone man currently starring for City this season. Sean Ferry has also be a key figure in helping the Derry outfit impress in all competitions.
The pair have the NI Intermediate League Cup Final to look forward to when City will meet the winners of the Strabane or Trojans semi in the new year and they also have the small matter of Danske Bank Premiership opponents Crusaders in the fifth round of the Tennents Irish Cup at the beginning of January.
Walsh said drawing the Crues demonstrated just how far Maiden City had come in a short time but he admitted he wasn’t particularly looking forward to the trip to Seaview.
“If I had of been 10 years younger I would have been over the moon, not at this stage of my career,” he added.
“To be honest the thought of going there is making me sick. I’ve been there a few times I know what’s in store.
“The young boys are over the moon. They can’t wait to get at it, they don’t realise what it will really mean to play the kingpins of the Irish League.”