Fivemiletown United 1 Windmill Stars 4

Fivemiletown fell at the final hurdle in the Premier Cup, losing out to Windmill Stars in the final. United were bidding to win their first club silverware in more than a decade, but despite Simon Robb netting an equaliser after they conceded early, Stars eased ahead with three second-half goals to clinch the trophy.

Joint Manager Chris McDowell admitted that his side failed to hit the heights of their previous cup victories.

“We never really started,” he acknowledged. “We had a game plan but we conceded within the first four minutes. We managed to bounce back really strongly with a goal, and I hoped that would have pushed us on a bit, but it didn’t.

“We never really got going. We had a wee period maybe ten minutes after that, but in the second half we didn’t really start and we got caught with a second goal from a corner, and then they used all their experience.

“They did everything you want your team to do when you are ahead – kick it out, waste time, lie down, get in your face.

“Credit to them, because that is what it is all about when you are trying to win a cup final.”

Despite the defeat, Chris believes his squad will have benefitted from the big match experience.

“Our squad are quite young and it was a fantastic learning curve,” he said. “Seven out of the starting 11 had never played in a Senior cup final before, so maybe a wee bit of nerves got to them.

“It was a big occasion with a big crowd, and there was a lot of hype during the week because it is 11 years since we have won anything as a club.

“Maybe that all meant they didn’t embrace it the way we wanted them to.”

Fivemiletown will have an immediate opportunity to make amends when they return to cup final action on Friday evening.

On this occasion it is the Marshall Cup Final at Holm Park, Armagh, where they face the formidable challenge of Oxford Sunnyside.

“We are definitely big underdogs, but we believe in them,” said Chris. “To get to two finals in a year is some achievement, and I would just love to get one of them over the line.

“We learn from last weekend, and go again on Friday night, but it is a big, big task.

“The players have worked so hard this season. They train two nights a week and they are fully committed to everything we have done.

“We have had our ups and downs this year, like every club has, but they have always fought back and have found themselves in two finals.

“Let’s hope they can get across the line on Friday night.”