St Joes ran rampant in the A-Grade KO Cup final on Wednesday night at O’Neill Memorial Park to pick up their third straight A-Grade KO Cup, defeating a lacklustre Celtic side 8-1 in what turned out to be a very one-sided match up.
It was heartbreak for the green and white who failed in their mission to win their first KO Cup trophy since the club was formed after a merger of South and Morgan Street soccer clubs, but joy for the blue of St Joes as they continued their dominance in the local competition.
Celtic lined up in a very defensive formation, similar to the one when they achieved a 0-0 draw against Alma in the last league round, but they were not as successful this time around.
The defensive plans went out the window early on when St Joes found the back of the net inside the first 15 minutes. They doubled that advantage just five minutes later. Celtic hit back and halved the deficit after taking control of the contest in the final 20 minutes of the first half and set up a thrilling second half.
“They give us a good run in that first half,” said St Joes player/coach Matt Muscat.
“We were 2-0 up early. Then I think we probably didn’t show them the respect that they deserve and Blake Rogers took over in the middle and that’s when they got their goal.
“We had a bit of a heated chat at half time about controlling the game and playing the way we want to play and giving them all the respect that they deserve.”
That half time chat worked for St Joes. They burst out of the blocks to score their third goal and never looked back. A fourth goal followed soon after and the Celtic back line was rocking. The final 20 minutes saw an avalanche of goals for St Joes, their total an 8-1 victory.
“We pride ourselves on playing out 90 minutes. We really work on pressing and playing at high intensity for the full 90. And I think that showed in last 30 minutes of the game where we really took control,” Muscat said.
With a trophy in the St Joes’ cabinet, focus now switches to completing a league/cup double by winning the 2023 BHSA A-Grade premiership.
“We definitely have the team to do it. Hopefully we can press forward through the year and keep going the way we’re going at the minute and it’ll be a very interesting end of the season,” Muscat told the Truth.
Celtic coach Aaron Cunico was philosophical following the result.
“Obviously, we would have loved to have won, but getting to the final is a win for us. It’s most of the boys first year together and we think we are showing great progress.”
MENS A-GRADE KO CUP FINAL RESULT
St Joes 8 (Riley McInnes 3, Ethan Callegher, Matt Muscat, John Littlewood, Steve Grillet, Ryan Miss)
Celtic 1 (Nick Devoy)
Player of the match – Riley McInnes (St Joes)