Mini FC (Por)




The Blackouts (Ire)

* Mini FC (Por) won 3-2 on penalties.

After 35 games of football in the Veterans competition we only had one more to play - The 2015 Algarve Veterans Tournament Cup Final.

What a Cup Final we had in prospect! We had two teams who had both excelled throughout the day and I don't think anyone could argue that they didn't deserve to be in the Final. We had four exceptional teams reach the Semi-Finals but now just two remained to fight it out. We also had the exciting back story of The Blackouts who narrowly missed out on glory last year trying to avenge that defeat and go all the way here in Portugal.

The two teams;

The Blackouts: Played 6, won 6. They had scored 11 goals along the way and conceded just two. In fact, take this record back to their debut in Mallorca and it reads Played 12, won 10, drawn 1, lost 1 with 26 goals scored and just 4 conceded – formidable.

Mini FC: Played 6, won 5, lost 1 today. They had scored 13 goals and conceded three.

As you can see there was really not much in it – these were the top two scoring attacks on the day and, after Belfast Space Monkeys, had the best two defences in the tournament.

The game was underway and the two teams looked as evenly matched on the pitch as they did on paper. The first goal of the game was preceded with a little controversy to it as The Blackouts were attacking with a ball over the top. Mini FC's goalkeeper came rushing out and as The Blackouts forward looked to finish the ball was saved by the goalkeeper but outside the area. We were dead in front of the incidence and it was hard to say if it hit the goalkeeper in the mid-rift or it was handball. The referee was a little bit blindsided. There was no question the goalkeeper was out of the area but did it hit his hands? If so, The Blackouts could have been a man up. Shortly after Mini FC went up the other end and scored through Binlo's fourth goal of the day. Half-time, 1-0 to Mini FC.

This was the first time The Blackouts had fallen behind today so how would they react? Pretty well is the answer. They had a lot of the play and the pressure but Mini FC defended well. Then, the big moment. Shane Cox was found out on the right wing and with Mini FC set-up for a cross he scored from a tight angle in at the far post to make it 1-1. It was his sixth goal of the day and surely none more valuable than this one.

There was the odd half-chance at either end afterwards but nothing to trouble the scorers and it was 1-1 at full-time. A penalty shoot-out would decide the Veterans tournament for the first time.

The Blackouts would strike first and up stepped Shane Cox. Hero with the equalizer and was so unlucky to see his well struck penalty rebound back off the post. Binlo, also a scorer in the game, was up first for Mini FC and he coolly slotted home. The pressure was on Darragh Cox as he stepped up – simply had to score. He did, putting it in the same spot as Binlo had done before. Pedro Santos, 2 goals in the Semi-Final, stepped up for Mini FC and swept the ball home into the bottom corner to maintain the home team's advantage.

Into the final round of penalties and it was Ronan Gilligan who had the honours. He struck the ball home but in his eagerness had not waited for the referee's whistle. As calls from the watching galleries called for him to put it in the same spot – he duly obliged 2-2. If Paulo Aquino could find the net, as he had done 4 times already today, then the title would be Mini FC's. Noelly Holland in The Blackouts goal pulled a rabbit out the hat and saved the penalty that kept The Blackouts in it.

We were now into sudden death. Andy Gilligan was up first – missed. But….more drama…he'd not waited for the referee's whistle so had another chance. This time he banged it home but had not waited for the whistle again. So, third time lucky – the penalty was a legal one but it struck the keeper on the shoulder and bounced clear. Mini FC had a second chance to win the title. Viton Silva stepped forward, went for power and made no mistake.

The Blackouts can feel very unfortunate that they came away with Runners-Up medals instead of Winners medals for a second season in a row – and so close on both occasions. There was some consolation for Shane Cox as he picked up the tournament top goalscorer award with his 6 goals in the campaign. The Blackouts have now provided the top goalscorer in each of the last two years.

Mini FC became the third team to claim glory at a Veterans Tournament following the success of Sao Marcos in Lisbon 2013 and Palmesanos in Mallorca 2014. The Veterans Tournament will soon be scheduled for 2016 and we hope you can all join us next year.

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