Carrick fans were pinching themselves as they witnessed their beloved club complete an historic treble with victory in the Intermediate Cup final on Friday night.
Miguel Chines’ 28th goal of the season and an extra-time double from Conor McCloskey helped secure a 3-1 win over 10-man Welders at Seaview. Michael McLellan netted for the east Belfast side who had Mark Magennis sent off late in the second half.
Big-game nerves played their part in a cagey opening 45 minutes when clear-cut chances were at a premium. That said, Welders stopper Michael Dougherty was called into action as early as the third minute when he palmed Ben Roy’s cross-shot on to the bar.
However, a full 21 minutes passed before the next real opportunity arrived in the form of a looping header from veteran Davy Rainey but his effort dropped harmlessly over the bar.
Later in the half Dougherty dived acrobatically to claw away Adam Dick’s header after the striker had done so well to get any kind of purchase on Conor McCloskey’s cross.
Two minutes after the interval Roy’s blistering shot from the edge of the area kept Dougherty on his toes and he recovered well to smother with Chines waiting to pounce.
Scott Davidson’s cross almost caught Neeson unawares, while, at the other end, Dougherty again thwarted Chines after a mistake by centre-back Dan McMurray.
Carrick broke the deadlock on the hour when that man Chines raced on to Dick’s flicked header and drilled the ball low past Dougherty at the near post.
The Gers’ lead lasted just four minutes as Welders’ talisman McLellan bagged his 48th in all competitions after he slotted past Neeson with the help of the upright.
Gary Smyth’s side were reduced to 10 men on 78 minutes when the influential Magennis saw red after he appeared to hit out at Aaron Traynor.
Carrick capitalised on their numerical superiority early in extra-time when McCloskey thumped the ball home with a delightful left-foot shot that zipped into the far corner.
And the former Portadown midfielder wrapped things up late in the first period of extra-time when he showed his class, chipping in a third.
Carrick Rangers: Neeson, Smyth, Traynor, Taggart, Kelly, Roy (Kane 100), Harmon, Cherry, McCloskey, Dick (McConnell 88), Chines (G. Arthur 106). Subs not used: McKenna, Lynch.
HW Welders: Dougherty, Dickson (Middleton 96), W. Armstrong, Harris, McMurray, Simpson, Deans (Devine 100), Davidson, Magennis, McLellan (M. Armstrong 104), Rainey. Subs not used: Spence, Shields.
Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan).