A traumatic day on and off the pitch saw Colts fall short of reaching their first ever senior final – but no-one could doubt the bravery, skill and attitude of this team after such a performance.
With four players involved in a serious car accident before the game – thankfully they walked away with shock the only effect – one had to pull out, one had to come off early on and another player suffered a hamstring injury, all before half time.
And with the referee failing to give a red card for a blatant elbow, awarding what could best be described as a dubious penalty, it really was written in the stars this was not to be Colts day.
But heroic performances across the team could not be overshadowed by the events, not least of all by the heroic Joe Sweeney, who played the full 90 minutes, and Paddy McEvoy, who came on late in the first half and played superbly, despite being in the accident.
The team was reshuffled just before kick off to take account of circumstances and there is no doubt the car accident severely affected players in the early stages and Colts found themselves 3-1 down after 20 minutes.
After Ballyvea grabbed an early lead, Carryduff showed resilience and scored a goal of real quality when Stevie Doherty brilliantly found Adam Shilliday who showed terrific composure in the box to fire home the equaliser with a hard low drive into the corner.
Failure to clear a corner which would normally have been bread and butter for the shell shocked defence let Ballyvea back in to regain the lead and then a penalty was awarded after Rory McDonnell was adjudged to have committed a foul in the box – and they made it 3-1.
Rory McDonnell then suffered delayed shock from the accident and had to be replaced with Calum McSorley coming on and Stevie Doherty dropping back into centre back.
Then the combative Fergus McBride was the victim of a clear elbow from the Ballyvea midfielder and it looked like a straight red had to be shown as the referee had clearly seen the incident. Instead, a yellow was all that was given to the dismay of the Colts bench.
Their frustration increased when Doherty then was forced off with a recurring hamstring injury and Paddy McEvoy came in to midfield .
The Colts were the better team in the second half and dominated possession for long spells, playing some excellent football. They were clearly fired up by the adversity they faced with Chris Curran in particular outstanding – spraying passes around the park – as he drove on alongside Michael Deeny and McBride who both showed great workrate and skill throughout.
Shilliday, James Erne and McSorley’s pace was causing real problems for Ballyvea but on a number of occasions it was only the final ball that let the Colts down.
Any attacks by Ballyvea were quickly snuffed out with Kealan Devlin for the second week in a row putting on a superb display of defending and Paul Maguire winning several challenges on the ground and in the air against the Ballyvea striker who was a good foot taller.
Chris Overend also pulled off a couple of great saves as the Colts pushed forward but there was nothing he could do when a defensive mix up let Ballyvea in for a fourth with 15 minutes to go.
Jonny Henry then came into the fray to make his first appearance of the season and made his presence felt and though Colts never relented in their search for a second goal it was not to be.
Again this was a Carryduff performance that deserves the utmost credit, given the problems they faced, and it is only a matter of time before they start beating the top teams on a regular basis.
Hopefully the Carryduff public will come along and to see an exciting brand of football and get behind the team on a Saturday afternoon.
Colts: Overend, Sweeney, Maguire, McDonnell (McSorley), Devlin, McBride, Deeny, Curran, Shilliday (Henry), Erne, Doherty (McEvoy)