Down thirds scored first in this Strabane Cup final, but ended up on the wrong side of a 3-1 scoreline.

But the young players can be proud of their efforts and with so much talent coming through, the club is in safe hands for the foreseeable future.

The fact the thirds reached the final is particularly remarkable as they were only readmitted to the league last October. Under the guidance of Trevor Lennon and the on-field leadership of David Gibson, they have let no one down and the players should be proud of their efforts.

Skipper James Cunningham can be proud of his players and the future at the club is bright with the likes of young guns Stewart Clydesdale, Gavin Laverty, Richard Tarbotton, Philip Moreland, Stephen Strain and Clifford Lennon set to become regulars in the second and first elevens in seasons to come.

Down started brightly with the experienced Cecil Telford causing all sorts of problems on the left wing, whipping his trademark dangerous crosses into the penalty area almost at will.

He gave his marker a torrid time and was unlucky to end up on the losing side after a pulsating 70 minutes.

Lisnagarvey, who arrived with 19 players for the final, were a far different outfit from the one defeated at Malone Park on a few weeks ago. Gone were the majority of the youngsters who were replaced by an experienced band.

Down's Clifford Lennon produced the first great tackle of the game in the third minute when he broke up a dangerous looking move, while at the other end, Philip Brown produced Down's first shot on goal in the seventh minute. His powerful effort looked destined for the back of the net before it was saved by the 'keeper.

The impressive Richard Tarbotton and Stephen Fitzsimons combined to set up a half chance for Brown minutes later.

The best chance of the opening exchanges came in the 17th minute when Moreland found himself with just the 'keeper to beat after he was picked out with a superb pass from Telford. Moreland only half-controlled the ball as he attempted to sweep it into the net and the chance was gone.

Three minutes later however the Down supporters were able to warm their hands on a bitterly cold day when the Malone Park side took the lead. Telford's short corner strike cleverly picked out Cunningham at the near post and he deflected the ball into the net.

At the other end, Clydesdale produced two kicked clearances and a produced a smart double save, but the second rebound fell at the feet of a Lisnagarvey player who scooped it into the net.

Into the second half and Down almost made it 2-1 with a carbon copy of the first goal from a short corner, only this time the 'keeper got his toe to Cunningham's effort to deflect it wide.

While Lisnagarvey scored another two goals, Strain went close as did Cunningham again, but it was the experienced opposition which emerged victorious.

Congratulations to the thirds on a magnificent effort in reaching the final and here's hoping they’ll be back next year.