Falmouth Town and Wendron United will battle it out for the right to be crowned champions of Cornwall when they meet in the Cornwall Senior Cup final on Easter Monday, writes Matt Friday.
Recently crowned South West Peninsula League Premier West champions Falmouth and high-flying Wendron, who have defied early-season predictions to sit third in the SWPL table, are set to meet at St Austell’s Poltair Park for a local derby to remember.
Defending champions Falmouth, who won the most recent final in 2019, are seeking their 13th county crown and are looking to achieve a league and cup double on the same weekend, having secured the SWPL Premier West title on Good Friday.
Wendron, meanwhile, are in uncharted territory. Having achieved their best-ever Senior Cup performance in getting to the semi-finals back in 2019, they’ve already gone one better this time by reaching the showpiece match for the very first time.
Their respective league campaigns, coupled with Monday’s face-off at Poltair Park, means the outcome of the final could help determine the winners of any team of the season award, but Falmouth chief Andrew Westgarth feels his opposite number Michael O’Neill deserves it for the job he and his side have done this year.
“I know we’ll probably get the plaudits for winning the league,” he said, “but I think Mike [O’Neill] deserves it for the FA Vase run and where they are in the league with their resources, and it’s his first season as a manager, you’ve got to remember that.
“And to get to the Senior Cup final, it doesn’t get any better surely. It’s great for them and I think whatever happens on Monday, we can both be proud.”
Town are looking to make what has already been a memorable Easter weekend a truly unforgettable one by adding the Senior Cup to their SWPL triumph.
Alex Wharton, Olly Walker and Jack Bowyer scored as Westgarth’s side defeated local rivals Penryn Athletic 3-2 to clinch the league championship on Good Friday, confirming what has felt like the inevitable given the team’s near-flawless campaign thus far, having lost just once in their 29 league outings.
Road to the final: Falmouth Town
R1: W 7-1 v St Dennis (H)
R2: W 5-3 v Bodmin Town (A)
QF: W 4-0 v Newquay (A)
SF: W 4-1 v Dobwalls (N)
With the league in the bag, Town, who have defeated St Dennis, Bodmin Town, Newquay and Dobwalls to reach this year’s final, can now focus on trying to complete a successful defence of their Senior Cup crown to cap off a memorable few days.
“That’s the fine margins of football,” Westgarth said. “We could have easily been on the wrong side of the result [against Penryn] and Liskeard could have won and then the pressure’s back on, and then we could easily lose on Monday and it’s a disaster of a weekend.
“We know what’s ahead of us. We’ve got the squad, the experience, the momentum. They’re going to be no mugs. They’re a very, very good side and I’ve got so much time and admiration for Mike and what he’s done at that football club. It’s going to be a great final.
“I think if people think it’s little old Wendron then that’s not the case. They deserve to be where they are, and to be in a Senior Cup final deserves massive respect.
“I think it’s a game that everyone’s looking forward to and for the boys that missed out [against Penryn], hopefully it makes them more hungry. It should be a good occasion.”
Wendron United stand just 90 minutes away from writing one of the Cornish greatest footballing stories in recent memory.
While their opponents Falmouth have lifted the most prestigious trophy in Cornish football 12 times, the Dron are getting ready to make their debut in the Duchy’s footballing showpiece.
Ten of Falmouth’s 12 titles came before Wendron came into existence in 1986, but this season, regardless of the result on Monday, is likely to go down as the best the Underlane outfit has had thus far.
Michael O’Neill, in his first season as a manager, has led Wendron through their first-ever FA Vase campaign, winning two ties along the way, and a highest-ever league finish is already guaranteed, with Wendron certain to finish no lower than sixth in the SWPL Premier West.
And a historic Senior Cup run that has seen them dispose of St Austell, Sticker and higher-division Saltash United – the latter in a thrilling semi-final last month – can be considered the icing on the cake irrespective of what happens on Monday, but O’Neill believes the trophy is required to make it a day to remember.
Road to the final: Wendron United
R2: W 2-1 v St Austell (H)
QF: W 2-1 v Sticker (H)
SF: W 3-1 v Saltash United (N)
“I’m really excited,” he said. “Obviously the Saltash game was a massive high and with it being a month between the semi-final and the final, trying to keep on track in the league as well as keeping one eye on this fixture has been quite a balancing act, but I’m really excited.”
He continued: “It’ll be massive if the result goes our way. Take nothing away from the progress and the strides we’ve made this season, but in five years’, ten years’ time no-one will ever remember who comes second in a cup competition.
“People just remember the winning teams and the trophies and that’s certainly something I’ve worked hard to get into the mentality of the lads this year.
“It’s not a case of just turning up again, we want to make history ourselves and we’ve arguably got the best chance of doing it in this first season I’ve been here [as manager].
“But it’s only the start and I expect us, whatever happens on Monday, to grow from the occasion and put ourselves into a competitive position from here on out.”
[Featured images: Colin Bradbury & Patrick Tod / Cornwall Sports Media]