gold medal performance from Anglesey’s football men was written in the stars

Ynys Môn line up before the men’s final. Back row (left to right): Cai Powell-Roberts, Alex Jones, Jordan Taylor, Tom Taylor, Jay Gibbs, Paul Pritchard (capt). Front (l-r): Mel McGinness, Ryan Taylor, Liam Morris, Sam Jones, Dean Garmey. Pic: Dai Sinclair

The script could not have been written better.

Before last Friday’s 2019 Inter-Island Games men’s football final at Holyhead, the last Ynys Môn team to win the tournament, back in 1999 in Gotland, was presented to the crowd.

It seemed fitting that on the 20th anniversary of that great achievement, the class of 2019 were to repeat the feat on home turf in front of 3,020 spectators.

Those in attendance had already been served the hors d’oeuvre, a women’s final that saw an heroic Ynys Môn side, who had defied the odds to reach that stage, lose narrowly to the Isle of Man.

Could the men go one better? It was written in the stars.

Veteran keeper Paul Pritchard, one of Anglesey’s greatest ever glovesmen, had already announced before the final he was retiring from Island Games combat.

What a way it would be for him to go out – as a tournament winner.

As things turned out, captain Pritch did not just lift the trophy, he was also man of the match after a trademark penalty save and a series of other great stops over the 90 minutes.

While the keeper may have edged it as the number one hero of the day, every other player representing Ynys Môn ran him close.

Because one thing is for sure, this was a team effort in every sense of the word.

The way these lads battled for each other, never took their eye off the ball was positively inspirational.

Mel McGinness (No10) grabbed a memorable winner for Anglesey. Pic: Dai Sinclair

Mel McGinness, who grabbed the late winner at the New Stadium, summed it up best when he mentioned after the game some of the 20-man squad had not played any minutes during the competition.

Mel said this created a special incentive for those on the park to win the tournament for those who didn’t quite make the field. That summed up the togetherness of this squad perfectly.

Any Welsh Premier (or higher standard league) scouts watching on could only have been impressed.

McGinness himself landed a move to Huws Gray Alliance Porthmadog two days after the final, while quality players such as Tom Taylor, Liam Morris, Jay Gibbs and Sam Jones only did their chances of progressing higher some good.

The finishing was fantastic. Ynys Môn did not score as many goals as some other teams, but they hit the target when it mattered, McGinness, Jones and Morris. whose volleyed equaliser against Guernsey in the final was sublime, were all razor sharp.

Ynys Môn keeper Paul Pritchard produced a crucial first-half penalty save. Pic: Dai Sinclair

Few can dispute the best team won the men’s tournament.

Guernsey began the final quite well, taking a fifth-minute lead, but the heroics of Pritchard kept it at 1-0 until midway through the second half, then when Morris levelled there was only ever going to be one winner.

It was fitting that McGinness delivered the killer blow, as he typified the determination of the Ynys Môn unit.

The overall aim of the week was to show Anglesey off as an ideal location to stage the full Island Games in 2025.

What occurred has surely boosted their hopes, and a massive bonus came in the shape of the gold and silver medals won by the men’s and women’s teams.

Everyone who played a part in these Games showed Ynys Môn in a glorious light.

Take a bow each and every one of you.

Ynys Môn men’s journey to glory

Group A: Ynys Mon 2 (Mel McGinness, Liam Morris) Western Isles 1 (Robert Shirkie)
Group A: Ynys Môn 3 (Jay Gibbs, Mel McGinness, Sam Jones pen) Orkney 1 (Liam Delday)
Group A: Ynys Môn 1 (Liam Morris) Jersey 0
Ynys Môn 2 (Sam Jones 2) Shetland Islands 1 (Ronan Grant)
Isle of Man 2 Guernsey 3
Men’s final – at Holyhead Hotspur
Ynys Môn 2 (Liam Morris 67, Mel McGinness 84) Guernsey 1 (Keanu Marsh 5)
3 – Mel McGinness, Liam Morris, Sam Jones
1 – Jay Gibbs

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