Connah’s Quay Nomads boss Neil Gibson dreams of more JD Welsh Cup success after previous historic wins

This is Neil Gibson’s second season in charge of Connah’s Quay, and on Sunday, he has an opportunity to complete his own trilogy.

Last summer was one of change in Flintshire, with a change of home and players leaving.

All of that being said, the Nomads managed a second-place finish in the JD Cymru Premier, an achievement that Gibson is proud of.


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“I think our season has been magnificent. It’s been a real overachievement really. Because of history, we are expected to be the closest challengers to TNS, and there’s a lot of talk about other clubs being in transition, but we’ve been in a massive transitional period in the last twelve months. 

“We’ve moved grounds, some highly experienced players have moved on, and we found ourselves at the start of the season with only Mike Wilde, John Disney, and Aron Williams as the only members left of that title winning team. New players have come in at a different age who’ve got a lot to prove, and they’ve been excellent in the way they’ve gone about that.”

Now the JD Cymru Premier campaign has come to an end, focus shifts to the JD Welsh Cup, a competition Gibson has had a lot of success in.

Straight away, we go to Prestatyn, and their fairytale run to the trophy in 2013. As a Prestatyn native, the memory sits right at the top of Gibson’s career.

“There’s been stuff about that win on social media this week, and it takes me straight back there. Prestatyn was the place where I was brought up on football. My parents were involved with the club when I was growing up, and then I became a player-manager at the age of 25. To be in tier three and to go on that journey of winning the Welsh Cup within five to six years and getting to play in Europe; that’s special.

“We were underdogs against a Bangor team that were very competitive and had won the league a couple of seasons earlier. It was such a great occasion, and one for the whole community. Winning it with Connah’s Quay was also a special moment though when I was assistant manager. If we can win it on Sunday, then for me, it’s almost like completing the set, having won it as a player-manager and an assistant.”

One as a player-manager, one as a coach, and now on Sunday, Gibson has a chance to win one as a manager.

The only thing standing in his way are The New Saints, an opponents the manager regards as the biggest hurdle.

“TNS are the ultimate test. A lot of credit has to go to what they’re trying to build off the pitch with what they want to look like as a full-time club. Craig coming back has really driven that relentlessness in how they go about things and being the best team in Wales. However, over a 90-minute period, we’ve kind of proven that we can go head-to-head with them. 

“We were really good for 90 minutes against them on Sunday and probably should have gone on to win that game but lost it in the last few minutes. The players are full of confidence off the back of that, and it gives us a great fighting chance against them on Sunday.”

This year’s JD Welsh Cup final takes place at Newport County’s Rodney Parade for the first time, and Gibson is excited to lead his team out at a historic venue.

“Newport County are a great Welsh football club and Rodney Parade has held some really high-profile games in recent times, especially in the cup. They’ve played against the likes of Manchester United, and it’s a really good stadium for this final to be played in, and the players are really looking forward to playing there.”

A game against the reigning champions is certainly a challenge, but for Gibson, a win on Sunday would be vindication for the work everyone at the club has done all year round.

“I’m the type of manager who likes to build a group, a togetherness, and a culture. It’s only my second full season at the club, but I feel we’ve built a fantastic squad of players and staff. We set some targets at the start of the season. One of them was to finish second, and the other was to win the Welsh Cup. If we do it, it would be a little bit of accreditation for the hard work that goes into it. 

“It’s seven days-a-week, 52 weeks of the year. The season will end on Sunday, but four weeks later, we’ll be back in pre-season and preparing for Europe. If this group wins the trophy, it will be such a testament to them as people for the work we’ve all done over the last two years.”

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The Story So Far

The JD Welsh Cup from the qualifying rounds to the final

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