Dramatic finish as Reds perform Minor miracle

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Tuesday, September 29th, 2015
Community, Sport
DOWN ALL-COUNTY MINOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP – SEMI FINAL ROSTREVOR MINORS 1-07 – 1-06 CUMANN PHEADAIR NAOFA By Kieran McNally at St. Mary’s Park, Burren. Rostrevor found something special to grind out victory with three stoppage-time points at the end of a titanic tussle with neighbours Warrenpoint in last Monday night’s championship semi-final at Burren.
Minors stand united in the Football Championship Semi-Final

Minors stand united in the Football Championship Semi-Final

In a contest in which scores were hard to come by, the Reds managed to rally with scores from Blain McGrath, Conall Gordon, and finally Joseph Morgan; turning seemingly certain defeat into the most unbelievable win. Given the testing circumstances and recent events, the young side deserve immense credit for the character and courage which they showed in the closing stages to secure a place in the final with Newry Shamrocks in a fortnight’s time. Showery weather throughout the hours leading up to the game resulted in slippery conditions for both sets of players and that resulted in an error-strewn; yet utterly compelling contest. Rostrevor started well and enjoyed the better of the opening twenty minutes before the Blues largely took over for the remainder of the hour. A foul on Aaron Fearon allowed Blain McGrath to send over an opening free in the 2nd minute. However, much praise must go to both defences for stellar performances and the miserly fashion in which points arrived are a true testament to the work of both on the night, as much as anything else. Jason Sloane was a constant thorn with his searing pace for Warrenpoint and he was involved in setting up Eoghan Byrne for an equaliser on 13 minutes. The Point had seen four balls sail wide of the posts either end of that effort and Rostrevor were certainly more efficient in front of goal with Aaron Fearon sending over from the right side after neat build up from Conall Gordon and Joseph Morgan. James Donaghy doubled the lead with an excellent point from the left wing in the 21st minute, but Warrenpoint were soon to get the scores that they had threatened earlier and; with Patrick Murdock marshalling his defence very well, five unanswered scores over the following thirty-three minutes of play had provided the perfect platform on which the Blues could push on, but an absolutely barnstorming and unbelievable conclusion was in store. Aaron D’Arcy demonstrated his undoubted talent with a good point to narrow the gap with Frank Aiken’s free levelling the sides for the second time in the 26th minute. Jason Sloane sprinted down the right wing to push the Blues into the lead on the stroke of half time, as Warrenpoint appeared to be taking territorial control of the contest. HALF TIME: ROSTREVOR 0-03 – 0-04 CUMANN PHEADAIR NAOFA Indeed, the closing pattern of the first half continued into the second and Warrenpoint were the side that were able to find the better chances. It’s not that they were dominant, but they were showing more of the intent and with Aaron Magee, Oran Keddle and Frank Aiken performing very well in their engine; possession was filtered through to their forwards with a degree of regularity. Frank Aiken put the ‘Point into a two-point lead via the post in the 37th minute with Rostrevor struggling to find space in the final third; and therefore finding it difficult to respond. Despite this, Rostrevor’s back six were outstanding. Nicky Murray and Conall Gordan breaking down and then setting up attacks with Mark Doyle, James Donaghy and Chris Killen proving sticky for the Point forwards who couldn’t use their superior possession to any truly devastating effect. However, Cormac McGrath’s contribution at wing-back was particularly impressive with his unenviable task of marshalling Sloane being carried out with efficacy and he deserves credit. Ardal Murray made it a three-point game in the 48th minute, but the efforts of that Rostrevor defence during thirty-three barren minutes were greatly rewarded with an equalising goal in the 54th minute, as the Reds attack sprung back to life. Ardghal McMahon’s contribution at midfield alongside the ever-imposing James Rice now brought goals in three consecutive championship games for Rostrevor. He picked up possession from the energetic Conall Gordon before driving the ball past the outstretched dive of Ciaran Dinsmore and into the bottom left corner; levelling the scores at 1-3 to 0-6. Conor Owens escaped his shackles to accurately swing over a point from the right to place the Reds into a 56th minute lead. Suddenly, it had seemed. However; in a conclusion that defies description in many ways, disaster struck with two minutes left on the clock with Jason Sloane gathering the ball after a rare defensive lapse to surge clear towards Aidan Magee before sliding the ball into the net. That was Warrenpoint ahead 1-6 to 1-4; and game over, or so it seemed. The way the game had gone and the perceived story was familiar. One would have imagined that Rostrevor’s gallant reply had been cancelled out and a ‘Point side that had been in reasonable control for that considerable period prior to the goal would close out their victory, but not in what was an unforgettable period of stoppage time. The Reds’ supporters were concerned that a goal was needed and it was unlikely providing the stringent efforts of Warrenpoint’s defence. A few late frees and a ’45 were dropped in with the hope of creating a chance, but nothing materialised in terms of a goal, so Blain McGrath took the brave option of slotting between the posts to bring the deficit down to a single score in the second minute of injury time. Difficult to predict how much time would be added on by Kieran Trainor, the fear was that the whistle would go soon after Dinsmore’s kick-out. However, the Reds won the resulting ball and the tremendous leadership of Conall Gordon was undenied, as he opened his body out to stroke over from the right side; nudging the post on its way over. That was the 63rd minute of play. The ball was sent out once more into the middle and the ball broke once more, with outstanding resilience being shown to wrestle possession out of the midfield and into the hands of Joseph Morgan in a similar position to Gordon earlier. The typically livewire Morgan slipped in attempting to negotiate himself some space; regaining his composure to feign to the right before sending an effort off the outside of his right boot straight over the centre of the crossbar for a Rostrevor lead in the fifth minute of time added on. Kieran Trainor allowed for the Blues to attempt to equalise and they worked the ball eventually to the right corner, but Rostrevor came away with it and the final whistle blew. How Rostrevor ended up in the final after Sloane’s goal had seemingly buried them was something of a miracle, but it shows the most unrelenting courage from as honest a group of players in the face of a superb Warrenpoint side at the end of an emotional week and something got them over the line. Another huge test awaits in the form of Newry Shamrocks, but you can be assured that this team will give a massive effort and they can most certainly do it. The young Warrenpoint side are sure to be shocked and devastated by the result, but they’re a good team and how close they came to qualifying for the final proves that. There is talent in that side and in the future they will get rewarded. For right now though, it’s Rostrevor who have that chance to contest for the Collie Curran cup on October 4th. ROSTREVOR TEAM; Aidan Magee, Christopher Killen, James Donaghy (0-1), Mark Doyle, Conall Gordon (0-1), Nicky Murray, Cormac McGrath, James Rice, Ardghal McMahon (1-0), Conor Owens (0-1), Joseph Morgan (0-1), Blain McGrath (0-2 1f), Aaron Fearon (0-1), Peter Magee, Ryan Caufield. Subs used; Tomas Gordon. Subs; Fearghal Murphy, Michael McNally, John Ferrick, Ronan McAteer and Tiernan Tinnelly.

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