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Minors Making Steady Progress
Mar. 14, 2017
Recap on Minor Season to date:
Belcoo Minors 2017 season commenced in mid February. The team spent from late January training twice weekly. They trained in BeFit Gym Blacklion on a Monday evening and had a training session at the playing grounds on Thursday. The 2016 was a disappointing year for Belcoo Minors and Under 16s with the Belcoo minors only able to field on 2 occasions all year and the under 16s vastly underperforming. Therefore a number of players had little match practice in 2016. A squad of 17 players have committed to the team for the 2017 season and no fewer than fewer than 9 players making their minor debuts in 2017 with an age variation from 14 to 18 years old. The team welcomed Luka Gribbin & Usna MacErlane back from more than a 4 year absence.
The teams first outings was an away fixture with Irvinestown. Unfortunately due to the early start to the league and the very wet start to February, the young O'Rahillys were unable to source a challenge game before the league campaign started.
Belcoo were dealt a blow just before their opening encounter with the unavailability of the excellent Eoin Shiels and this was a significant set back to the young Belcoo team. A further blow was dealt during the game when team captain Michael McGourty had to retire from the field early due to injury.
The first game was played in a wet and windy Irvinestown. To be truthful, The Belcoo team were always second best and in the end suffered a very heavy defeat at the hands of a very strong & physical Irvinestown team. In the opening half Belcoo wasted a number of glorious goal chances but by half time the game was already out of reach. The Belcoo team performed only in glimpses and scored a tally of 1 goal & 7 points. The scorers on the day - Mark Ferguson 1 goal, Conor McAloon (0.4) , Ciaran Flanagan (0.1) Colm Furey (0.1) & full back James McAloon (0.1). There were eye-catching displays from defenders Lawrence McKeown, Gerard McHugh & Oisin Leonard.
Game 2: Belcoo 6-10 Newtownbutler 2-8
On their second outing of the season Belcoo played hosts to a more physical Newtownbutler team. The game was played in absolutely terrible conditions with wind and extremely heavy continuous downpours. It was so wet that a full match report was impossible to write. On this occasion Belcoo were hit yet another blow with the unavailability of one of their brightest prospects Ronan Maguire. Belcoo played against the wind in the first half but to be truthful the wind was primarily blowing across the field and little in the way of an advantage to either side. Belcoo started very slowly and could not contend with the wave of Newtownbutler attacks. Belcoo trailed after 15 minutes on a score line Newtownbutler 2-6 v 0-1 Belcoo and it was now looking like another heavy defeat. Then Belcoo sparked into life with a 15 minutes spell that seen the young O’Rahillys grow with confidence. Goals from Conor McAloon & Ciaran Flanagan and points from Michael McGourty, Eoin Shiels, Colm Furey & Conor McAloon helping to settle the young Belcoo lads. Belcoo Goalkeeper Oran McCann made an excellent save to frustrate the tiring Newtown lads. Oran’s contribution was immense and his long accurate kick outs help set up attack after attack for Belcoo. A special mention must go to Luka Gribbin who was performing really well in the forward line and his measured tackling was making it difficult for his opponents to get the ball out of their defence.
Conor McAloon hit a superb long range point against the wind. Ciaran Flanagan & Eoin Shiels got to grips with the midfield battle and from then on took total control with eye-catching displays. On the few occasions that Newtownbutler broke into the Belcoo half, the Belcoo defenders won most of the battles with Lawrence McKeown, James McAloon and Gerard McHugh now firmly on top. Belcoo went in at the break leading 3-5 to 2-6.
The second half seen Belcoo in total dominance with an excellent team performance. Conor McAloon was playing his best football in the blue jersey since 2015 while Shane Doherty also sparkled. Further second half scores from McGourty, Flanagan, Ferguson Furey, McKeown, Shiels & C McAloon and by now the contest was over. Under 16 players Oisin Leonard, Matthew Mulvey and Fiachra McAloon played their part in what in the end was a confidence boosting great team effort.
On Sunday 5th March the home game against Enniskillen Gaels B was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Last Sunday the Belcoo Minors headed to Belleek to take on Erne Gaels in what was expected to be a very tight encounter between the 2 teams. Belcoo for the first time this season were able to field their strongest team possible. Like both other occasions Belcoo started slowly. In the early stages Erne Gaels were awarded a penalty which was converted. It was frustration for Belcoo because despite playing well they wasted several easy scoring chances. With 10 minutes gone it was the hosts that led by 1-3 to no score.
Erne Gaels county minors Deary, McCann & Kelm were at this stage on top. A ball was won in defence by Oisin Leonard was played out to Ronan Maguire who played a high ball to Ciaran Flanagan in the middle of the park. Ciaran went on a great run and slipped the ball to Conor McAloon who fed Mark Ferguson who finished the ball brilliantly to the back of the net. Belcoo were beginning to improve but had to deal with a number of Belleek attacks and Ultan Kelm landed another point.
Conor McAloon fielded a high ball and made a run and passed to the excellent Eoin Shiels to score a point for Belcoo. A two point game and it was now very close as many had predicted. After 20 minutes Erne Gaels had again extended their lead by 4 points on a score line of 1-5 to 1-1.
Belcoo continued to squander many chances with a Belcoo forward deemed to have picked the ball off the ground when a good goal chance had presented itself. Belcoo defence began to stand firm with James McAloon comfortable in full back and well supported by Ronan Maguire and Oisin Leonard in the corners. Ronan Maguire turned over possession and went on a superb run with Gerard McHugh but on this occasion McHugh missed. The interesting midfield battle between 2 county minors and Shiels and Flanagan was now most definitely being bossed by the Belcoo men.
Flanagan was fouled on the forty and a quick free kick from Conor McAloon found Shane Doherty who converted for another point. From the kick out Matthew Mulvey won the ball and played a lovely ball into Colm Furey who calmly slotted over the bar. Belcoo won possession from the kick out when Shane Doherty fielded and passed to the busy McGourty who played Shiels in for another point. At this stage the forward line of Gribbin, Ferguson and the Captain McGourty were putting pressure on the Belleek defence.
The final opportunity of the first half fell to Belcoo. A Shiels free kick came back of the upright and Furey drove the ball into the side netting. In truth he had more time for his shot selection. The half time score Erne Gaels 1-5 Belcoo 1-4.
A thrilling second half was in prospect. Shane Doherty fired over early in the second half to level the proceedings. However, Erne Gaels get working and won what was a very debatable free kick which was successfully converted to restore their lead. Belcoo was to hit the front for the first time in the match on 40 minutes with a well taken goal from Michael McGourty, a score which he had been threatening for some time. Conor McAloon extended the lead with a long range effort from out on the right. Erne Gaels kept going and walked through the Belcoo defence for an easy goal. The Belcoo goalkeeper made an uncharacteristic error from a kick out but very quickly redeemed himself with a good save. Ronan Maguire interceptive an important ball and brilliantly cleared.
Ciaran Flanagan converted a free for Belcoo and then released Mark Ferguson who took a ball with his back to goal, turned sharply and drove the ball to the back of the net for his second goal of the game. With only 15 minutes remaining Belleek hit another goal but this was to be their final score. As the Gaels tired, Belcoo kept improving with attack after attack. A pass from Shane Doherty found Conor McAloon and he duly converted for a point. Further points from Flanagan & Shiels before half backs McKeown & McHugh got in on the scoring act.
Belcoo looked organised and created a number of good set plays. Further goals from Flanagan & McHugh ended the contest. Flanagan converted a late free kick. Towards the end Fiachra McAloon repossessed a ball from a bigger Gaels Player by his good tackling and the clever Colm Furey blocked a ball and this seen the Belleek lads heads drop. In the end a comfortable win for Belcoo on a score line 513 to 3-7. However, to be fair this was a closer game that the final score. The Belcoo Panel – Oran McCann, Oisin Leonard, James McAloon, Ronan Maguire, Gerard McHugh, Lawrence McKeown, Matthew Mulvey, Eoin Shiels, Ciaran Flanagan, Colm Furey, Shane Doherty, Conor McAloon, Mark Ferguson, Michael McGourty, Luka Gribbin, Fiachra McAloon and Usna MacErlane.
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