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Minors Go Top As Unbeaten Run Extends To Six
May. 2, 2017
MINOR Division 3: Maguiresbridge 0-17 v 6.13 Belcoo
This game was played in the Costa del Maguiresbridge in beautiful sunny conditions. Maguiresbridge went into the game as slight favourites having played their earlier league games in Section B whilst Belcoo competed in the lower section C. Maguiresbridge have been unfortunate in recent weeks as they picked up 2 injuries resulting in the longer term unavailability of both players. Belcoo on the other hand were without 4 players for this encounter. Colm Furey, Matthew Mulvey, Usna MacErlane and Dermot Burns missing out.
Readers can be forgiven for thinking that this was an easy game for Belcoo based on the above score line as the game was a tightly fought affair until late into the contest.
From the throw-in it was Maguiresbridge that settled the better and with their first attack scored a point from Fin Nolan after he ran through the Belcoo defence. Despite total dominance in the early stages by the home side it was Belcoo that was presented with a great goal opportunity but unfortunately was just drilled wide by the busy Gerard McHugh.
Belcoo went on to register a further 4 wides and were punished by the Duffy twins and Nolan as the Bridge extended their lead to 3 points. Eoin Shiels began to grow in confidence and when he ran at the Maguiresbridge defence he was pulled down and the referee Martin Higgins awarded a free. Conor McAloon made no mistake with the free from approximately 25 metres out to register Belcoo’s first point of the game.
However, Maguiresbridge continued to dominate early proceedings. The hosts scored another 3 points without reply to extend their lead. In fact things would have been worse at this stage but for the alert Oran McCann in goals as he deflected a close range shot over the bar when a goal looked a certainty.
Eoin Shiels reverting back to his familiar midfield position for this match was beginning to show his leadership qualities and he again ran at the heart of the Maguiresbridge defence and slipped the ball neatly to the running Gerard McHugh who converted the score confidently. Nevertheless, the home team were very much on top as the Belcoo heads dropped to allow the bridge to pierce the Belcoo defence time and time again and with ease added a further 2 points. With quarter of the tie played it looked that the winning streak may well be ending for the young O’Rahillys as Maguiresbridge cruised to a 0-8 to 0-2 lead.
Belcoo applied some pressure and were awarded a penalty when a Belcoo forward was dragged down in the box when in on goal and Martin Higgins had no option but to award the penalty. Conor McAloon was designated as the penalty taker and he made no mistake with a low drive into the left of the net giving the talented Sean Trimble no chance in the Maguiresbridge net. This penalty appeared to fire up the young O’Rahillys and despite the dangerous Bridge adding on another 2 points it was Belcoo that ended the half the better.
James McAloon & Oisin Leonard were looking more confident in the Belcoo defence and the half back line were now getting on top and keeping their shape much better. There was also strong evidence that Ciaran Flanagan and Shiels were beginning to boss the midfield. Eoin Shiels tested the Bridge defence again and again and when he found Conor McAloon 20 metres from goal out on the left, he made no mistake to convert a morale boosting point.
It was then the turn of captain fantastic Michael McGourty, and he ran at the Bridge defence and he was asking all sorts of questions of McDermott and McGandy and when he hand-passed the ball to the running C McAloon he slotted the ball over the bar. Ciaran Flanagan was growing with assertiveness in the middle of the field and his trademark high catching was very much back on the agenda despite the unusual occurrence of young Ciaran contesting balls with a player several inches taller.
Belcoo had a number of good goal chances to get back on terms with Maguiresbridge but wayward shooting was a cause for concern. The industrious Ciaran Flanagan started another attack and found the racing Ronan Maguire who superbly carried the ball up the right wing notwithstanding a number of hefty tackles and he had the foresight to find the now back to his very best McKeown who intelligently found the goal bound Ciaran Flanagan and he flicked the high ball into the Maguiresbridge net and the teams were level.
The half time whistle sounded as the teams were tied at Maguiresbridge 0-10 v 2-4 Belcoo. The Belcoo managers were disappointed at conceding 10 first half scores but happy to be level at the break. The throw-in for the second half seen Belcoo play from right to left with a very slight wind advantage. The O’Rahillys came out full of confidence in the second half – was it the Jaffa Cakes!!. Flanagan won the ball in the middle and off loaded to midfield partner Shiels and he give Belcoo the slender lead with a well taken point.
The James McAloon and Oisin Leonard partnership was pure harmony and they sniffed out attack after attack and cleared the ball from danger on a number of occasions. However, the Maguiresbridge team were not done yet and converted from a free. Belcoo were in on goal again and produced another bad wide.
Maguiresbridge began to run at the Belcoo defence as they had done successfully in the opening half and seemed very content to take their points and they restored the lead. Good work from Conor McAloon found Shane Doherty and he scored a cracking point from distance.
Totally buoyed up young Doherty collected another ball from Shiels and again fired over the bar. Maguiresbridge continued to test the Belcoo defence and the O’Rahillys not for the first time had to thank the brilliant Oran McCann in the Belcoo nets who made an outstanding save and the alert McHugh diverted the ball to safety. Maguiresbridge scored their 14 point of the match to again level the affair but the next 2 minutes changed the whole course of the game.
Ronan Maguire playing in the half back line again sprinted up the sideline side stepping the challenges and he accurately found Conor McAloon who ran directly and slotted the ball for a goal to give Belcoo a now deserved lead. Mark Ferguson was having a quieter evening than normal but was being pulled into a physical battle with a taller Bridge defender, Mark delivered a fine ball to the waiting Shane Doherty and he opened up the defence with a great pass to Conor McAloon who volley his third goal of the evening.
The last 12 minutes seen Belcoo take control with the Belcoo busy full forward McGourty back in his own penalty area intercepting balls and defending excellently. The next Belcoo attack saw a tackle from young Fiachra McAloon forcing a Maguiresbridge mistake and the breaking ball fell to Shane Doherty and he didn’t need to be asked twice to register another point. Eoin Shiels continued to question the Maguiresbridge defence who were beginning to tire and another great individual goal from Shiels extended the lead.
Further points from Shiels, C McAloon and an outrageous score from 30 metres out of the left from Michael McGourty received a great roar from the considerable number of visiting fans. Two final Bridge attempts were blocked by the half back line of McHugh, Maguire and McKeown and at this stage it appeared a better chance for the Bridge forwards getting through a brick wall than getting passed McKeown & Co.
Conor McAloon then hit the post and Shane Doherty’s attempt from the rebound was blocked down for a forty-five. The Bridge defended the place kick well but passes from McAloon, Flanagan & McGourty found the in-form Shiels for his second goal of the evening. The lively Ciaran Flanagan scored another fine point after the Belcoo new comer Luka Gribbin raced back to defence and then plucked a high ball out of the air to conduct another Belcoo attack.
The Bridge never give up and got 2 consolation points before Eoin Shiels ended the scoring with a well taken point. Higgins blew the whistle with a full time result of Maguiresbridge 0-17 v 6-13 Belcoo sending Belcoo to the top of the league table. However, the young O’Rahillys are only too aware of the major challenges ahead including a home tie against Devenish on May 25th and the away game to the impressive Tempo on 2nd June.
The referee commented on the good discipline of the Belcoo team and said that they didn’t even receive a tick despite what was a physical enough encounter. Belcoo look forward to a two week break from games. The team management wish the many panellists well when taking exams in the coming weeks. A further training schedule is being finalised at present.
The Belcoo Panel - Oran McCann, Oisin Leonard, James McAloon, Gerard McHugh, Lawrence McKeown, Eoin Shiels, Ciaran Flanagan, Shane Doherty, Conor McAloon, Mark Ferguson, Michael McGourty, Luka Gribbin, Fiachra McAloonand Ronan Maguire.
Report by Gerry McAloon.
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