The Morgan Fuels Senior Football Championship.
Darragh Cross 0-7 Loughinisland 0-11
Loughinisland ahead of Darragh Cross on the final whistle.
This match was definitely close cut as there was never a moment when more than two points separated the fairly equally matched contenders until the last few minutes writes Jim Masson.
Weather conditions ranged from heavy downpours to spells of sunshine making the surface at times greasy to play on.
It was Darragh Cross who were pressing early to try and take first blood making a few good attacks on the Loughinisland posts. But the experienced Loughinsland side held their ground and their first break only provided a wide when Rory Mason found the space to shoot.
Darragh Cross’s Joe McKinney and Callum Murray managed to slice through the Island defence and again created a scoring opportunity but were beaten off by the Island defensive cordon.
Gradually Loughinisland started to pass the ball more and soon were in an attacking mode. The first five minutes saw no points on the scoreboard.
Missed opportunities by both sides.
It was excellent end to end football and Darragh Cross forwards James Murray, Shea O’Boyle and Conleth Sweeney managed to get close to the Loughinisland goal for an opportunity but the attack fizzled out.
Loughisland responded quickly and Rory Deegan shot wide trying for a point. Then it was Joe McKinney on a solo run for Darragh Cross but he was eventually blocked by keeper Chris Turley.
Then, on 13 minutes into the game, Loughinisland’s Marcus Miskelly broke the dearth on points by kicking over the Darragh Cross posts. This was promptly followed with another Loughinisland point from Declan McClements.
At the first water break Loughinsland were looking slightly more dominant but the match was really a close cut affair.
Darragh Cross came out and took the next point with play from a pass from Mark McMahon to Micheal McMonam keeping in touch with the former Ulster intermediate champions.
There was an enterprising solo run from Loughinisland’s Jonathan Flynn but eventually ran into a brick wall of Darragh Cross defenders. In a follow up action, Darragh Cross play between McKinney and McMonam saw the matches level again on the scoreboard.
Loughinisland attacked once more and it was Megoran who passed to Murray that won a free at a sharp angle to the posts on the right from a Darragh Cross challenge which was converted well.
Points were hard earned and in a fast breaking move from Ben Reilly and Paddy McKenny, Loughinisland were ahead by two points.
Loughinisland were moving well at this point and passing confidently and collected another point in play at 30 yards from McKenny who in an another follow up attack was through to the Darragh Cross goal looking good clear of the defenders on a 1:1 with keeper Jason Scott who expertly closed Kenny down.
The first half ended with Darragh Cross responding with an attack on the Loughinisland goal.
Half-time: Daragh Cross 0-3 Loughinisland 0-5.
Darragh Cross came out to make amends in the second half and took a quick point but Loughinisland were pressing to take advantage of their lead but it was Darragh Cross that tok the next point to even the score.
In an attack, Deegan was floored and the free gave Loughinisland the lead again in this roller coaster.
But Darragh Cross were not lying down and fought for every inch on the pitch. They were rewarded for their efforts when McMahon sent the ball over the Loughinisland sticks for another point again levelling the scoreline.
In this fast paced match with both teams giving no quarter, play was up and down the pitch. Loughinisland’s McKenny in an attack won a free, taken by Deegan, but it again went wide from relatively close, an opportunity to collect a valuable point missed.
Teams Battle Neck n’ Neck.
McKenny was having a good spell for Loughinisland and got close to the goal again before he was overcome by the wall of Darragh Cross defenders.
Darragh Cross made a quick break and Miskelly secured a point which was again followed by a quick preply from Loughinisland’s O’Reilly keeping his side a nose in front.
But as the final minutes approached, it was Darragh Cross who had the work to do to win the game. Loughinisland were careful to maintain possession and keep the ball in the Darragh Cross half out of danger.
Then in a move that nailed the match for Loughinisland, McCarthy passed to Boyle who took a point giving Loughinisland a firm lead. It was still a nervy end to the match for Loughinisland as Darragh Cross were capable of a goal in a last minute break.
The match ended with a final point from Loughinisland sub Eddie Nixon.
Overall, this was one of the great close encounters of the Championship and a credit to both teams for their determination to do honour for their clubs.
The final score was daragh Cross 0-7 Loughinisland 0- 11.
DARRAGH CROSS GAC: 1. Jason Scott 2 Paddy Branny 3 Michael McMonam 4 Eamon Sweeney 5 Micheal Boyle 6 Oisin McConvery 7 Callum Murray 8 Matthew Hardy 9 Joe McKinney 10 Mark McMahon 11 Marcus Miskelly 12 James Murray 13 Steve Dineen 14 Shea Boyle 15 Conleth Sweeney. Subs: 18 Jarleth Flynn 19 Barry Ward 20 Eaoin Mageean 21 Cia Gemmell 22 Ciaran Murray.
LOUGHINISLAND GAC: 1 Chris Turley 2 Conor O’Toole 3 Paddy Megoran 4 Sean Cochrane 5 Rory Mason 6 Dan Gordon 7 Dean McLaughlin 8 Jonathan Flynn 9 Damhan O’Toole 10 Ben O’Reilly 11 Declan McClements 12 John McCarthy 13 Rory Deegan 14 Paddy McKenny 15 Conoor Megoran. Subs: 16 Peter Kearney 17 Peter Cochrane 17 Tom McDonald 19 Dara McDonald 20 Aidan Nixon 21 Eddie Nixon 22 Aaron McClements 23 Oran Bolton 24 COnnor Dornan 24 Jack Ferris Stefan Ginesi 28 Odhran Barlow.