Saturday 13th August
NAFL Premier Division – League Match
Downpatrick FC 3 Shankill United 0
Downpatrick launched their new season with a perfect start chalking up a valuable win, a three goals bonanza and a clean sheet against Shankill United.
As this match was a potentially a difficult game for the home side having dropped points both home and away last season against Shankill, Downpatrick were eager to win their opening game.
Both teams started nervously, passing was poor and players struggled to get to grips with the game, this indecision led to Downpatrick’s opening goal. Shankill won a throw in just inside their own half and when the ball was thrown to the centre half and his poor back pass allowed last season’s top goalscorer Stephen Galbraith to race onto the pass. Bearing down on the goal, Galbraith had the composure to place the ball beyond the reach of Shankill goal keeper Conan Russell and into the bottom corner of the net opening the scoring for the new season.
After the goal Downpatrick settled down and began to pass the ball around with confidence, the back four of Stephen Douglas, Blaine Connolly, Matthew Carson and Christian Holland looked assured as they handled the Shankill attack superbly and limited Michael McKenna in the Downpatrick goal to a handful of touches. The homesides attacking threat was always evident with wingers Barry Treacy and Terence Bell providing plenty of ball for Galbraith and strike partner Conor McCarron.
Half Time: Downpatrick FC 1 Shankill United 0
Downpatrick came out in the second half determined to dominate from the opening whistle and central midfielders Andy Baggley and Adrian McCoubrey set the tone with some strong tackles and telling passes to help keep Downpatrick in front. Ten minutes into the second half the home side doubled their advantage as Barry Treacy broke down the left wing and with a swivel of the hip the tricky winger nipped inside and played the perfect pass to Conor McCarron who had pulled off to the back post. McCarron controlled the ball well and his cross-come- shot was diverted into the back of the net by Shankhill defender Gary Chisolm for an own goal.
With twenty five minutes were remaining and Downpatrick introduced Aaron McGarry for Terence Bell and it didn’t take long for last years Player of the Year to make a contribution down the left flank.
A surging run on the seventy minute mark saw McGarry put in an inch perfect cross for Stephen Galbraith who’s first time shot gave Russell no chance in the Shankill net.
In the final twenty minutes Downpatrick had several chances to extend their lead, and second half substitute Mark Holland had a volley at the back post which just went narrowly wide and Galbraith had a one-on-one with Conan Russell for his hat-trick but Russell produced a superb save to deny him. Downpatrick saw out the game comfortably in the end and can be pleased with their all round performance and result at the head of the new season.
Downpatrick: 1) M McKenna 2) S Douglas 3) C Holland 4) M Carson 5) B Connolly 6) A Baggley 7) B Treacy 8) A McCoubrey 9) S Galbraith 10) C McCarron 11) T Bell 12) B Fitzsimons 14) M Holland 15) A McGarry
Match Sponsor: Connolly’s Spar, Downpatrick & Strangford.