Gross Keeper Saves Day In Harry Clarke Thriller

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The Newcastle and District Amateur Football League.

Harry Clarke Cup 2nd Round.

Ballynagross 2  2 Carryduff Athletic. 

(Ballynagross won 3-2 on penalties after extra time). 

Ballynagross entertained Carryduff Athletic at Mountain Quarter in this 2nd round Harry Clarke Cup tie and had to rely on their veteran super sub Kieran Taggart deep in added time to force this game into extra time (writes Cyril McKinney.)

Gross’ Donal McCavera flanked by Carryduff’s Conor Kerr and Aodhan McManus.

Both teams started well but neither could settle and largely cancelled each other out in the early exchanges. On 18 minutes the home side took the lead following a left wing cross which found number Donal McCavera. He found time and space on the back post to slot home past the advancing keeper from six yards out.

Gross player Deaglan Arnold is challenged by Carryduff’s Conor Kerr.

Carryduff forward Jonathan Wilkinson tested the home keeper on the half hour when he cut in onto his right foot and got his low shot away, but the Gross keeper Cathail Arnold was equal to it and pushed the ball away at full stretch for a corner. From the resulting corner Wilkinson saw his glancing header rebound off the post and was cleared by the home defence.

Within minutes of the restart after half time Ballynagross forward Declan Dowie was brought down on the edge of the Carryduff box by defender Carl Flynn. A player melee lasting almost five minutes developed involving large numbers of players from both teams and by the end of it the referee sent off Carryduff’s Flynn  and Ballynagross’s Dowie. Both players clashed again as they left the pitch but when play did resume Ballynagross’ Matthew Rooney was wide of the target from the free on the edge of the box.

Carryduff began to press forward and were on level terms on 63 minutes when Wilkinson scored from the spot after being upended in the box.  

Ballynagross responded well initially and Rooney was high and wide from a great ball from sub Mark Magill. The game was gradually opening up and Carryduff forced a corner on the left flank on 73 minutes from which Wilkinson found himself unmarked at the near post and headed past a helpless Arnold.

Mark Magill on the ball for Ballynagross with Carryduff’s Eoin Conway.

Matters got worse for Ballynagross when Rooney, their midfield playmaker, was shown red after two bookable offences. As the game entered into the closing minutes Ballynagross were on the offensive but the visitors defence seemed to be holding firm until deep into injury time a rasping shot from Byrne rebounded of the keepers right hand post and fell kindly for Taggart  to bundle the ball home despite the best efforts of the Carryduff keeper Byrne and force the game into extra time.

With darkness falling and players tired legs extra time failed to find a winner or a clear cut chance. The game was decided on penalties with Deaglan Arnold, Cathail Arnold and Conor Marron all converting their spot kicks while the ‘Gross keeper Cathail Arnold was the hero saving three penalties to send his team into the next round of the Harry Clarke Cup.

Ballynagross had some good performances from Beattie, McGrady and Reilly at the back with Rooney battling hard in midfield before his departure to a red card while Carryduff’s Wilkinson always looked dangerous upfront and he had good support from Quigley and Kerr at the back while Conway battled hard in midfield. 

Ballynagross FC:  Cathail Arnold, Connor Marron, Paul Reilly, Darryl McGrady, Aaron Beattie, Niall Laverty, Deaglan Arnold, Matthew Rooney, Daniel Taggart, Declan Dowie, Donal McCavera: (Subs: Cormac Byrne for Donal McCavera, John Shields, Mark Magill for Daniel Taggart,  Ciaran Evans, Kieran Taggart for Niall Laverty). 

Carryduff Athletic:  Christopher Gibson, Tony Smith, David Boal, Carl Flynn, David Quigley, Conor Kerr, Niall Basketfield, Eoin Conway, Jonathan Wilkinson, Callum Mahoney, Aodhan McManus. (Subs: Michael Woods for Tony Smith, Colin Shankelton, David Patterson, Ryan Bradley.)