Killyleagh Suffer Early Season Defeat at Showgrounds

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 NAFL Premier Division 

Killyleagh YC  0    Islandmagee 1

THERE was disappointment for Bobby Murphy on his opening game as Killyleagh manager when it ended in defeat at The Showgrounds on Saturday.

Killyleagh felt they could, and should, have gained at least a point from this Premier Section league game, with a superb second half recovery that had everything but a goal.

Killyleagh fought back in the second half against Islandmagee but failed to score a vital equaliser.

So a rare opening day defeat for the YC but a big improvement on the meeting between these two sides in a cup game exactly a year ago to the day when the Islanders triumphed 4-0.

The visitors started at a frantic pace, quickly establishing a stranglehold in midfield, and the YC survived early penalty appeals after five minutes.

It was the 11th minute before Killyleagh carved out what was to turn out to be their best chance of the half. Neil Young picked out Stevie Kennedy who threaded the ball to Gary Morrison. His carefully flighted effort skimmed inches over.

The Islanders took the lead when captain Moore met a near post corner to head past an exposed Nathan Curran in the 16th minute.

Curran, making his competitive debut, then kept Killyleagh in the game with a superb save from an effort that threatened to creep under the bar and then reacted brilliantly to fingertip away a corner.

Killyleagh were being over-run and were on the rack, and it took Hugh Dickson’s last ditch clearance to prevent a certain goal. The stars of the show were the YC backline with full backs Jason Heron and Jordan Kennedy working overtime to repel the threat, and Niall Walsh and Dickson at full stretch in the middle.

At the opposite end Ryan Montgomery had a possible penalty appeal and Morrison thumped over after a fine intercept from Heron, but in truth the YC were always second.

Killyleagh’s second half performance was a vast improvement with Niall Walsh setting a pattern with a superb tackle that released Kennedy on a zipping run. Young was outstanding leading the attack, giving Moore all sorts of problems.

On the hour Kennedy and Barrry Walsh went close with frees, with Darren McConnell almost turning the ball home. Then Young and Heron combined as Killyleagh turned the screw. Young eventually got the ball into the net in the 66th minute from Dickson’s header on but he was ruled offside.

John Murray came on as sub to make a welcome return to Killyleagh colours and his clever free, after a foul on Heron, was smartly saved.

Islandmagee were content to hit the home side on the break and it was the 73rd minute before they earned their first corner of the second half.

Murphy’s team thought they had rescued a point when Barry Walsh’s corner was met by Dickson but his powerful header went the wrong side of the bar, and the chance and game was lost.

The first winner of the YC player of the Match award was Jordan Kennedy.

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