Ballyhegan Davitts v Crossmaglen Rangers IIs
Tuesday 06th August 2014
St Killian’s Whitecross played host to Ballyhegan’s first round of the Championship on Tuesday night, the Davitts seeking to put a difficult league campaign behind them to cause an upset, against one of the early tournament favorites in Crossmaglen Rangers II. The Crossmaglen outfit having proceeded to the first round proper after defeating Killeavy IIs in the Preliminary round of this year’s Junior Championship.
After a scramble in the Ballyhegan rearguard, a Cross attacker capitalized, dispossessing the defender and scoring from close range.
Paddy Marley found space down the right hand side and split the posts from a tricky angle to register Ballyhegan’s first score inside five minutes.
Ballyhegan full forward Paul Nixon’s shot was well blocked and Conor Loughran, playing at wing forward, swept up the break ball and popped it over the bar, putting the Davitts in front after ten minutes.
Crossmaglen responded, converting two free kicks at close range, but the sides were level once more in the 17th minute, as Shane McCormack accepted a pass, showing good strength to hold off a challenge, then used a reverse pass to find captain Joey Murphy, who assisted Tony Keegan to split the posts with the outside of his right foot, after a fine supporting run, a great team score.
Ballyhegan net-minder Jonny McKeever was called into action a minute later diving to his left and saving well from a one-on-one with the tricky, jinking Cross corner-forward.
The Rangers took the lead once more with two scores from play with ten minutes remaining of first half action, but the Davitts finished the half the better, scoring three unanswered points.
Scores from Conor Loughran’s right boot from 30 metres, Joey Murphy’s fist from close range, and the score of the night following a superb fetch in midfield from John Guy, Tony Keegan scored with a mighty strike from 35 metres, which received the biggest cheer of the night from the sizeable travelling support.
In this final period of the half, the Ballyhegan rearguard repelled two ominous looking attacks, Plunkett McCormack forcing his man wide in the first instance and the full back line crowding the attacker the second time allowing Tony Keegan to collect the ball and break forward.
At half time, Ballyhegan had the smallest of advantages, in a tight, evenly matched contest.
Half time: Ballyhegan 0-06 Crossmaglen IIs 0-05
Jonny McKeever extended Ballyhegan’s lead with a well struck ’45, won by good tackling on the end line from James McKeever in the opening minutes of the second half.
Points from Paddy Marley’s right boot and Conor Williamson’s fist, interrupted a 20 minute spell of dominance from the South Armagh men as they tallied seven points in this spell to create a three point advantage with time running out for the boys in blue.
High pressing from Paddy Marley created an opportunity to peg a point back, but Cross responded immediately, three points still the difference in injury time.
A strong direct run from James McKeever goal-wards created panic in the Cross defence, but the ball popped out creating an opportunity for Ballyhegan substitute Mark Hughes to pop over. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time left on Silverbridge referee Oliver Hearty’s watch and so Crossmaglen now proceed to play Collegeland O'Rahillys in the next round, whilst the Davitt’s enter the Qualifier system, and face a pre Qualifier match in Mullabrack this Sunday 5pm versus Clady Sean South. (The winner progresses to play O’Hanlons Poyntzpass)
Full time: Ballyhegan Davitts 0-11 Crossmaglen IIs 0-13
A close contest with two fairly well matched sides, Crossmaglen just able to win more possession around the middle of the field, and probably just that bit more clinical with their shooting.
As the score-line suggests, Ballyhegan’s best performers were in defence, with young debutant Shane McKeever excelling, alongside Roger McCormack in the full back line.
Jonny McKeever had a fine display also with a superb save in the first half, a big ’45 at the beginning of the second and some excellent distribution.
Many will talk about the night where Tony Keegan scored two superb points from play!
Hopefully the Davitts can build up some momentum, like the County team starting this Sunday in Mullabrack, which should help with our final two big league fixtures that remain; away to St Michael’s Newtown and home to St Patrick’s II, to save the season!
Ballyhegan team lined out as follows: Jonny McKeever 0.01 (‘45), R. McCormick, C. Morgan. S. McKeever, T. Keegan 0.02, P. McCormack, Rory McKeever, C. Williamson 0.01 (T. Power, 60), J. Guy, C. Loughran 0-02 (M. Hughes 0.01, 43), J. Murphy (C) 0.01 (J. Rafferty, 43 (E. Reynolds, 45)), James McKeever, P. Nixon, P. Marley 0.03 (1f), S. McCormack (G. Morgan, 60)