Ballyhegan Davitts V Crossmaglen Rangers II
Ballyhegan Park 15th June 2014.
A hot sunny day brought out a good crowd for the visit of Crossmaglen IIs. The improving Davitts team took to the field with an expectation of victory against a Crossmaglen side which has shown fluctuating results through the season.
The Home side started brightly, Conor Williamson secured possession from the throw-in and Mark Hughes played a ball to Paddy Marley who was immediately hauled down, the full forward converted the free himself. Tony Keegan snuffed out the first Cross attack and fed Conor Morgan, he beat his man and played a great diagonal ball to Marley, the full forward spun his marker and slotted over a neat score. The home side were dominating possession albeit with only 5 minutes gone but a break out from the visitors caused confusion in the Davitts defence and the right corner forward from Cross found himself through on goal, he finished to the net well to register their first score and give them a one point lead. From a 60 yard kick out by Jonny McKeever, Mark Hughes knocked it down to John Guy and the centre forward sent a great ball through to the ever willing Marley who again showed his class with a well taken score. With 10 minutes gone the midfield duo of Mark Hughes and Conor Williamson were dominating all the aerial battles and setting up Davitts attacks, but the Crossmaglen side are adept at swift counter attacks and scored two unanswered points to lead by two. Rory McKeever who was having a solid game at half back sent a great diagonal ball to Paddy Marley, who was again fouled and scored the resultant free kick. The busy full forward then broke down a 45 to player coach Plunkett McCormack; he fed his brother Shane who slotted the point. Plunkett was fouled on the next Davitts possession and James McKeever pointed the free for the next score to give the Davitts the lead once again. It was one way traffic at this stage, John Guy was denied a long range point by the crossbar, the impressive Mark Hughes supplied Marley who turned and scored again. A Crossmaglen break out resulted in a wide 45, the resultant kick out was misdirected and the visitors pounced to slot another point. Davitts wasted no time in returning to the Cross goal mouth Shane McCormack had a goal chance which was kicked behind by the keeper for a 45, the Davitts keeper came up to convert the dead ball with 20 minutes gone. The visitors came up the field and great defending by Tony Keegan was unfairly punished with a free which was converted. The lively corner forward for the south Armagh outfit was having a great game on limited possession and he slotted a great point with his left from the right corner to keep the visitors in touch. A goal chance was created by the Davitts, Mark Hughes thunderous effort was kicked away by the keeper, James McKeever gathered the loose ball fed Plunkett McCormack who shot straight at the Cross keeper with the goal at his mercy. Davitts, playing all the football, still trailed by a point with the half coming to a close, a great fetch in midfield by Conor Williamson was followed by a terrific through ball to Shane McCormack Shane rounded the Cross keeper but was hauled down before he could find the net. The visitor’s net minder somehow avoided sanction from the ref, nevertheless Mark Hughes stepped up to drive an unstoppable penalty to the corner of the net, leaving the scores 1-9 to 1-6 in favour of the home side at half time.
Half time: Ballhegan 1-09 Crossmaglen 1-06
Ballyhegan needed to make a solid start to the second half to drive home their advantage, but the throw-in was lost and the visitors took advantage to score the first point of the second half. This was cancelled out by a well taken point from Conor Williamson from 45 yards out. The teams then exchanged pointed frees before a penalty was awarded to the visitors for a foul on their full forward, he got up to convert the spot kick himself. On their next possession Crossmaglen again made a quick break and some fine forward play resulted in another goal for the visitors leaving the score 3-09 to 1-11. There was no sense of panic from the Davitts as they upped their game again. Paul Nixon came on for Gerard Morgan and was immediately fouled, Marley converted. The South Armagh outfit were now in protection mode and flooded their defence. However the Davitts were patient in their attacks and James McKeever scored a fine point. The third unanswered point was the best of the match, John Guy fed Conor Morgan and the marauding centre back drove past the Cross half back line to score a superb point from distance. Momentum was with the Davitts now and Cross were living on the odd counter attack, however a couple of wides from the home side increased the tension for the crowd as there was still two points between the sides. The Hughes, Williamson partnership in midfield was totally dominant now but a lengthy delay for injury to Mark Hughes was the cause of some concern. Thankfully he was able to continue, and assist in setting up the next opportunity to reduce the defect to the minimum; Plunkett McCormack was clean through on goal but was high tackled as he went for goal, the result was a point and again no punishment for the offending Crossmaglen keeper. The home side were throwing everything at the Cross defence now, Good work from Rory McKeever and James McKeever put Plunkett in on goal unfortunately his fisted effort was wide. The Crossmaglen bench were imploring the referee to blow the whistle as they hung on to the slimmest of leads, Davitts were confident there was time on the clock to make the scores, James McKeever burst through the defence and was cynically hauled down, a black card and a free resulted. Marley converted to level the scores again. The visitors were under severe pressure now and a fine run from substitute Paul Nixon should have brought a free but the referee failed to make the call, Crossmaglen cleared the danger and the final whistle blew.
Final score Ballyhegan 1-16 Crossmaglen Rangers IIs 3-10
There is no doubting Crossmaglen have some quality players and off course that never say die attitude, however the Davitts will be bitterly disappointed not to have taken a win from this highly entertaining fixture. They were clearly the better side and only the clock prevented them from registering a deserved win.
Jonny McKeever 0-01(45), Tony Keegan, Roger McCormick, Jarlath McCann (Michael Hamil 53), Joey Murphy, Conor Morgan 0-01, Rory McKeever, Mark Hughes 1-00(pen), Conor Williamson 0-01, Gerard Morgan (Paul Nixon 47), John Guy, Shane McCormack 0-01, James McKeever 0-02 (1f), Paddy Marley 0-09 (5f), Plunkett McCormack 0-01 (Eoin Reynolds 55).
Subs not used: James McKeever, Jarlath Paterson, Daniel McNeill.