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Davitts Win in Cross

posted 22 Jun 2015, 14:43 by Jarlath McCann   [ updated 23 Jun 2015, 03:04 ]
Crossmaglen Rangers II V Ballyhegan Davitts
League Div 3 
21st June 2015

The men's senior team travelled to the home of the most successful Club in Ulster for the return fixture of the opening league game. That match was played in cold, wet, slippery conditions; this match by contrast was played in warm, dry conditions albeit with a strong breeze blowing off the Cooley Mountains.

The hosts elected to play with the breeze in the opening half, and signalled their intent early when with their first attack they went for goal but didn't trouble the Davitts captain and net minder Jonny McKeever, and shot wide. Ballyhegan took that as the wake up call they needed and started a period of dominance. They forced a 45 but couldn't convert it into the opening score, we didn't have long to wait though as Tony Keegan received a fine pass from Shane McCormack and the wing back split the posts to open the Davitts account. From the Cross' kick out, Davitts launched an attack down the right wing and a well timed run from midfielder Mark Hughes was unstoppable and he doubled the lead. The Davitts inside forwards were causing the Crossmaglen defenders problems, the pace and movement of Dan McKeever and Paul Nixon along with the guile and strength of Shane McCormack, the latter two combined well to set up another chance but it was just wide. The hosts made a visit to the Davitts half but the attack was snuffed out and a breakaway involving Jack Rafferty from CHB and Paul Nixon was finished in style by Ronan Devlin. Ten minutes of dominance was halted when Tony was penalised for a foul on the Crossmaglen wing forward and the south Armagh side finally registered on the scoreboard. They pulled another one back two minutes later, but another period of dominance saw Davitts other midfielder Conor Williamson score a point after a fine move. Then possibly the score of the game came when Tony Keegan rolled back the years and went on a jinking run from half back passing several would-be opponents and finishing in style with a right foot point. Not to be out done by his fellow half back Jack Rafferty stepped up and slotted a magnificent 45 into the strengthening breeze. Mark McKeever having a solid game at full back followed his marker out the field and gave away a needless free to allow the Rangers to keep their score ticking over, their only remaining scores of the half came from another conceded free, and a 45 taken short which caught the Davitts defence sleeping. But Davitts ensured their dominance was rewarded with points from the fisted effort of Conor Loughran, a Jack Rafferty score from play and another from Tony Keegan, this time improvising with his back to goal he looped the ball over his head and the Crossmaglen bar to finish the Davitts scoring in the first half and leave the score line at the break 0-5 to 0-10 in the visitors favour. 

The second half started as the first did with Cross winning the throw-in possession and quickly firing the ball in looking for a goal. Fortunately for the Davitts defence it went wide, but it was a sign of things to come. Ballyhegans' corner forward Dan McKeever then had a clear goal chance himself but blasted wide when some composure was called for. A point for the busy James McKeever opened the second half account for the sky blues, and a long range effort wind assisted from all of 50 yards was misjudged by the Rangers young net minder with the bounce on hard ground taking it over his head and the bar. That score was in the fourth minute of the second half, Davitts did not add to their tally again until the 25th minute. In that time Davitts lost shape and concentration, and stopped doing the things which brought success in the first half. A point from a free and two more from play by the home side went unanswered, On the twelfth minute only some desperate last gasp defending prevented the Amber and Black lads hitting the net, however they were successful only two minutes later when lax marking in the Davitts defence allowed the Rangers full forward to punch the ball to the Davitts net. Ballyhegan Coach Joe McGrane tried to shift the momentum with a series of substitutions but our lads just couldn't halt the flow of Crossmaglen attacks, playing on instinct now the Ballyhegan men were soaking up a lot of pressure. The siege was lifted in the 25th minute when the talented Thomas Reynolds made it through the Cross blanket defence to fist a point and restore some belief. The Davitts keeper then dealt the Rangers another blow with a fine point from a 45. The South Armagh men dropped their heads and the last few minutes were dominated again by the Davitts however four wides and a point from sub Tiernan Power was not a good enough return and Crossmaglen still felt they had a chance as they pushed for goals to break the Davitts hearts again as they did in the first fixture, however their efforts only yielded two more points in injury time. As the final whistle sounded the better team had won but made it much more difficult than it should have been. Instead of feeling satisfied with a winning and ruthless performance, the team, management and spectators who made the long journey south were simply relieved.

Final score was Crossmaglen Rangers II 1-10 Ballyhegan Davitts 0-15. The Davitts lined out as follows:-
Jonny McKeever (Capt.) 0-1, Roger McCormick (Tiernan Power 0-1), Mark McKeever, Shane McKeever (jnr), Tony Keegan 0-2 (Joey Murphy),                     Jack Rafferty 0-2, Conor Loughran 0-1 (Conor Morgan), Mark Hughes 0-2, Ronan Devlin 0-1 (Rory McKeever), James McKeever 0-1, Conor Williamson 0-2, Thomas Reynolds 0-2, Daniel McKeever, Shane McCormack (Gerard Morgan), Paul Nixon.