2013 SENIOR FOOTBALL
ROSTREVOR SENIORS' SCORERS FOR 2013
Colm Clerkin – 1-24 (27)
Brian Cole – 5-09 (24)
Damian Magee – 0-23
Adrian Mackin – 0-22
Conor Magee – 2-15 (21)
Conor Doyle – 2-15 (21)
Joseph Fegan – 4-05 (17)
Tomas Mulholland – 3-05 (14)
Conor Fegan – 1-09 (12)
Shaun Parr – 0-12
John Fegan – 0-11
Richard Reynolds – 1-06 (9)
Brian Keenan – 1-02 (5)
Jonathan Parr – 0-05
Sean Magee – 0-03
Christopher Magee – 0-02
Michael Boyle – 0-02
Eamon McConville – 0-02
Jordan Fegan – 0-02
Jarlath Farrell – 0-01
Martin Cole – 0-01
Gairiad Clarke – 0-01
Declan Magee – 0-01
Jonathan Connolly - 0-01
Sat 5/10/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday Fifteen)
REDS CLAIM BRAGGING RIGHTS AND SURVIVAL
ROSTREVOR 2-14 – 0-12 CUMANN PHEADAIR NAOFA
By Kieran McNally
Goals from Brian Cole and Conor Magee steadied Rostrevor's final-day jitters, and eased them towards an eight-point victory and ultimate survival in Saturday's derby at Pettit Park. The Reds knew, regardless of results elsewhere, that they would be safe upon collecting two points against their relegated neighbours, and it was evident from the start of the contest that the 'Point were intent on spoiling those plans. However, Warrenpoint would never go in front, as Rostrevor took control of the match after a rather close opening quarter. Liatroim Fontenoys' defeat in Downpatrick means that they occupy the play-off place in the first division, and will play Carryduff in a relegation/promotion showdown.
Rostrevor's fantastic late-season form has been the key to their survival with four straight wins; each one being of equal importance in the context of their seemingly endless battle. Christopher Magee fired over inside twenty seconds with a third minute point from Aaron Magee cancelling out that score. The Reds' squad appeared to contain more of their established stars than Warrenpoint's, but they were nervous in their approach play in the early stages, as the must-win nature of the contest seemed to provide an obstacle. Adrian Mackin and Donach McAleenan exchanged frees before a further score from Mackin gave Rostrevor a tentative 0-3 to 0-2 lead by the 10th minute. However, the Blues were punished for giving away cheap possession inside their own half when Eamon McConville secured a turnover and set Brian Cole through on goal with Cole holding his nerve to arrow the ball past the flat-footed Conor D'Arcy for his fourth goal in four games. The Reds failed to capitalise on their boost though, with CPN landing the next two scores to close the gap again with Gary McMahon's 45-yard free and a James Heaney point reeling Rostrevor back in.
However, the next score proved to be pivotal in producing the final outcome, as John Fegan's enterprising run along the end-line allowed him to feed possession across to the onrushing Conor Magee to palm in a 14th minute goal for Rostrevor. Magee's major seemed to settle the Reds to a larger extent than Cole's earlier effort, and they tagged on the points to consolidate their lead further. Conor Doyle, Conor Fegan and two more points from Conor Magee placed Rostrevor in a position of real comfort by the end of the opening half with Ciaran McCartan's sole response being the only remaining blemish on an eight-point; 2-7 to 0-5, lead for the Reds at the interval.
HALF TIME - ROSTREVOR 2-07 - 0-05 WARRENPOINT
Conor Fegan sent over a good point in the 36th minute to settle Rostrevor into a second-half that would be reasonably uneventful, to a large extent. Warrenpoint never threw in the towel at any stage, however, their belief has been gradually stripped from them over a particularly harsh league campaign, which saw them lose narrowly on a number of occasions in the early weeks before derailing completely in a tough finish. This resulted in an acceptance of their fate in this contest, and they never looked capable of overturning their deficit. Aaron Magee and James Murdock were on target either side of a brace of frees from Adrian Mackin, as Rostrevor maintained their position of power for the duration of the third quarter.
Donach McAleenan had a promising over the 'Point, and his free narrowed the gap momentarily with Brian Cole sending over soon after. Warrenpoint required a goal if they were going to put Rostrevor into any state of panic in the closing stages, but Tony Fearon remained untested and that would have disappointed the young Blues. Ryan and Donach McAleenan were on target with points from Brian Cole and Colm Clerkin continuing the pattern of play in the final quarter. The game crept towards its conclusion without any notable incidents with McAleenan notching the final points of Warrenpoint's disappointing campaign, and Richard Reynolds putting the final touches to what has been a superb revival for Rostrevor.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Tony Fearon, Turlach Murphy, Martin Cole, Jarlath Farrell, Christopher Magee (0-1), Michael Boyle, Gairiad Clarke, Tomas Mulholland, Eamon McConville, Conor Magee (1-2), Brian Cole (1-2), Conor Fegan (0-2), John Fegan, Conor Doyle (0-1 f), Adrian Mackin (0-4 4f), Subs used; Caolan Mooney, Colm Murney, Colm Clerkin (0-1 f), Aidan Clarke and Richard Reynolds (0-1).
Sat 21/9/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday Fourteen)
SUPER REDS RACE TOWARDS SAFETY
ROSTREVOR 2-18 – 3-11 BRYANSFORD
By Kieran McNally
Gerard Colgan's Rostrevor were excellent as they produced a power-packed second half to claim a four-point win over Bryansford at a sunny Pettit Park on Saturday afternoon. The Reds were full value for the win, as their sumptuous attacking play, aided by some tremendous score-taking saw them propel themselves clear of a fancied 'Ford outfit. Indeed, they made it difficult for themselves at times with Tony Fearon saving a late penalty from Conor Gribben after they had initially recovered from the concession of three goals in a first half that they had much the better of. Caolan Mooney's second-half cameo would have also pleased a Rostrevor side, that now know that victory against neighbours Cumann Pheadair Naofa in the final game of the season will complete their great escape.
Both sides were without key men, on the day, with Shaun Parr and Colm Murney among those missing for the Reds with Kalum King and Luke Howard amongst the Bryansford absentees. However, there was an electric flow to the match for which credit must go to the referee, Neil Cousins. Rostrevor's Adrian Mackin opened the scoring after some fine trickery with the tireless Timmy Hanna levelling for the Ford inside three minutes. Conor Doyle and Richard Reynolds produced two fine points from the left side to power the Reds into a two-point lead by the 5th minute, but Danny Savage equalised from a close-range free before the first of Bryansford's goals arrived moments later. Conor Gribben was the scorer, cutting in from the right side superbly, to finally crash the ball inside Tony Fearon's near post. However, Rostrevor's response was immediate with their swift attacking football providing Adrian Mackin and Brian Cole with the chances to push the Reds back into the lead with three unanswered frees. Chris Brannigan's free ensured parity by the 15th minute.
The match was being played at a breathless pace, but it was Rostrevor who were playing with the higher intensity and Bryansford were largely finding it difficult to build offence. Conor Doyle fired Rostrevor in front off the outside of this deadly left-boot with Conor Fegan doubling the advantage after a fine run and finish. Doyle tagged on a free in the 20th minute to push Rostrevor into a 0-9 to 1-3 lead. The Ford were always dangerous though with Savage and Hanna in tune with each other throughout, and the former had the ball in the net to level the game once more. It was fortunate in its arrival with Tony Fearon misjudging the high delivery to present Savage with a close-range chance which he placed in off the inside of the post. The same man put Bryansford in front with Adrian Mackin and the sand-haired sniper trading frees as the game winded down towards half time. Jarlath Farrell brought the Reds back on terms on 28 minutes with a fisted effort after superb work from the corner-back, with another brilliant point from Conor Doyle putting Rostrevor back in front; 0-12 to 2-5. However, Danny Savage was involved twice as Bryansford applied late pressure to stun the Reds and carry a three-point lead into the break. Firstly, he arrowed over from the left side before laying the ball off to the onrushing Gribben to smash in low to the corner of the net at the short whistle.
HALF TIME - ROSTREVOR 0-12 - 3-06 BRYANSFORD
Conor Doyle's potential as a leading-star for future Rostrevor teams was being underlined with remarkable power and precision in front of the posts and the minor player fired over a fine individual point to narrow the gap, before Adrian Mackin's free brought the deficit down to the minimum by the 38th minute. Rostrevor were unsteady, at times, in trying to force an equaliser and Danny Savage punished their over-eagerness with an effort from the placed ball on 43 minutes. Doyle replied with a free from the ground before Tomas Mulholland provided the major turning point at the end of the third quarter. Conor Fegan was instrumental with his typical driving from the right before playing the ball through to Mulholland, who hammered the ball past Brian Brannigan to put Rostrevor into a two-point in the 45th minute; 1-15 to 3-07.
Eamon McConville launched over from range to extend the lead with Chris Brannigan keeping a fading 'Ford in touch, but it was time once again for the inspirational Brian Cole to score another vital goal for Rostrevor on 53 minutes. The Reds worked possession forward on that prosperous right-side before Doyle filtered the ball through to Cole, who bravely punched the ball past Brannigan to push the Reds into a five-point lead. Martin Cole extended the lead with a rangy effort with the reliable Mackin on hand to send Rostrevor clear entering the closing stages. There was time though, for Bryansford to produce a grandstand finish in attempting to salvage a result. Christopher Brannigan fired over twice with Conor Gribben fisting over as the Ford dropped dangerous balls into the Reds' square. However, their fate was sealed with Tony Fearon producing nerve-saving heroics in the second minute of stoppage time, as Conor Gribben's spot-kick was tipped around the post by the young shot-stopper. A breathtaking end to a pulsating encounter at Pettit Park, as Rostrevor delivered their best football of the season, at the best possible time.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Tony Fearon, Turlach Murphy, Martin Cole (0-1), Jarlath Farrell (0-1), Christopher Magee, Michael Boyle, Gairiad Clarke, Eamon McConville (0-1), Tomas Mulholland (1-0), Richard Reynolds (0-1), Brian Cole (1-1), Conor Fegan (0-1), John Fegan, Conor Doyle (0-6 2f), Adrian Mackin (0-6 4f). Subs used; Conor Magee and Caolan Mooney.
Sat 7/9/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday Thirteen)
FINISHING FLURRY PUTS REDS ON TRACK
RGU DOWNPATRICK 0-11 – 1-10 ROSTREVOR
By Kieran McNally
Rostrevor overcame constant Downpatrick pressure to grind out a narrow win in a tense battle at Thomas Russell Park on Saturday evening. The Reds were on the back foot for much of the contest but an excellent finish to the game, added to another vital goal from Brian Cole, ensured that they left the county town with the points and with survival within reach. Downpatrick missed many scoring chances in both halves, and it would come back to haunt them as Rostrevor notched the four final points in the closing ten minutes to send their followers into delight.
Downpatrick were making all the early impressions on this contest, and the Reds found it extremely difficult to move possession out of their own half in the opening quarter. The accuracy of Conor McGrady from the dead-ball was vital for the hosts, as their struggles from open-play came into focus as the contest progressed. Nevertheless, the Hoops would move into a four point advantage by the 15th minute with four frees. McGrady accounted for three of these with an excellent grounded effort from Jarlath Brannigan putting a dominating Downpatrick in control. Rostrevor were quite laborious, and they were often required to exercise much patience in their approach play. However, the ball-carrying abilities of John Fegan, Shaun Parr and Jarlath Farrell, out of defence, allowed the Reds to bear fruit eventually in the final third. Adrian Mackin angled over their opening point in the 16th minute from the left-side after good work from Fegan and Conor Doyle.
Despite this, RGU were enjoying territorial dominance with a mixture of swift movement and foraging runs from deep leaving Rostrevor’s defence stretched to its maximum. Brannigan sent over from a 45’ after Martin Cole had diverted McGrady’s effort beyond the post. The Hoops were impressive in creating chances for their talented forwards with the Turleys and Peter Telford working hard, but their finishing was agonising from their perspective. Garrett Trainor and Damien Turley both fired wide, before Jarlath Brannigan finally sent over their first point from play on 20 minutes to leave the scores at 0-6 to 0-1 in Downpatrick’s favour. There would come a time when RGU would rue their failure to capitalise further on their superiority, and the closing moments of the half would prove pivotal in the eventual turning of the contest. Damian Magee sent over a free for Rostrevor to narrow the gap on 24 minutes before two quality efforts from Adrian Mackin, after a superb feign, and off the outside of Shaun Parr’s boot brought the deficit down to two points before the interval. Downpatrick would bemoan missed goal chances in the final embers of play, with Conor Curran being most culpable after driving wide when well-placed in front of Tony Fearon’s net.
HALF TIME – RGU DOWNPATRICK 0-06 – 0-04 ROSTREVOR
Rostrevor’s willingness to engage in a sporting war in order to salvage points in this relegation battle has been their saving grace, and their experienced campaigners are providing excellent leadership. This most testing of second halves may prove testament to that when the final whistle is blown this season. Neal Cunningham pointed in the opening seconds of the half to push the lead out to three points, with Conor McGrady’s free extending the advantage four minutes later, as it seemed that Downpatrick would keep the scoreboard ticking over to the extent that the Reds would be incapable of levelling the contest if not goal-assisted. However, their persistence in trying to penetrate beyond Downpatrick’s powerful midfield took them to the wings, and there was joy to be found in a wide and measured Rostrevor approach. Adrian Mackin sent over a free before the influential Brian Cole delivered another monumental score for the Reds. Cole initially rose to flick Damian Magee’s searching ball onto the post before the quick reactions of Tomas Mulholland gave the ace-forward another chance to squeeze the ball past Jonathan Deeny and into the corner of the net. The same man sent Rostrevor into the lead for the first time on 41 minutes, but a brace of scores from Conor McGrady sent Downpatrick back in front, once more, by the end of the third quarter as the season entered its most important fifteen minutes.
McGrady’s sixth free appeared to be highlighting a point that Brian Cole’s goal had been keeping Rostrevor in the contest against a largely superior, allowing for wastefulness, Downpatrick, however, the final ten minutes saw the tables remarkably turn in the Reds’ favour. Rostrevor were superb in the closing stages, and whilst Downpatrick still misfired in that period, the composure and the character of the visitors pushed them over the line in a dramatic finish. John Fegan narrowed the gap after a series of passes eventually found the hard-working forward in space. Rostrevor’s equaliser was an excellent effort from the boot of minor-star Conor Doyle, as he took the initiative to strike over a left-footed point over the crowded defence on 52 minutes. RGU’s ball-winning capabilities at midfield presented them with opportunities to regain the lead, but these were in vain and Shaun Parr steadied himself to place over an effort under pressure in the 56th minute to give Rostrevor the lead. An error-ridden conclusion to the match ensued with both sides kicking away possession for obviously different reasons with Rostrevor’s eagerness to send over an insurance score being mirrored by Downpatrick’s panic to send over the point to ensure their safety for next season. As it transpired, it would be Adrian Mackin who would gain possession to turn and score from close-range in the final minute to seal a rare, dramatic and all-too important away win for Rostrevor. This victory, whilst causing some possible unrest for Downpatrick, allows the Reds to breathe a little easier in the relegation battle with Warrenpoint slipping through the trapdoor, and An Riocht bound to join them unless there can be some mathematical miracles for them in their final game at Bryansford. Play-off possibilities remain for Rostrevor, but their recent upturn in form would suggest that survival is close for them.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Tony Fearon, Turlach Murphy, Martin Cole, Jarlath Farrell, Darren McIlhenny, Michael Boyle, Eamon McConville, Colm Murney, Tomas Mulholland, Damian Magee (0-1 f), Shaun Parr (0-2), Conor Doyle (0-1), John Fegan (0-1), Brian Cole (1-1), Adrian Mackin (0-4 1f). Sub used; Christopher Magee.
SUN 1/9/2013 - MORGAN FUELS DOWN SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP – GROUP A
REDS GET OVER CHAMPIONSHIP BLUES
ROSTREVOR 4-13 – 2-11 CUMANN PHEADAIR NAOFA
By Kieran McNally
Rostrevor turned on the style to end Warrenpoint’s senior championship campaign with an eight-point victory at St. Mary’s Park in Burren on Sunday evening. The Reds, already eliminated from the group, had nothing more than local pride to play for but were comfortable winners over a ‘Point side that failed to match their neighbours’ potency throughout the hour. This was an open game of football, and the sizeable crowd were treated to some excellent scores and fine attacking play throughout, before the contest faltered in the closing stages.
Warrenpoint’s aim of qualification took a massive blow after twenty seconds, as the game started in the worst possible manner from their perspective with Tomas Mulholland surging forward to send the ball to the net for Rostrevor after his initial effort had been parried. Richard Reynolds pointed on four minutes to extend the Reds’ lead, but the ‘Point response was superb as they forged themselves in front by the end of the third quarter. Jamie Grant fired over a fine point before an excellent finish from Aaron Magee, across ‘keeper Tony Fearon, levelled the match on 9 minutes. Gary Boyle sent over from the right side to place the Blues in front in the 12th minute, however, the evident gaps in a youthful ‘Point defence were soon to be punished further.
Conor Doyle continued his promising season for Rostrevor by sending in his second goal of the championship campaign on 16 minutes; collecting Adrian Mackin’s pass from the end-line to finish from close-range. Shaun Parr tagged on a point to leave the scores at 2-3 to 1-2 with ten minutes remaining in the half. Warrenpoint were struggling to contain the Reds’ attacking movement, and Rostrevor missed the chance to push further ahead with Adrian Mackin’s penalty being well saved by Conor D’Arcy after Doyle had been upended inside the square. This seemed to give the Blues an impetus to lift their game, and a brace of scores from the accurate Gary Boyle narrowed the gap to one, but they were never able to close the deficit entirely, with Conor Fegan and Damian Magee both on target, along with Boyle, as the Reds maintained their advantage approaching the interval. However, the final moments of the half would be the outright winning of the game for Rostrevor with a quick-fire brace of vital scores giving Rostrevor a six-point lead by half-time. Tomas Mulholland was the man for the Reds, again, crashing another goal to the roof of D’Arcy’s net before Damian Magee sent over from the placed ball to leave Warrenpoint in serious trouble at the break.
HALF TIME – ROSTREVOR 3-05 – 1-05 WARRENPOINT
The Reds were not in the spirit to ease up on their rivals, and continued to perform with a degree of confidence in the second period to keep their distance from the ‘Point. Conor Doyle and Gary Boyle traded scores, with John Fegan and Aaron Magee doing likewise as the gap remained at six points throughout the third quarter. Warrenpoint were never completely out of the contest though despite the scoreline, and Gary Boyle saw an effort ricochet off the upright as they fought gamely to retrieve the situation. Conor Fegan split the posts with an effort off the outside of his boot with Ryan Boyle responding from close to the by-line before additional points from Damian Magee and Shaun Parr made Warrenpoint’s fate inevitable by the 48th minute; 3-10 to 1-08.
Ryan Mallon and Richard Reynolds exchanged points, as the ‘Point’s search for goal became central to their play. Gary Boyle, from a free, and Eoin Henry closed the gap to six with Conor Magee’s point keeping the Blues at bay, but the life-line goal arrived for Warrenpoint on 57 minutes. Jamie Grant was the scorer; clawing in Ryan McAleenan’s delivery. However, any hope of a late comeback was to fade in the final minutes with Conor Magee cancelling out Grant’s effort with a palm into the corner of the net. Conor Doyle’s point sealed the Reds’ victory in the second minute of stoppage time as Warrenpoint’s championship challenge came to an end at the hands of their rivals.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Tony Fearon, Turlach Murphy, Martin Cole, Jarlath Farrell, Eamon McConville, Michael Boyle, Darren McIlhenny, Tomas Mulholland (2-0), Conor Magee (1-1), Damian Magee (0-3 2f), Shaun Parr (0-2), Conor Fegan (0-2), Conor Doyle (1-2), Brian Cole, Adrian Mackin. Subs used; Richard Reynolds (0-2), Declan Magee, John Fegan and Colm Clerkin.
Fri 23/8/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday Twelve)
TOWN TOPPLED AS COLE GOAL BOOSTS REDS
ROSTREVOR 1-08 - 0-09 CASTLEWELLAN
By Kieran McNally
Brian Cole rifled home a 56th minute goal to breathe new life into Rostrevor's season, and to earn an important win against high-flying Castlewellan at rain-drenched Pettit Park on Friday evening. The Reds have climbed out of the automatic relegation slots with this gutsy victory, with a sterling second half display lifting the hosts to their first league success in four months. Castlewellan's form this season has been superb, but the increasing need for the Reds to seal a win, and the willingness of their players to dig deep ultimately proved the difference.
Castlewellan were coming into this contest with their place in the championship quarter-finals assured, and in second position behind a Burren side that had inflicted their only defeat of the season, but a series of poor wides in the opening minutes allowed a possession starved Rostrevor to take the early lead. Adrian Mackin capitalised on an error to fire the Reds in front, before Conor Doyle split the posts from distance, after an excellent catch and turn. However, the play was largely in the Rostrevor half as a particularly slick Castlewellan side made their way upfield with comfort at times, and they finally made this pay to level the scores before the end of the first quarter. Fintan McGreevy angled over a free on ten minutes, with Colm Flanagan sending the ball over from the right wing, as the Town started to take control.
Shorty Trainor's accuracy as a player, with Burren, was among the best in the country at times, but his Castlewellan side had great difficulty finding the target in the damp conditions, and despite McGreevy, from a free, and Sean Dornan placing them into a two-point lead, Rostrevor were being kept in the contest by their overal wastefulness. Adrian Mackin and Fintan McGreevy traded two scores each as the game winded down to the half-time whistle, and with the light dropping, as well as the conditions becoming more treacherous on the field, the second-half would become an exercise in composure within a war of attrition; and so it would transpire.
HALF TIME - ROSTREVOR 0-04 - 0-06 CASTLEWELLAN
Rostrevor's season has been riddled with second-half slips, and with Cahal Crilly extending the Castlewellan lead on 32 minutes, there must have been a feeling that this was going to be another game that would eventually see them fade, however, the Town would only score twice more as Rostrevor stood up to the challenge. Two quick points from Brian Cole brought the deficit down to one by the 38th minute, with the veteran forward showing great poise to make the most of the limited space he had to operate within. With the scores now at 0-7 to 0-6 in favour of Castlewellan, the deteriorating conditions saw both teams struggle to improve their position and stalemate prevailed until an exhilarating final ten minutes from a Rostrevor team that had gradually wrestled the initiative away from a beleaguered Town side.
The Reds levelled the contest on 50 minutes after a fine interchange between Shaun Parr and Conor Magee resulted in the latter slotting over. As Pettit Park continued to darken, Donal McKibben responded to give Castlewellan back their lead in the 53rd minute, but the overall turgidity of the play favoured Rostrevor's more experienced campaigners, and two of their seasoned players combined to give them a huge lift with four minutes remaining. Martin Cole ventured upfield and aimed for the point that would bring the Reds their equaliser, but as his effort dropped off the upright into the hands of his brother Brian; the outcome was far more significant in the context of their season with the ball being sent crashing low to the net under the body of Michael Cunningham. The Town battled on in vain, and were reduced to 14 men after Ruairi Brogan's red card in the closing stages. They would narrow the deficit to one in a frenetic finish, but the Reds weren't to be denied on this night with the hard-working Sean Magee tucking over an insurance point in the second minute of injury time to seal a vital win in the battle to stave off relegation. Rostrevor join An Riocht on seven points, with their superior point-difference lifting them above the Kingdom with three league games remaining.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Tony Fearon, Turlach Murphy, Martin Cole, Jarlath Farrell, Sean Magee (0-1), Michael Boyle, Gairiad Clarke, Colm Murney, Conor Magee (0-1), Damian Magee, Shaun Parr, Tomas Mulholland, Conor Doyle (0-1), Brian Cole (1-2), Adrian Mackin (0-3 2f). Subs used; Joseph Fegan, Conor Fegan and John Fegan.
FRI 16/8/2013 - MORGAN FUELS DOWN SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP – GROUP A
GOALS WIN IT FOR SAVAL
SAVAL 3-10 – 1-11 ROSTREVOR
By Kieran McNally
Saval’s greater ability to grab goals saw them past Rostrevor in this championship encounter in Pairc Esler on Friday night. On balance, the contest was generally close, but with Darren Quinn’s front-six on form, they were able to provide themselves with a cushion to protect them as the Reds battled in vain to reel them in. This result gives Saval a real chance of progression heading into their final game against Mayobridge, with Warrenpoint still breathing down their neck. Rostrevor are out with a game to play.
This was a vitally important game for a Rostrevor side that were facing elimination, and they started with real purpose; Shaun Parr landing their opening score inside the first minute. However, Saval’s need for the points sparked an instant reply, and points from Kealan Rice and Niall Madine had the Greens in front by the 6th minute. The match had begun with some excellent direct football, and Rostrevor were bemoaning their luck moments earlier when Sean Magee paced up-field unchallenged to smash an effort off the crossbar. The Reds would regain their lead before the end of the first quarter with Adrian Mackin punishing a foul on Parr to slot over a free, and Conor Fegan pointing after a neat lay-off from Conor Magee.
The sides were extremely well matched, with Rostrevor looking slightly more dangerous with Martin Cole dominant in their back-line, but a defensive lapse from the Reds allowed Saval to take the first advantage on 17 minutes. The ball had been floated in rather ambitiously towards the Rostrevor posts, but with some indecision allowing the ball to sneak through the grasp of the Reds’ defenders, Fergal McConville was on hand to finish the ball to the net after a neat exchange with the unmarked Rice. Liam Turley added to the lead almost immediately, but Rostrevor had been doing well and brought the deficit back down to one point with scores from Eamon McConville and Adrian Mackin. Liam Turley responded with a superb effort from the wing, however, points from Shaun Parr and a free from Damian Magee levelled the scores at 0-7 to 1-4 in the 28th minute. It was then that Saval provided some of their best football of the season to send over four unanswered scores in three minutes to give themselves a comfortable lead at the break. The busy Stephen Kearney, Daniel McCarthy, and two scores from the superb Fergal McConville helped Saval into this position, but it was an equally impressive burst at the start of the second half that did the real damage.
HALF TIME – SAVAL 1-08 – 0-07 ROSTREVOR
Rostrevor needed a positive start, but Saval’s overall dominance in the midfield sector allowed them to push forward. Fergal McConville extended the lead with a free on 34 minutes before Jarlath McCarthy found himself foraging forward from full-back, to send the ball to the net off the body of Tony Fearon in the 39th minute. The Reds had brought on Joseph Fegan, and then Conor Doyle to add some attacking power to their search for the goals that would save their championship, and points from Damian Magee, Doyle and another from Shaun Parr brought the gap down to five points as the game entered its final ten minutes; 2-9 to 0-10
Ruairi Digney placed over a free to settle Saval in the 52nd minute, but four minutes later, Rostrevor had the goal that they had craved. Perhaps, it was fortuitous in its eventual awarding, but Shaun Parr’s initial graft close to the endline gave him the chance to fist the ball across the square, and with Conor Doyle, amongst others, following in to force the ball home. It seemed that they were back in it, however, any thoughts of a dramatic comeback were quashed moments later, as Kealan Rice had the ball in the net at the other end after sidestepping Fearon to smash in from close-range. Joe Fegan’s late free was a mere consolation for a Rostrevor side, whose final group game against Warrenpoint will mean very little more than local pride to them. Saval, on the other hand, have done their case plenty of good with this win, and a draw will be enough for Darren Quinn’s men to guarantee progress with Mayobridge.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Tony Fearon, Michael Boyle, Martin Cole, Jarlath Farrell, Turlach Murphy, Eamon McConville (0-1), Gairiad Clarke, Colm Murney, Conor Magee, Damian Magee (0-2 2f), Shaun Parr (0-3), Sean Magee, Conor Fegan (0-1), Brian Cole (0-1), Adrian Mackin (0-2 2f). Subs used; Conor Doyle (1-1), Tomas Mulholland and Joseph Fegan.
THURS 8/8/2013 - MORGAN FUELS DOWN SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP – GROUP A
BRIDGE FIND THEIR TOUCH TO EARN OPENING WIN
MAYOBRIDGE 1-15 – 1-08 ROSTREVOR
By Kieran McNally
Kevin O’Rourke and Brendan Coulter scored twelve points between them as Mayobridge produced a stirring second-half display to overcome Rostrevor in the opening game of the Down Senior Championship at a damp Pairc Esler on Thursday evening. The Bridge struggled to convert their chances in the opening half, allowing for Rostrevor to take a lead into the break, but a fortunate goal from John Caldwell provided the platform on which last year’s beaten finalists built this group-stage victory.
The Reds couldn’t have asked for a more potent start to their evening with three unanswered scores to open up a cushion by the 6th minute. Damian Magee split the posts twice in this period with the returning Adrian Mackin sending over a free. Much to their discontent, Mayobridge were particularly wasteful in the opening ten minutes with four successive wides allowing Rostrevor to settle themselves; but the screw was slowly turning and their more purposeful attacking play began to reap its rewards. Kevin O’Rourke was outstanding on the evening, and he fired over two dead balls, either side of a fist from Brendan Coulter to level the scores, before a quick brace of scores from Shane and Conleth O’Hare had the ‘Bridge ahead; 0-5 to 0-3 by the 20th minute.
Rostrevor were struggling to create any rhythm in their offensive play and with a relatively slick surface, their unwillingness to kick the ball inside made their play ponderous at times. Tomas Mulholland, however, showed the benefits of carrying the ball directly into the Mayobridge defence, earning a free for Damian Magee to send over. The finalists of 2012 were creating the larger threat though, and with Coulter winning his personal duel with Michael Boyle, the chances were being created for O’Rourke to extend their lead and two scores from the former Armagh minor, one from the placed ball, had the advantage at three points approaching the interval. Adrian Mackin narrowed the gap with a well-taken free before the Reds produced a grandstand finish to the half to retake the lead at the break. Sean Magee’s invention deserves credit as he weaved through the ‘Bridge defence before feeding possession through to the onrushing Brian Cole to flick over Shealan Strain and into the net. Mackin added his third free in stoppage time to give Rostrevor a two-point lead at half-time.
HALF TIME – MAYOBRIDGE 0-07 – 1-06 ROSTREVOR
Both sides seemed to have left their luck in the changing rooms as the second-half started with a flurry of misfortune in each goalmouth. Brendan Coulter and Sean Magee saw efforts come off the post at either end, and Damian Magee also fired miserably wide from close range before Kevin O’Rourke’s free brought the deficit back down to the minimum on 40 minutes. Rostrevor were arguably playing with a degree of comfort before the game changed on a moment of madness in the 42nd minute. An unchallenged ball into the Reds’ rear-guard looked set to be dealt with by Tony Fearon, but the slippery ball eluded his grasp before substitute John Caldwell stooped to palm the ball to the net to put Mayobridge in front again; 1-8 to 1-6.
The Bridge never looked back from this moment of fortune and rallied to put the contest beyond Rostrevor entering the final quarter. With O’Rourke and Coulter sharing the spotlight in the Mayobridge attack, they helped Mayobridge extend their lead to eight points with three scores each, and it was all over for a battling Rostrevor side. They never really recovered after Caldwell’s goal, but there were a few consolation scores from Declan Magee and Gairiad Clarke as they kept working until the final whistle. However, the last say would belong to second-half introduction Caldwell as he added a long-range point in injury time to help Mayobridge to a seven-point win, and a positive start to their championship campaign. Rostrevor will need to maintain, and improve upon their performance, for seventy minutes in their next two matches to progress, but now they have it all to do.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Tony Fearon, Turlach Murphy, Michael Boyle, Jarlath Farrell, Shaun Parr, Colm Murney, Richard Reynolds, Conor Magee, Martin Cole, Damian Magee (0-3 2f), Sean Magee, Tomas Mulholland, Gairiad Clarke (0-1), Brian Cole (1-0, Adrian Mackin (0-3 3f). Subs used; Conor Doyle and Declan Magee (0-1).
Fri 2/8/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday Eleven)
HAVERN'S HAPPY HOUR SINKS REDS
BALLYHOLLAND HARPS 1-07 - 0-08 ROSTREVOR
By Kieran McNally
Tony Havern's second half goal proved to be the difference as Ballyholland edged out Rostrevor in a low-scoring encounter at Fr. Lynch Park on Friday evening. Havern pounced seven minutes after the interval to level a contest that appeared to be going Rostrevor's way, and that proved to be the catalyst for their narrow victory with the Reds notching only one solitary point thereafter. This was a draining affair between two sides that set their stalls out to neutralise their opponent's attacking threat, and this contributed largely to the lack of scoring chances. With four games remaining, Rostrevor are looking at three home matches that they must take results from or an immediate return to division two will start to become probable, as opposed to possible.
The last meeting between the two sides saw Rostrevor progress to a senior championship semi-final in 2011, but with the Reds needing the win for very different reasons, the game started poorly from their perspective with two scores from Tony Havern and Paul Murphy sending Ballyholland into the early lead. The Harps' defensive work this season has been commendable and with the lowest concession rate in the division, albeit with a game less under their belt than most, Rostrevor found it difficult to break them down in the opening exchanges. However, they join Rostrevor amongst the lowest scorers in the league so a spectator expectant of a high-scoring spectacle was always going to feel rather underwhelmed. Ballyholland's inability to translate their turnovers into a larger advantage allowed their visitors to gather some confidence and they took their chances to level the contest by the 9th minute. Brian Cole fired over after some fine individual work with Conor Magee feeding Colm Clerkin to equalise.
Sweepers and packed defences have started to epitomise everything about these two sides during the summer and the scoring rate in this encounter relied heavily on the ability to hit efforts from range and it was a point of extreme quality from Joe Murphy that sent Ballyholland back in front by the end of the first quarter. The sides were level again moments later though, with Jonathan Parr's '45 splitting the posts. Both sets of attackers were finding it difficult to enter the scoring zone in possession and alternating fortunes from the placed ball saw Rostrevor finally forge ahead on 22 minutes with Tommy Kane's inaccuracy at one end being punished by the in-form Clerkin at the other. Neither side seemed capable, however, of taking outright control of the contest and Ballyholland were back on terms with Tony Havern's second point leaving the scores at 0-4 each with the interval approaching. Rostrevor's ability to find the target from distance was collectively better than that of their hosts though and, with this proving to be an important tool in this particular contest, they took the advantage into the half-time break with two excellent efforts from the dead ball from Colm Clerkin and Jonathan Parr.
HALF TIME - BALLYHOLLAND HARPS 0-04 - 0-06 ROSTREVOR
The first-half provided a prime example of nullifying attacking intent, and this will be encouraging for both sides entering their tricky championship openers next week. It did mean that very few goal chances were presented and it was on the taking of these that this game would eventually be decided. Rostrevor received the first of these during a strong start to the third quarter and they really should have launched themselves into a five-point advantage in the 34th minute with Conor Magee shooting over from close range when set clear on goal by the hard-working Sean Magee. Leading by three points and with Ballyholland remaining in their defensive shell, all signs seemed to be pointing to an escape from the relegation places, but all that changed with a moment of fortune and opportunism on 37 minutes. Rostrevor have been struggling to consolidate their position when taking the lead in matches and the alert Tony Havern became the latest to punish a lapse in their concentration; punching to net after the ball fell kindly to him close to goal. This sparked an immediate decline in the Reds' momentum and with tensions coming to the boil, both on and off the pitch, Ballyholland regained their lead entering the final quarter with Havern pointing from Ronan Murtagh's lay-off.
This allowed for the Harps to set themselves up to frustrate their visitors once more and with second-half introduction Joseph Fegan leaving the field for treatment during this period, Rostrevor's fragile confidence had been hit once more. Brian Cole's equaliser on 52 minutes proved to be their final score of the evening, and despite Adrian Mackin's first appearance of the season, they weren't able to raise a white flag with Ballyholland's refusal to offer up chances giving them the opportunity to drag themselves to a sixth league win. Paddy McAnulty gave his side the lead with Kieran Murphy sending over to push the Harps into an unassailable lead, given the nature of the contest and the relentless pressure being applied by the Ballyholland defence. Their defence will take a lot of credit due to the victory, but Rostrevor's performance was as impressive in that respect with Havern's goal providing the sole difference between the sides on a night when either side really could have won the game. Rostrevor's current run of form dictated that it just wasn't to be a victory for them on this occasion. They have fallen into the automatic relegation places with this narrow defeat being their seventh reverse in eight league games, however, the proximity of the sides above the drop zone will present chances to rectify that in the remaining games but with time running out, the next win needs to arrive before it may just be too late. Ballyholland will be breathing contently entering the championship with twelve points most likely being enough to secure safety at this stage, and a system that appears to be working well. Both teams are in action on Thursday night with Rostrevor taking on Mayobridge, and Burren providing formidable opposition for the Harps in the championship openers at Pairc Esler.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Jonathan Parr (0-2 '45s), Turlach Murphy, Martin Cole, Jarlath Farrell, Richard Reynolds, Eamon McConville, Declan Magee, Shaun Parr, Conor Magee (0-1), Damian Magee, Sean Magee, Brian Cole (0-2), Gairiad Clarke, Colm Clerkin (0-3 2f), Conor Fegan. Subs used; Joseph Fegan, Adrian Mackin and Shane Murney.
Fri 26/7/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday Ten)
BURREN MADE TO WORK BY RESISTANT REDS
ROSTREVOR 0-08 - 0-13 BURREN
By Kieran McNally
Burren kept themselves in the title hunt with a relatively comfortable, if hard-earned, victory over Rostrevor at a warm Pettit Park on Friday evening. The use of Gairiad Clarke as a sweeper, and a defensive set-up, allowed the Reds to keep their talented visitors within their reach for the majority of the contest, but they were unable to match that going forward and Burren's limited scoring proved to be enough by the seaside. The main difference between the sides was the intensity in attacking movement and, even allowing for Rostrevor's packed defence, Burren's intent and pace in their forward surges forced their scores and sealed their points.
Burren's championship credentials are there for all to see this season and, even allowing for the absence of Donal O'Hare, they were very credible in their early attacking play. James McGovern remains an excellent outlet for the St. Mary's outfit and he fired his side into the lead inside the opening twenty-five seconds; with a free from Sean Murdock and a superb drive from Eamonn McGovern securing a 0-3 to 0-0 advantage by the 5th minute. To their credit, Rostrevor were not daunted by the challenge, but early wides prevented them from settling into the contest and it took until the 10th minute for the Reds to open their account with Colm Clerkin's pointed free. However, the continual pattern of the contest provided a stark contrast in the sides' respective ease at creating scoring chances, and Burren's fluidity through the centre, often spear-headed by Kevin McKernan and Eamon Toner, provided the perfect platform to counter the Reds' sweeper and they resisted the temptation of kicking possession in order to carry the threat towards Jonathan Parr's posts, often resulting in free-kicks due to the tenacity of the Rostrevor defence. Christopher Carroll fired over two of these from the right wing to have Burren in control at 0-5 to 0-1 by the end of the opening quarter.
Rostrevor were often found guilty of gifting possession to Burren whenever they entered the attacking third, and erratic passing allied with over-indulgence, provided the main curse of their overall performance. Despite this, their first point from play belied that with Sean Magee's early delivery finding Conor Fegan who in turn beat Ryan McGovern to fire over. That score allowed Rostrevor to realise their potential when they use the ball, and they did enjoy a spell of pressure that bore fruit as Colm Clerkin capitalised on over-zealous Burren tackling to send over two difficult frees to bring the Reds back to within one point. There was an element of labour in the arrival of Rostrevor's scores and with Burren's comparatively slick approach play pushing them forward, they had a storming finish to the opening half and surged into a five-point lead before the interval. Eoin McCartan sent over a superb point from the right before Kevin McKernan slotted over a similar effort from the same wing. In fairness, Rostrevor were defending extremely well and Burren did not have a goal chance of note, but their general superiority at midfield in the first half meant that they had enough possession to push themselves further ahead. Christopher Carroll and Sean Murdock sent over a point each from the placed ball to have their side in a comfortable position at the break.
HALF TIME - ROSTREVOR 0-04 - 0-09 BURREN
Paddy Carr's charges were kept in for some time at half-time, and perhaps that had an impact on the Burren men as they seemed to lose a bit of their momentum in a second period in which they only registered two points from play. In truth, a lack of intensity could have very easily cost them the result in the end, as Rostrevor were, at times, one touch shy of scoring what may have been a game-changing goal. Christopher Carroll's accuracy from the dead-ball was notable as he placed Burren into a six-point lead in the 34th minute, but the Reds were still keeping in touch and Colm Clerkin's free from range kept them in the hunt. However, Sean Murdock replied immediately for the visitors with his shot blazing the crossbar on its way over as Burren's only goal chance resulted in a point. The second-half introduction of Joseph Fegan added some much needed impetus into the Rostrevor attack, and his power provided a fresh problem for Dan McCartan. Fegan narrowed the lead on 37 minutes as he got between Cathal Murdock and his full back to punch Damian Magee's punt over for a score. In the middle of sixteen scoreless minutes for Burren, Rostrevor were able to secure a lot of possession at midfield, but their main problem was the failure to utilise the evident threat that Joseph provided in the inside line. He was host to one high ball in that period with his excellent high-fielding drawing an easy free for Clerkin on that occasion, with the Reds' full-forward closing the gap to four entering the final quarter.
Rostrevor's chances of securing a result were whittling away with every passing minute that they weren't punishing Burren's barren spell, and when Tommy Farrell pointed from a free to bring that drought to an end in the 52nd minute, the result seemed to be decisively heading to St. Mary's Park. The Reds had restricted Burren quite impressively during the second half, but it was their inability to reel off consecutive scores that kept them at bay and their challenge faded gradually until it was gone with the dismissal of John Fegan for a high forearm challenge whilst in possession in the 55th minute. Perhaps the red card was a byproduct of the tempestuous nature of the closing stages, but it did seem rather unfortunate despite the impetuosity of the action. Kevin McKernan and Conor Doyle traded scores in injury time, as both sides experienced varying emotions with Burren keeping the pressure on Castlewellan at the top, as Rostrevor slip back into the bottom three following An Riocht's comfortable victory over Ballyholland. The Reds visit Fr. Lynch Park in Ballyholland next Friday evening in another vitally important league match, with Burren's home game against the league leaders providing the main-event next weekend as the league races into its closing stages.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Jonathan Parr, Turlach Murphy, Michael Boyle, Jarlath Farrell, Richard Reynolds, Shaun Parr, Declan Magee, Tomas Mulholland, Conor Magee, Brian Cole, Sean Magee, Damian Magee, Gairiad Clarke, Colm Clerkin (0-5 5f), Conor Fegan (0-1). Subs used; Joseph Fegan (0-1), Conor Doyle (0-1), Padraig McGrath, John Fegan and Aidan Clarke.
Fri 5/7/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday Nine)
DUNAVIL DRAMA AS KINGDOM COMEBACK EARNS POINT
AN RIOCHT 3-10 - 1-16 ROSTREVOR
By Kieran McNally
Chris Killen capped off a spirited An Riocht comeback as they battled from eight points down to take a point off relegation rivals Rostrevor at the end an exhilarating contest at Pairc an Riochta on Friday night. It seemed improbable, to say the least, that the Kingdom would get anything from this game against their dominant visitors but an incredible final quarter saw them almost taking the points with Jonathan Parr's penalty save sparing the Reds' blushes in the closing moments. Putting aside the chaos of that conclusion, this was a vital league game and neither side will be particularly pleased with a point but in terms of endeavour, entertainment and encouragement, there was plenty to be pleased about.
Recent games between the two sides have been generally cagey affairs with scores being at a premium, however, this encounter was as entertaining as the importance that was attached to the game; it had everything. The Reds, buoyed by the timely return of Eamon McConville to their starting line-up, started much the brighter of the two sides and were finding plenty of success in the middle of the field. This allowed for the quick delivery of the ball into Joseph Fegan and Colm Clerkin, and with Clerkin starting to return to his imperious best, he fired over two early scores either side of a well-worked effort from Sean Magee to give the Reds a 0-3 to 0-0 lead after seven minutes. It didn't take long for the Kingdom to respond though, as Paddy Cole narrowed the deficit with two quick scores, one from the placed ball, before an innocuous coming together inside the large rectangle saw Oliver Burke award a 13th minute penalty to the hosts. Chris Killen was the man entrusted with the spot-kick and his strike slipped into the centre of the net to give his side a two-point lead. It could be argued that Rostrevor were a little unlucky to be behind following a promising start in which they were largely superior, but they were visibly unmoved by the penalty concession, as they charged down-field to close the gap immediately with Tomas Mulholland's half goal-chance shaving the crossbar on its way over.
Further scores from Colm Clerkin (free) and Damian Magee gave Rostrevor back their lead by the 17th minute as they continued to enjoy a greater amount of possession than their relatively starved opponents. If you take your chances though, possession means little and John Clarke proved this point with an excellent goal in the 19th minute to rifle his side back in front. Masses of credit must go to Chris Killen, whose intelligent palmed lay-off allowed Clarke to gather possession and send low into Jonathan Parr's left-hand corner. Once again, the question was asked of Rostrevor and they came up with the right answer, finding the net moments later through Joseph Fegan's clever close-range flick inside Stephen Doran's near post. The match was being played at a tempo to be expected given the stature it will have as the season continues, and Paddy Cole had the teams level again on 25 minutes with a free from close range. However, it was the visitors who were the more deserving of a lead, on the balance of play, and they would secure a two-point advantage at the interval with Fegan and an another free from Clerkin giving Rostrevor a very welcome half-time lead.
HALF TIME - AN RIOCHT 2-03 - 1-08 ROSTREVOR
The opening half had provided many talking points in terms of penalty decisions, goal chances and fantastic score-taking, but the entertainment served up in a tremendous second period would surpass that. Rostrevor's play had to this point only garnered a two-point lead, mostly due to the brilliance of Killen, Cole and Clarke in converting their chances but in the third quarter, the limited supply to the deadly trio dried up immensely and Rostrevor took complete control on the scoreboard for a period. It looked to be a spell that would eventually secure a win for the Reds as six points were fired over inside twelve minute to open up an eight-point lead. Net-minder Jonathan Parr stepped up to fire over two '45s with Damian Magee's left footed free sandwiched in between. Colm Clerkin reeled off the next three scores with the third of these; his second point from play on the night, being a neat snapshot from 25 yards. It looked like an unassailable lead, but there was a definite chink in Rostrevor's defensive armour starting to emerge. The minimal offensive threat offered by An Riocht showed signs of improving and they started to make progress as the Reds seemed to dangerously accept their lead and leave themselves vulnerable, as the game's momentum started to swing in favour of the Kingdom. Conor Cole angled over from the left to bring the deficit down to seven before a deflected goal from Deaglan O'Reilly, off Eamon McConville, was ruled out due to the awarding of a free to the attacking side when an advantage may have been playable. Killen shot over the resulting free to leave the game at 1-14 to 2-05 in favour of Rostrevor entering an unforgettable final quarter.
The scores taken by Conor Cole and Chris Killen, added to the nature of how they arrived, displayed an amount of character from the hosts, but once Colm Clerkin chalked up his eighth point of the evening to bring the lead back out to seven points with 13 minutes remaining, it did look as though they would fall well short. However, the great wordsmiths of the world would find it impossible to qualify the remainder of a remarkable contest. Chris Killen sent over a free to retain hope of an unlikely comeback, though the interest of a disenchanted home support would be captured as Rostrevor shot themselves in the proverbial foot with Jonathan Parr's indecisive clearance allowing Paddy Cole to race clear and feed the near-by John Clarke who palmed home from close-range to put three points between them. The Reds had recovered from the earlier goals in a positive manner but the momentum was with An Riocht now, and their defence visibly recoiled as the Kingdom chased them down. Chris Killen and a fisted effort from Darren White brought the gap down to the minimum, before an incredible minute of action saw Parr become the hero for Rostrevor. Oliver Burke awarded what looked like a game-securing second penalty to An Riocht following a pull-back, but this time Killen's effort was saved for a '45 by the legs of the Reds' keeper, who then followed that up by saving that attempt from above the crossbar; it was a show of fantastic resilience from Parr. Killen did eventually equalise from a free for the Kingdom on 58 minutes as it appeared that their momentum would carry them through but the same man had to do it all again in stoppage time after Colm Clerkin's ninth point had given the visitors their lead back in the final minute of normal play. It wasn't over yet though, as Clerkin's long distance free gave Rostrevor the chance to wrestle the two points back off An Riocht but his effort faded wide of the left-hand upright in a dramatic conclusion and both sides had to settle for a point. Indeed, the result was a fair one for very different reasons as the Kingdom's drive and character brought its reward after the largely impressive Rostrevor's dominance over the majority of the clash had set them up for the win; a win that, in the end, the Reds just didn't have the conviction or poise to secure. Rostrevor's overall good performance will breed more confidence than that of their hosts, for whom the comeback and result will do more. The week's fixtures see the men in red and black climb out of the drop-zone on score difference ahead of An Riocht, and the defeated Warrenpoint and Liatroim as the relegation fight rumbles on into its mid-season break.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Jonathan Parr (0-2 '45s), Darren McIlhenny, Michael Boyle, Jarlath Farrell, Gairiad Clarke, Eamon McConville, Turlach Murphy, Shaun Parr, Martin Cole, Damian Magee (0-2 1f), Sean Magee (0-1), Tomas Mulholland (0-1), Conor Fegan, Colm Clerkin (0-9 7f), Joseph Fegan (1-1). Sub used; Brian Cole.
Fri 28/6/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday Eight)
SAVAL SALVO FLOORS REDS
ROSTREVOR 1-11 - 2-17 SAVAL
By Kieran McNally
Shattering scoring bursts have been the undoing of Rostrevor in recent weeks and it continues to be an area of particular concern as an incredibly well-drilled Saval hit an unanswered 2-08 in fifteen first-half minutes to seal an important win to consolidate their league position at Pettit Park on Friday night. Mayobridge, Loughinisland and Annaclone have all benefitted from periods of scoring dominance against the Reds this season and Fergal McConville and Daniel Hughes combined to ensure that the pattern continued on another frustrating night for the relegation-threatened, and absentee-plagued, seasiders. As the season passes its half-way stage, Rostrevor's joint-position at the bottom of the table provides real bother as there is no sign of immediate respite, ahead of their crunch-clash with An Riocht next week.
The provision of early ball into the rather isolated inside-lines at either end of the ground seemed to be the aim for both sides in an end-to-end opening quarter, and with Joseph Fegan and Fergal McConville both receiving quality possession, chances were being created. Rostrevor's Conor Doyle, fresh from impressive performances in Down's minor championship campaign, provided the first score of the contest angling over from the right wing in the 2nd minute. Liam Turley powered over an equaliser for the visitors before the first goal chance of the game fell to the Reds; Joseph Fegan being unlucky to see his shot rebound off the crossbar. It truly was an open start to the contest, with Saval taking the lead moments after that scare with Stephen Kearney sending over a good point only for Colm Clerkin to level the scores again at 0-2 each after 6 minutes. Neither team looked set to dictate proceedings and there was no definite pattern to the play but it appeared as though Rostrevor were eventually settling better to their task and had themselves two points in front by the 14th minute with scores from Conor Fegan and a rangy placed effort from Clerkin providing the lead. However, those scores were not consolidated with any meaningful pressure from the Reds and with the gathering of momentum eluding the hosts, Saval's quick-fire replies provided the spring-board for a tidal-wave of attacks towards Raymond McDonald's posts that swept Rostrevor out of this contest in a similar fashion to their defeat in Mayobridge a fortnight previous. Indeed, the nature of the following onslaught will concern Gerard Colgan's men.
Fergal McConville sent over two frees in quick succession to bring his side back onto level terms, before an additional 2-6 without reply before the half-time whistle punished a Rostrevor side that were struggling desperately to retrieve any sort of possession at midfield. It was a rather deadly Saval salvo as the scores were dropped over from every conceivable angle. Brendan Turley charged forward to give his side the lead on 19 minutes with McConville and Daniel Hughes accounting for four further unanswered scores inside four minutes to open up a five-point lead. It was irresistable, at times, from Saval as their greater cohesion and familiarity saw them compose a series of well-crafted attacks that baffled the Rostrevor defence. Daniel Hughes' return to action for Saval is positive ahead of Down's qualifier series, and it will have pleased James McCartan to see his veteran attacker race in behind the Reds' rear-guard to plant an excellent goal past McDonald on 24 minutes. Stephen Kearney tucked a difficult shot over the bar to increase the lead before the net bulged once again with the interval approaching. This time it was the quick-thinking of Fergal McConville catching Rostrevor's net minder off-guard with a clever flick from McCarthy's menacing punt sending the ball at pace into the centre of the goal. It was a remarkable turn of events in the second quarter that garnered this lead for Saval, especially given the initial exchanges, but there had been a marked contrast in the drive and confidence in both sides and as each score brought Saval a little more swagger, Rostrevor's young charges saw their heads drop lower and lower as the half-time whistle went.
HALF TIME - ROSTREVOR 0-04 - 2-10 SAVAL
It can be widely accepted that the game, as a contest, was over with a twelve point differential heading into the second half, however, there was a return to the early rhythm of the encounter and there was entertainment to be found in the remainder of the match. Rostrevor showed tremendous amounts of courage in how they continued to battle and despite their task, there seemed to be an incredible belief that an enormous effort would gain some tangible reward, but Saval kept their focus and performed at their same level to secure the win. Colm Clerkin converted a free to re-open Rostrevor's account in the 32nd minute, but Michael McCarthy and a 45'' from keeper Peter Murphy helped to keep the men in green on top. Sean Magee, playing in centre-half forward for Rostrevor, fired high between the posts but again it was a double impact from Saval, McConville and Kearney this time, that halted any potential charge from the Reds. There would be an element of dominance for Rostrevor, on the score-board at least, as the match approache its conclusion, with Tomas Mulholland and Colm Clerkin reeling off three unanswered scores for the hosts by the 45th minute.
Danny Hughes turned well to place the ball between the posts on 48 minutes but the hard-working Clerkin was quick to reply with his sixth point of the evening. Hughes, now back in his stride, tagged on a fantastic right-footed effort against the touchline, however, it was Rostrevor that were finishing the stronger and there was an element of discontent amongst Saval ranks as they were starting to lack composure and could have easily presented welcome goal chances to the Reds with poor turnovers in their own half contributing to a late flourish. Tomas Mulholland came out of the game with credibility after a spirited display at midfield and he side-footed over his second point in the 54th minute before Rostrevor landed a score-board boosting goal. Joseph Fegan was at the core with his powerful running and fisted pass setting up the opportunity for Colm Clerkin to finish to the net on the goal-line to leave eight points between the sides. Saval would have the final say through Liam Turley's point, but their job had been completed in that excellent second-quarter. It is hard to envisage the match without that Saval burst, but one would have to say that their victory was embellished greatly during that period as for the rest of the contest it was even. Indeed, the visitors had a fourteen-point swing at that stage of the match with their quick goals doing considerable damage also, but they had that spell and got the major scores; Rostrevor couldn't curb it and there's much work to do in that regard. The big game next weekend will most certainly be at Pairc na Riochta in Dunavil as Rostrevor visit An Riocht for the first proverbial "relegation dog-fight" of the season. Victory is a must for both sides as they find themselves tied at the bottom alongside Warrenpoint and Liatroim; however for Rostrevor to gain that, on this and previous performances, it will be important to prevent scoring streaks at any stage of the contest.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Raymond McDonald, Darren McIlhenny, Michael Boyle, Jarlath Farrell, Declan Magee, Martin Cole, Turlach Murphy, Shaun Parr, Tomas Mulholland (0-2), Conor Doyle (0-1), Sean Magee (0-1), Richard Reynolds, Conor Fegan (0-1), Colm Clerkin (1-6 5f), Joseph Fegan. Subs used; Piaras Kane, Jonathan Connolly and Damian Magee.
Fri 14/6/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday Seven)
REDS LASHED AS 'BRIDGE FIND FORM
MAYOBRIDGE 3-12 - 1-03 ROSTREVOR
By Kieran McNally
There have been a lot of comments made on depleted Mayobridge's sub-standard sequence of results so far this season, however, they were simply dominant against a youthful Rostrevor side at rain-drenched St. Patrick's Park on Friday night. The torrential conditions made for difficult viewing, worse so if from Rostrevor, as the 'Bridge blitzed their opponents with a series of first-half scores setting them up for an easy win. Both sides are feeling the effects of migration with a number of key men absent, and added to injury and county commitments, there was a rather makeshift feel about this encounter. However, there were two league points to be sought after and the Reds never really got close as Mayobridge, led superbly by the powerful Kevin O'Rourke, picked up their second league win.
The match got off to an extraordinary start given the final analysis, and Rostrevor found themselves netting the opening goal inside the first minute. The 'Bridge failed to deal with an optimistic punt into their rearguard with Conor Fegan gaining possession to turn Lynchehaun and fire past Shealan Strain. It had been a dream start for the Reds, but with Mayobridge probing in those early exchanges, the tide swiftly turned in their favour and they were on terms by the 5th minute. Kevin O'Rourke was outstanding for the hosts and it was the ex-Dromintee man that brought the 'Bridge their equalising goal; surging through a parting Reds' defence to send the ball high into Jonathan Parr's net. The match had started at a breathtaking pace and both sides had contributed to that, however, scores were initially hard to come by and with conditions making it extremely difficult to capture consistent possession, the match looked set to become a titanic tussle, and one that would be contested in a turgid middle-third. Conor Magee and John Quinn traded scores during this period to leave the contest poised at 1-1 each after 10 minutes.
However, the game gradually became a calculated dissection of a Rostrevor side that failed to make any serious impressions on the contest thereafter. It was a difficult night for the visitors as they became subject to wave after wave of Sky Blue offence, and their inability to thwart that saw them completely obliterated in this game. The 'Bridge developed momentum and whilst they had their fair share of opening half wides, they were getting into scoring positions with ease, with O'Rourke at the centre of everything positive on the night. Conal Poland sent his side into the lead in the 11th minute with points from Miceal Lively and an O'Rourke free consolidating that lead. Rostrevor's defence was being over-worked as a unit and with the 'Bridge options presenting on either side of the front six, the Reds were having serious difficulty in stopping delivery into the inside forwards. Conleth O'Hare was showing extremely well and he sent over a fine score to open up a four point lead, and he was involved again moments later, off-loading to O'Rourke who placed the 'Bridge into a 1-6 to 1-1 lead by the 16th minute. They did fail to add to that lead, through, for a considerable time in the second quarter. Rostrevor's young charges were not supplying any meaningful ball into the final third, and this allowed Mayobridge to consistently build from their strong midfield pairing of Jamie Barr and John Caldwell. Corey Quinn added a score for the hosts on 26 minutes to further extend their lead. Rostrevor lost Conor Magee during that period and his absence was sorely missed as the visitors lost all influence at midfield, however, there was one bright spark in debutant Jonathan Connolly as he fired over an excellent reply for the Reds but a brace of frees from O'Rourke had the 'Bridge in complete control at the interval.
HALF TIME - MAYOBRIDGE 1-09 - 1-02 ROSTREVOR
The Reds came out in their black jerseys for the second half, with the rain having its expected effect on mobility, and their lighter attire had an immediate effect on their reappearance on the field. Mayobridge found themselves defending for the first time in the contest, to a large extent, in the third quarter as Rostrevor, now playing with whatever wind advantage there was on the night, fashioned a few early chances. Damian Magee sent over off his left boot to narrow the deficit to six points in the 32nd minute, and in doing so ignited the brief hope of a second-half revival. Joseph Fegan arguably had the best chance to set Rostrevor on their way but his attempt on goal was pressured and his effort screwed wide of the near post. In essence, that was that for the visitors as the net was bulging at the other end of the ground within a minute. Mayobridge, largely dormant in the second half to that point, worked the ball up to Conleth O'Hare and he steadied himself to crash the ball under Parr, sending the 'Bridge into a nine-point lead.
The game was now completely over as a contest, without question, and Rostrevor remained scoreless for the rest of the evening. Their tally of 0-2 from the sixth minute of play raising particular concern, the Reds found themselves unable to mount any challenge on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter as the hosts picked off a few scores to emphasise a facile win. Gavin Walsh tagged on a point before Shane O'Hare raced through an absent Rostrevor defence to finish past the exposed Jonathan Parr on 47 minutes. Kevin McClorey rounded off the evening's scoring as the game approached its merciful final whistle. The conditions were unfortunate as the pattern play had something owing to that, however, the respective performance of both sides were ultimately reflected in the scoreline. Rostrevor have slipped into the bottom three after this result, which also sees their score-difference for the season badly affected. Their next game cannot come quickly enough, and with the visit of Saval to Pettit Park in a fortnight's time representing the next challenge, there is a real imminent need for league points. Bearing in mind that Saval have had a testing few weeks, this game is another must-win for Rostrevor. Mayobridge can probably breath a little easier now after recent displays failing to produce much for them; this one certainly did.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Jonathan Parr, Darren McIlhenny, Michael Boyle, Gairiad Clarke, Jonathan Connolly (0-1), Shaun Parr, Declan Magee, Conor Magee (0-1), Tomas Mulholland, Damian Magee (0-1), John Fegan, Padraig McGrath, Richard Reynolds, Joseph Fegan, Conor Fegan (1-0). Subs used; Sean Magee, Gareth Caulfield and Aidan Clarke.
Fri 7/6/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday Six)
CLONE'S CASE FOR DEFENCE SECURES COMEBACK WIN
ROSTREVOR 0-10 - 0-12 ANNACLONE
By Kieran McNally
Annaclone's defensive acumen saw them eventually overcome Rostrevor in a close encounter at sunny Pettit Park on Friday evening. The 'Clone defence restricted their hosts' six forwards to a solitary point as they battled from four points down at one stage to seal an important away win. Indeed, the failure of the Rostrevor men to make a greater impression in more advanced areas was the catalyst for their eventual demise with the supreme shooting of their midfielders providing the bulk of their scores on a frustrating night. Annaclone didn't hold the lead until the final quarter as it took a late purple patch to compliment what had been a fine display from their backs, in particular Niall Higgins who excelled at full-back.
Tomas Mulholland, in his debut season for the Reds, has been impressing with his high catches in the midfield, but he opened his scoring account for the campaign inside the first thirty seconds to give Rostrevor the early lead. Annaclone, however, were being led into battle by the robust Kevin Anderson and he levelled the scores in the 4th minute with his snapshot dropping inside the post. The action was largely end-to-end in the opening ten minutes, but the Reds were having difficulty in penetrating the effective defensive screen presented to them by their visitors. It was Rostrevor, though, who found the scores more accessible in the opening quarter with Conor Magee finding the best route to the posts sending his side into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead with two scores from range by 8 minutes. The 'Clone were understandably making better progress through the Reds' rearguard, but their poor conversion rate seemed to be undermining that with four successive wides in four minutes allowing Rostrevor to stretch their lead further with fewer chances.
Tomas Mulholland arrowed over his second score of the evening before Richard Reynolds tagged on a fine effort to send his side into a four-point lead in the 20th minute. It was looking good for the hosts at this stage, but surely it was only a matter of time before Annaclone found their range and, whilst the Reds were starting to bemoan their own ambitious shot-selection in respect of the defensive cover, the visitors scored three unanswered points to close the gap to one point approaching the interval. Kevin Anderson, Rory Simpson and Colm Fegan were the scorers as the screw began to turn for the Clone. Rostrevor did, however, respond before the short whistle with two Damian Magee frees, the second being of particular quality from the right ring, leaving them with a healthy three-point advantage when Con Reynolds called time on the opening half.
HALF TIME - ROSTREVOR 0-07 - 0-04 ANNACLONE
The warning signs had been there for Rostrevor in the opening half, that their forwards weren't getting the scoring chances and that their approach, whilst having them ahead, may have been flattering to deceive considering Annaclone's missed chances in advanced areas. Anderson powered over a free in the 33th minute to reduce the deficit, but the Reds were on top in the middle-third in the third quarter and began to exert a degree of dominance on possession. Despite this, they showed very little ability to convert this into scores on the night and with their well-marshalled inside forward-line dropping deeper for possession, they missed three reasonable chances to restore their lead before Conor Magee eventually scored on the run in the 41st minute.
For the ten minutes that followed, however, the hard-working and gutsier Annaclone bossed proceedings. Rory Simpson fired over a good point on 43 minutes before the lessons learned in that squanderous first-half allowed the visitors to storm into the lead; scoring four points in four minutes this time. Colm Fegan has been around this Annaclone team for a number of consistent seasons and he dragged his team level with two quick frees, before John Haughey gave his side the lead for the first time on 48 minutes with a low drive. Fegan doubled the advantage seconds later, as the Clone's momentum appeared to be driving them past a Rostrevor side that had been brought to its knees in that salvo. The storm eventually passed for the Reds though, and their superior fitness allowed them to get themselves back on terms entering injury-time. There were still moves lacking the finish for the hosts but with the excellent Annaclone defence now being stretched in their weary state, the Reds were closing in on former net-minder Christopher McCartan's posts. Damian Magee sent over from the placed ball after Joseph Fegan had been dragged back close to the end-line before a disasterous turnover in the 'Clone rearguard was punished by an equalising point by Michael Boyle in the 59th minute. In retrospect, Boyle's late score was a real goal chance for Rostrevor, but it was the safer option at that time. Annaclone needed to withstand a late barrage from the Reds, but Gareth Greenan and man-of-the-match Anderson steadied down to provide the two scores in stoppage time that delivered another two vital league points to the men from the Bronte homeland. Rostrevor's injured marksman Adrian Mackin may have been the missing ingredient for the hosts tonight as his continued absence is beginning to sting the side's scoring power it seems after a third consecutive defeat, and their first at home. Their attentions must turn quickly to their visit to Mayobridge and an important fixture between two sides that are now searching for a steadying victory in the bottom half.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Jonathan Parr, Darren McIlhenny, Michael Boyle (0-1), Liam Fegan, Declan Magee, Christopher Magee, Damian Magee (0-3 3f), Conor Magee (0-3), Tomas Mulholland (0-2), Richard Reynolds (0-1), John Fegan, Gairiad Clarke, Shaun Parr, Joseph Fegan, Conor Fegan. Subs used; Brian Cole, Padraig McGrath, Conor Doyle and Colm Clerkin.
Fri 24/5/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday Five)
LAST-GASP GOAL BRINGS JOY TO MAGPIES
KILCOO 1-10 - 1-07 ROSTREVOR
By Kieran McNally
Martin Devlin fired home a last-minute goal to finally decide an enthralling encounter with Rostrevor at Pairc Eoghain Rua on Friday night. Ryan Johnston was the outstanding man on show for the Magpies and he provided the assist for Devlin to place past Jonathan Parr in the dying stages of this contest. Indeed, both sides were under-strength on the night with Kilcoo's county stars, including Conor Laverty and Paul Devlin, along with Rostrevor's captain Shaun Parr and Jarlath Farrell being out of action on the evening. Despite that, this contest was one that was extremely competitive and one that kept the sizeable crowd guessing right until the final whistle.
The enthusiastic Jordan Fegan provided some moments of real quality in the opening half, and he was first on the scoreboard for Rostrevor in the 2nd minute; striking over after claiming good possession in front of Daryl Brannigan. However, the early possession belonged to a tenacious Kilcoo side, and they were able to control this element of the game for most of the hour. The Magpies can also boast an array of speedy forwards, the most impressive being Ryan Johnston on the night, and his surging runs were at the centre of all his side's positive attacking. Indeed, the county champions were able to translate this onto the scoreboard and led by 0-3 to 0-1 by the end of the first quarter. Martin Devlin tucked over a close-range free with Gerard McEvoy and Johnston adding further scores to secure that lead.
The Reds were very quick to neutralise this threat though, and began to push high up the field in an attempt to unsettle their hosts and to force errors. The movement of the Fegans in the inside-line in this period allowed Rostrevor to gain a foothold in the contest and their attempts to unsettle the Magpies began to reap rewards with goalkeeper Stephen Kane finding himself over-carrying with a rabid-like Reds' attack surrounding him close to the posts; John Fegan converted the free. Both sides were evenly poised at midfield for the duration of the contest, but the slight wind advantage allowed Rostrevor to deliver early possession into their forwards if given the opportunity and with Joseph Fegan's power beginning to trouble Aidan Brannigan, the chance was created for brother John to send over his second free of the evening to level the scores on 19 minutes. The same man sent over from range to place Rostrevor into the lead moments later, with a fine catch from Tomas Mulholland drawing the foul that led to the opportunity. Jordan Fegan added his second point of an entertaining first half to double the advantage, as the visitors gathered momentum, however, missed goal chances from Joseph and Jordan Fegan in the closing stages of the half would come back to haunt the Reds, as Kilcoo had the deficit back down to the minimum on the half-time whistle with Seamus O'Hanlon's piledriver soaring between the posts in injury-time.
HALF TIME - KILCOO 0-04 - 0-05 ROSTREVOR
The Magpies were always going to come out for the second-half with their typical fluency and culture, and they went straight for Jonathan Parr's posts on the restart with a series of attempts on goal. However, they were guilty of some poor wides from open-play, aswell as the placed ball, and despite dominating the early exchanges, it took them all of ten minutes to over-turn the Rostrevor lead. The excellent Johnston levelled the match on 35 minutes with a high effort with a succession of surging runs from all over the park making Darragh O'Hanlon and Niall Brannigan key members in their dominance. Martin Devlin squeezed a free inside the upright to give his side the lead on 40 minutes, but an excessive amount of hand-passes close to goal, on occasion, allowed Rostrevor to keep them restricted on the scoreboard. Brian Cole's introduction at half-time was providing some interest at the other end of the field though, and the experienced attacker ensured that the Magpies weren't going to be in charge for long. Darragh O'Hanlon powered over to open up a two-point lead in the 42nd minute but John Fegan responded immediately with his fourth free as the Reds threatened to re-gather some rhythm. Johnston's fantastic long-distance run and finish had the lead back at two points as the game seemed to be leaning towards an eventual Kilcoo win, but it was then that Rostrevor burst back into the contest with a goal. Brian Cole was instrumental, rounding his man before being upended in the large rectangle for a penalty; Joseph Fegan placed his spot-kick to the corner of the net and the Reds were in front, 1-6 to 0-8 entering the final ten minutes.
Kilcoo rallied though, as they looked to put together three successive league wins, and Darragh O'Hanlon engineered an equaliser from a difficult angle before Niall Brannigan found himself on the end of a patient build-up to send the Magpies into a late lead. The defensive screen now firmly in place, it seemed as though the hosts were going to frustrate Rostrevor for the closing five minutes of the contest, and with a series of turnovers in the middle-third benefitting Jim McCorry's side, they looked on course to see it out. In an exciting finale though, Michael Boyle floated over a fine score from distance for the Reds in the 58th minute to level the contest for the fifth time on the night. Perhaps, that would have been a fair result for both sides given the relative performance of both sides, but Kilcoo had the final say with Devlin's injury-time goal sending their fans into raptures at the end of a thoroughly engaging encounter.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Jonathan Parr, Darren McIlhenny, Michael Boyle (0-1), Liam Fegan, Damian Magee, Christopher Magee, Declan Magee, Tomas Mulholland, Conor Magee, Jordan Fegan (0-2), John Fegan (0-4 4f), Conor Fegan, Richard Reynolds, Joseph Fegan (1-0 pen), Brian Keenan. Subs used; Brian Cole, Padraig McGrath and Martin Cole.
Wed 8/5/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday Four)
SECOND HALF BOLT FROM THE BLUES EARNS THE SPOILS
LOUGHINISLAND 1-09 - 1-05 ROSTREVOR
By Kieran McNally
In the smallest corner of East Down, just east of Seaforde, St. McCartan's Park is arguably the most hard-to- find ground in the county, but it also remains a very difficult place to get a result out of. Rostrevor were the visitors on Wednesday night, and despite a brave effort, the sheer tenacity of a well-drilled Loughinisland saw the Reds fall miserably amidst a second-half of testing winds and crushing efficiency. The fact that Rostrevor failed to score from play in the second-half has much more to owe to an inpenetrable Blues' defence than it does to the conditions; and credit is due for the manner in which they shut out the Reds and held their nerve despite trailing at the break.
Rostrevor were faster to settle to their task and, with the wind at their backs, looked confident in possession. Richard Reynolds' opening point came after five minutes of sustained pressure for the Reds, and when Damian Magee angled over moments later, it seemed as though the visitors would make the most of their advantage. Loughinisland were struggling to attack with any degree of composure and were guilty of some wayward shooting in the opening quarter, and with Shaun Parr sending over a third point for Rostrevor in the 8th minute, it looked reasonably ominous for the East Down men. Having said that though, as the half wore on, Rostrevor had great difficulty in penetrating a rabid-like 'Island defence, and the drawing-board was working overtime to no avail.
Points against the wind can be a precious comodity and Dominic McClements' fisted effort represented a breakthrough for Loughinisland; and one that would potentially prove vital. Damian Magee sent over a free after a foul on the marauding Shaun Parr to restore the Reds' three point advantage in the 11th minute, but both sides would only muster one point each in the remainder of the half; much to the eventual discontent of the Rostrevor contingent in particular. Patrick McKinney pointed for the hosts, with Conor Fegan firing over a free in the final minute of the half for the Reds.
HALF TIME - LOUGHINISLAND 0-02 - 0-05 ROSTREVOR
The second half belonged, almost entirely, to Loughinisland as the Reds had great difficulty making any meaningful impact in the final third. Being forced to over-play possession, at times, with an unwillingness to move the ball forward into the breeze, Rostrevor were gradually pushed out of the contest. Conor O'Reilly tagged on a score on 33 minutes to begin his side's third quarter crusade, and with the play rarely moving beyond the '45 yard line, the pattern of play from this moment on consisted of a throng of horizontal passes from Rostrevor, followed by a clinical sucker-punch. Conor Megoran dragged his team level by the 41st minute with a brace of scores, and the writing was starting to appear on the wall at that stage.
Loughinisland rarely ascended above second gear, as the game became extremely congested and the tempo was greatly in their favour in the final quarter. There was a growing sense of inevitably about that period as a tiring Rostrevor, who had given all they could in trying to push through, left themselves open to a succession of body-blows. Patrick McKinney gave his side the lead for the first time, and with Rory Mason and Conor O'Reilly, from close range, tagging on further scores in quick succession; Loughinisland held a seemingly unassailable 0-8 to 0-5 lead entering the final ten minutes. If that lead wasn't decisive then, it certainly was on 52 minutes as the Island drew a line under an efficient display with Rory Mason rattling in a goal past an exposed Tony Fearon. As the clock winded down on the action, Seamus O'Hare sent over another point for the Island. However, and perhaps regrettably, Rostrevor had the final say on the scoreboard scoring a goal of their own in stoppage time, with Joseph Fegan slotting home from the penalty spot after Declan Magee was adjudged to have been fouled as he burst forward. This provided scant consolation though for a Rostrevor side that continue to have trauma on their travels. Perhaps, the wind didn't help in the second half, but both teams had issues with that throughout the contest. Loughinisland will be pleased to have maintained their unbeaten record at home after beating Warrenpoint last month, and as noted before the season, victories against the promoted sides is key, and the 'Island seem to be getting on just fine in that regard.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Tony Fearon, Turlach Murphy, Liam Fegan, Jarlath Farrell, Sean Magee, Christopher Magee, Gairiad Clarke, Shaun Parr (0-1), Conor Magee, Declan Magee, Conor Fegan (0-1 f), Damian Magee (0-2 1f), Brian Keenan, Joseph Fegan (1-0 pen), Richard Reynolds (0-1). Subs used; John Fegan and Tomas Mulholland.
Mon 29/4/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday Three)
WASTEFUL STONE THROWN OVERBOARD BY REDS
ROSTREVOR 1-13 - 1-07 LONGSTONE
By Kieran McNally
The second-half return of Ambrose Rogers did little to inspire an off-target Longstone as they fell to a six point defeat at Pettit Park on Monday evening. Indeed, it was the inclusion of Conor Magee into Rostrevor's line-up that provided the greater influence on the evening with the midfielder firing over six points, all from play, in a dominating display. The Jekyll and Hyde qualities of both sides were evident on the night with Longstone falling well short of their performance at Fontenoy Park, earlier in the month, with the Reds, or blacks as it was for this contest, raising their game again after their disappointing display in Hilltown.
The men from Mourne were first on the scoreboard with a point after thirty seconds; Conor Doran finding himself in acres of space to fire over. However, the greater adventure displayed by the hosts in advanced positions was paying dividends and Damian Magee's equaliser was evidence of this as he angled over from the sideline on 3 minutes. The same man doubled his tally moments later, slotting over a free from close in, but Gary Trainor got on the end of a well-worked move to level the scores at 0-2 each after 6 minutes.
The return of Conor Magee to Rostrevor's starting lineup injected some power into the middle third, but it was his eye-cathing score taking that excited the home support, and he gave an indication of what was to come with two impressive scores in quick succession restoring his side's lead. The lively Joseph Fegan extended the Reds' advantage with an impulsive score before winning a free on the right side for Damian Magee to tap over, as Rostrevor took control of the contest. Much of the Reds' ease of passage in this encounter was borne out of an incapability of a number of Longstone men, most notably the usually reliable Ryan Kelly, to convert scorable frees. Their continuing woes in that regard were placed to one side for a moment as Ryan McDowell brought his side to within three points after some good work from Mark Poland. Having said that, the frustrating misses were allying themselves with Rostrevor's ruthless accuracy in the opening half at least, and with Conor Magee in flying form, he helped the Reds into a five-point advantage with two further scores. That was with nine remaining minutes in the first half, but despite a battery of scoring chances falling at the feet of Kelly, Poland and Trainor, the differential remained at the interval with Rostrevor in reasonable comfort.
HALF TIME - ROSTREVOR 0-08 - 0-03 LONGSTONE
The second half was rich in entertainment value with both sides having their moments, as Longstone attempted to battle back. The arrival of Ambrose Rogers, shortly after the interval, will have raised the spirits of Down manager James McCartan, but despite his appearance, it was Rostrevor who went on to open up an imposing ten point lead by the 40th minute. Conor Magee added to his tally with a score from range with Brian Keenan slotting over on 38 minutes, however, it was the next score that provided the largest set-back for the 'Stone. The troublesome high-ball forward appeared to be falling well short of JP Haughian's goal, but with Keenan on red alert, the impish forward provided a wonderful piece of skill to feign past the onrushing keeper, squaring the ball to the grateful Richard Reynolds to volley home from close to goal; a goal created on the soccer pitch one would have thought, but a wonderful display of improvisation from Brian Keenan and goalscorer Reynolds to put the contest out of Longstone's reach.
Gary Trainor took over free-taking duty, to a certain degree, in the second half and shooting into the town end goals of the ground, he found some success sending over two efforts inside two minutes to narrow the deficit slightly. The game did hinge on the scoring of a quick Longstone goal and with Rostrevor taking their foot off the gas amidst an attempted Longstone recovery, Ryan Kelly came close punching over from close range. Shaun Parr steadied the Rostrevor men with a typically inspirational effort from range, and then it seemed as though the Reds had the perfect opportunity to finish off the contest as Con Reynolds signalled for a penalty after JP Haughian upended Brian Keenan inside the large rectangle. Haughian redeemed himself though with a save to his left from Joseph Fegan's spot-kick. Minor county panelist Conor Doyle helped the Reds to forget about this quickly with a fine effort, however, Reynolds was soon awarding a penalty at the other end after Jarlath Farrell was adjudged to have stopped Kelly's effort with his foot; Gary Trainor made no mistake from the spot to narrow the gap to six points entering the final minutes. It was perhaps fitting though, that the excellent Magee sent over his sixth point of the night in Rostrevor's last meaningful attack as they afforded Longstone, now being driven forward by Poland and, Rogers to a lesser extent, the opportunity to break them down. All the visitors could muster was an injury time free from Kelly as Rostrevor closed out the win with fourteen men, following the busy Brian Keenan's late dismissal for a second bookable offence. Overall, Gerard Colgan will be delighted with his side's positive response to their defeat at Clonduff, and the performances of Conor Magee at midfield, and young Liam Fegan at full-back will have pleased him. Gregory McCartan will be scratching his head at his side's poor showing, particularly from the dead ball, as their dismal conversion of scorable frees, virtually saw his side fall out of the contest by the fourth quarter.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Jonathan Parr, Turlach Murphy, Liam Fegan, Jarlath Farrell, Sean Magee, Christopher Magee, Gairiad Clarke, Shaun Parr (0-1), Conor Magee (0-6), Damian Magee (0-3 3f), Conor Fegan, Declan Magee, Brian Keenan (0-1), Joseph Fegan (0-1), Richard Reynolds (1-0). Subs used; Gerard Magee and Conor Doyle (0-1)
Fri 19/4/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday Two)
AMERICA BOUND STARS EARN THEIR STRIPES
CLONDUFF 0-10 - 0-06 ROSTREVOR
By Kieran McNally
Arthur McConville's haul of four points, and a defensive masterclass from Darren O'Hagan frustrated a wasteful Rostrevor side at a windy Clonduff Park on Friday evening. Clonduff were largely nervy throughout an error-ridden contest, but their superior usage of the conditions helped them to overcome the Reds side that underperformed after their excellent display the previous week. A lack of creativity and a series of morale-sapping turnovers saw the Reds fall well short of overturning the Yellas' lead in the second half, despite a reasonably strong wind advantage.
The Yellas were hoping to utilise the breeze in the first half and were immediately on the scoreboard with Niall McPolin turning well to point in the first minute. Despite that, the hosts were unable to push on and seemed rather naive when shooting with the wind. Clonduff's wishful shot selection allowed Rostrevor to capitalise, and the Reds were in front by the 10th minute as two frees from either side presented Damian Magee and John Fegan with opportunities, which they converted. Rostrevor insisted on playing their short passing game to try and break upfield, but their final ball was poor and they never gathered momentum.Henry Brown's presence helped Clonduff to dominate at centre-field, and his surging runs caused trouble for Rostrevor all evening. Arthur McConville benefitted from one such burst, tapping over a free to equalise after Brown was hauled down.
Rostrevor were never able to reproduce the flowing play that saw them ease past Liatroim last week and the amount of turnovers in their play repeatedly frustrated their hopeful supporters. Given the amount of possession being gifted to Clonduff in the middle third, it was only a matter of time before they transferred it to the scoreboard and, despite being reasonably wasteful, they sent over four points without reply to lead 0-6 to 0-2 by the 21st minute. John Fegan (twice), Arthur McConville and Niall McPolin were the scorers with McConville's being the pick of the bunch; floating over a beautiful score from the left side. In fairness to Rostrevor, they rallied in the closing stages of the half and Joseph Fegan almost had the ball in the net after some tenacious play had seen him wriggle clear of Mark McPolin, but his effort struck the side-net. Damian Magee scored from the dead ball in the 28th minute to narrow the gap, but the dangerous Arthur McConville caught well to fire over his third to cancel it out immediately. Shaun Parr scored one of his, and Rostrevor's, two points from play in stoppage time as the Reds remained in contention with the breeze set to favour them in the second period.
HALF TIME - CLONDUFF 0-07 - 0-04 ROSTREVOR
Both sides had their problems in making the most of the wind, however, the volume of possession and lack of creativity from Rostrevor's attacking players after the break made for some uncomfortable viewing for the large contingient of Reds' supporters on the bank. Barry O'Hagan opened the scoring for the second half, and that seemed to hurt the visitors as the ease at which Clonduff were able to compose chances exceeded theirs ten-fold throughout the contest. Rostrevor's John Fegan fired over his second free to put three between the sides once again but that was as close as the Reds could muster as they isolated their forwards to the extent, that they had more possession when they came much deeper. Clonduff's rabid-like defending did much to contribute to that as they seemed hungrier for the win that would kick-start their season. It is no question, however, that they will miss the influence of Arthur McConville and Darren O'Hagan who stood out on the night. McConville tagged on another free on 38 minutes, with Shaun Parr's long-distance response lifting Rostrevor's spirits temporarily, but as the game began to enter its final quarter, scores began to dry up in agonising fashion, particularly for a Rostrevor side who failed to use the wind advantage they had.
High balls into the youthful Tomas Mulholland in the second half were ineffective as the experienced Mark McPolin won every ball that went into the danger area, and opportunites were being restricted by the inability to breach the Clonduff half-back line with possession at pace. It was a mixture of over-playing the ball, and sending long balls into an often static forward line; alien to that which excelled last week, that flattened the visitors. Substitutions were introduced as Rostrevor enjoyed a wealth of possession with Conor Magee looking most likely to influence the result, but there was nothing coming for the visitors and the Yellas held out for the win with Finbarr McConville's point sealing the points. John Fegan's injury added to the discontent on the Rostrevor side as an ankle twist ended his game prematurely. Overall, it was an important win for Clonduff and one that they achieved without playing particularly well in. For Rostrevor, it just goes to show how long a week is in football, and there will be concern at yet another inept away performance.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Jonathan Parr, Turlach Murphy, Michael Boyle, Jarlath Farrell, Sean Magee, Christopher Magee, Gairiad Clarke, Shaun Parr (0-2), Tomas Mulholland, Damian Magee (0-2 2f), John Fegan (0-2 2f), Declan Magee, Brian Keenan, Joseph Fegan, Conor Fegan. Subs used; Conor Magee, Richard Reynolds, Colm Clerkin, Conor Doyle.
Fri 12/4/2013 - Down ACL Division 1 (Matchday One)
REDS STEAL THE SHOW IN CURTAIN RAISER
ROSTREVOR 2-11 - 0-08 LIATROIM FONTENOYS
By Kieran McNally
Rostrevor moved straight to the top of the first division with this impressive nine-point victory over Liatroim Fontenoys at Pettit Park on Friday evening. The Reds' potent mixture of youth and experience saw them out-perform their visitors with some eye-catching scores lighting up the occasion. Indeed, it was an impressive performance from Gerard Colgan's men and the fluidity of their play, at times, will have pleased the management. The newly-promoted Fontenoys were rocked by two goals in the opening quarter that gave them an uphill task against a Reds side looking for redemption back in the top-flight.
The Reds started with a series of purposeful attacks, as they set out to unsettle their visitors in the opening minutes and with John Fegan and Shaun Parr providing excellent distribution for their lively front-six, their early impetus was rewarded with the first goal of the season inside three minutes. Joseph Fegan, who had been denied moments earlier by Dan Morgan, got on the end of a slick move involving his brother Conor, palming Parr's weighted pass into an empty net for a dream start. Jonathan Parr added a trademark 45' a minute later to extend the lead after Damian Magee's goal-bound effort was well blocked. Liatroim needed to settle as they were at risk of being over-run in a frantic start, and they did find their rhythm with three unanswered points reducing the deficit to the minimum by the 10th minute; Kieran Doyle's excellent individual effort splitting frees from Aidan O'Prey and Micheal McCartan.
The main threat was being carried, however, by Rostrevor's pace in the final third and the ability of Conor Fegan and Brian Keenan to break wide to claim possession was creating difficulty for the frequently stretched Fontenoy defence. Damian Magee converted from the placed ball on 13 minutes to help the Reds reclaim the initiative before they snatched a killer second goal. Joseph Fegan swivelled well to force Morgan into a smart save, with the razor-sharp Keenan reacting quickest to the loose ball, smashing home from close range. Joseph Fegan added two points, the second of which was expertly converted from the right wing, as Rostrevor opened up a seven-point lead. Aidan O'Prey did respond with a free with ten minutes remaining, but that was as good as it got for the Fontenoys in the opening half as Brian Keenan and John Fegan notched on further scores for the free-flowing hosts before the interval. It had been an extremely impressive start to the campaign for a hungrier Reds side as Liatroim seemed unable to match the quickness of thought and intensity of their hosts.
HALF TIME - ROSTREVOR 2-06 - 0-04 LIATROIM FONTENOYS
If the first half was an exhibition of attacking flair from the Rostrevor men, the remainder of the contest saw their defence step up to the expected Liatroim challenge. The East Down side began the second period with real intent and former county player Aidan O'Prey began to see a lot of possession as the midfield battle began to favour the Fontenoys. O'Prey fired over a free on 33 minutes to close the gap to seven points, but the extent to which Liatroim, at times, controlled possession in the third quarter was never converted onto the scoreboard as the excellent Jarlath Farrell and Michael Boyle, amongst others, restricted their scoring chances. Christopher Magee restored the Reds' advantage with a fine point on the run, just before Liatroim saw their biggest chance of getting back into the contest slip through their fingers in the 38th minute. Aidan O'Prey surged his way past the touch-tight Rostrevor defence with his shot being slowed by Jonathan Parr's save; the loose ball was turned away by Boyle before O'Prey could get his foot to it and the opportunity was gone.
Stephen O'Higgins' shot over from range for the visitors but they could never consolidate their scores further, and were outscored by Rostrevor in the final quarter. John Fegan was beginning to find more space in possession further up the field and his deadly accuracy punished Liatroim as he plundered three points in ten minutes to push the Reds' lead out to nine points with 8 minutes remaining; Micheal McCartan providing the sole response from the placed ball. Paul Burns pointed for the Fontenoys as the final whistle approached but the final say was always going to belong to Rostrevor, and captain Shaun Parr as he sent over a score in the final minute to cap a positive performance from the Reds. It has been said that home games are vital in the new league format and there is no sign of any easy points being won at Pettit Park this season. Indeed, there will be bigger challenges ahead for the hosts, but the extent to which Rostrevor attacked and then defended, on different occasions, will provide them with supreme optimism going forward into the new season. Liatroim will need to improve and, again, they will await the return of Liam Doyle and the impressive PP McCartan to bolster their attack, but points need to come early for them, starting with Longstone at home next Friday. Meanwhile, Rostrevor make the short journey to Hilltown looking to follow up on this fine start against a Clonduff side smarting from their opening defeat in Warrenpoint.
ROSTREVOR TEAM; Jonathan Parr (0-1 45'), Turlach Murphy, Michael Boyle, Jarlath Farrell, Sean Magee, Christopher Magee (0-1), Gairiad Clarke, Shaun Parr (0-1), Tomas Mulholland, Declan Magee, John Fegan (0-4 2f), Damian Magee (0-1 f), Brian Keenan (1-1), Joseph Fegan (1-2), Conor Fegan. Subs used; Colm Murney, Colm Clerkin and Conor Doyle.
ROSTREVOR TEAM TAKEN BEFORE THEIR OPENING GAME Vs LIATROIM
ROSTREVOR SENIOR PREVIEW 2013
By Kieran McNally
Gerard Colgan enters his third year as Rostrevor manager back in the first division after achieving an immediate return to the top table as division two champions. An excellent second-half to the season saw the Reds pick up maximum points in their final nine league games, with victories over Warrenpoint, Loughinisland and An Riocht proving the main catalysts for the success. Perhaps at times, Rostrevor felt hard done by to be sitting in the second division after a late-season collapse in 2011’s campaign saw the side slip out of the top tier, and to an extent, there was a sense that the team were on a different level than some sides in the division. However, the emergence of young talents into the starting line-up, in particular Conor Fegan, has revealed the true merits in participating at that level, if only for a season. It is without question that Rostrevor’s main ambition this season should be higher than merely surviving back in the top flight; there really should be one eye, at least, on attempting to be competitive at the top end of the table.
Rostrevor begin their division one campaign with a home game against Liatroim Fontenoys on Friday 12th April in a vital contest between the two front-runners in last year’s second tier. Indeed, last season began with a comfortable, if narrow, away success against the East Down men and a similar result in this year’s opener will be very welcome as that first victory cannot come soon enough in an extremely competitive division. In many ways, it will be those fixtures against the promoted sides that will prove important in creating the foundations on which to build a successful campaign. It is with no disrespect to any of those clubs, but Rostrevor’s long-term survival and health in the first division will be aided should they pick up as many points as possible against the five teams, other than the Reds, that have reached the top tier this season.
The change in the league format has provided Rostrevor with the small victory of having eight of their fifteen fixtures at Pettit Park, including home games against Burren, Bryansford and Warrenpoint. However, tough away assignments against both the Down championship finalists of 2012 (Kilcoo and Mayobridge) and lengthy trips to Loughinisland and Downpatrick have added an extra impetus to pick up home wins. Last season, the Reds’ home support were amongst the most gifted in the county with every game, discounting a late draw with next week’s visitors, ending in victory. Indeed, the Rostrevor record at Pettit Park has been excellent over the last couple of seasons, with Kilcoo, Clonduff, Saval and Annaclone (albeit over a weakened Reds side) being the only teams to leave the village with maximum points over the past two years.
The new championship lay-out will provide a fresh challenge for every club this season, and Rostrevor’s progression through that competition in the previous two seasons under Colgan has been very promising and has provided some excellent performances and results. The main question was to be the development of the groups and with the Reds set to be in “Pot 3” of 4, based on league position last season, this year’s competition will be an interesting one. There will be a sense of optimism with semi-final and quarter-final appearances in 2011 and 2012, proving the ability of the team to get amongst the ‘favourites’ in the premier competition in Down football. Certainly an appearance in the quarter-finals at the end of the season would grant contentment, but as always, the main aim is to do as well in every competition as is possible, so there might be an assault on the Frank O’Hare cup in the summer, with a bit of luck somewhere down the line. You just never know with Rostrevor.
Like many sides throughout Ireland, Rostrevor will have to cope with the absence of key players through emigration, amongst other things, but we can be thankful for the presence of a number of dedicated and very talented players amongst our ranks. The maintenance of a miserly rear-guard will be a key aspect of the Reds’ season, one would imagine and the performance of our back-six over the past number of seasons has seen many sides struggle for high finishes against our seniors. The consistency of Jarlath Farrell in the back corner has thwarted many sharpshooters over the years, and a lot will depend on that happening again this season. Compound this with the tenacity of players such as the emerging Christopher Magee and Aidan Cousins, and Rostrevor have a back-line as impressive as any within the county.
Having said that, the winning of games will most frequently depend on our own scoring column and our attacking options remain strong for the coming campaign. Shaun Parr and Conor Magee, if available for the entirety of the campaign, can provide a fantastic platform for any Reds team and their efforts in the middle third will be important throughout the season. Up front, the Fegan brothers and talisman Adrian Mackin remain Rostrevor’s main scoring threats, but Damian Magee’s left-foot and skipper Brian Cole can also fire the Reds to vital wins if given the chance in the final third.
Detailed reports on all Rostrevor’s senior football games this season will be available on the website within hours of their completion. There will also be an opportunity to view photos from each fixture on our site. The Reds will also be featured in the local newspapers, particularly the Newry Reporter and Newry Democrat, throughout the season so there are plenty of chances to keep up to speed with the progression of the season, as it happens. Of course, it is vital that the supporters get behind the team throughout the year and with some of the best fans in the county, here’s hoping that 2013 is one to remember for the Super Reds.
League fixtures (subject to change as the season progresses)
Liatroim Fontenoys (H)
An Riocht (A)
Ballyholland Harps (A)
SENIOR FOOTBALL 2012
View the match reports for Senior, Seconds and Thirds games in PDF format by clicking here.