Darragh Cross were much the better side, as Rostrevor fell to a third defeat in four games at St. Mochai’s on Friday night.
The Cross moved to the top of the table; albeit with a number of games elsewhere to be played, with an excellent display of counter-attacking football that proved so effective with the accurate Lee Morrison in flying form at the top end of the park. Perhaps most alarming for the Reds, is the fact that the reverse fixture was so one-sided in Rostrevor’s favour in April and the departures from the squad only add to a considerable issue in any potential promotion challenge.
Situated in one of the deepest nooks in far- East Down, Darragh Cross has proved to be a difficult venue to find league points for a number of clubs in recent years and with a squad consisting of ex Down panellist Marcus Miskelly and Queens’ University player Michael Monan, amongst a range of other talented footballers, the Cross have established themselves as a tough nut to crack; if inconsistent at times.
Rostrevor started promisingly with Gerard Marks denying Jordan Fegan before Jonathan Parr eventually opened the scoring with a long range kick in the 7th minute. However, they struggled for much of the game in breaking down a resolute defence set up by the hosts and Darragh Cross fired over the next three points to take a 0-3 to 0-1 lead by the 13th minute with Shane Murray and Lee Morrison among the scorers.
Sean Cooper beat the blanket with a very good strike from the left wing for the Reds in the 18th minute, but the rest of the scoring in the opening half belonged to Darragh Cross. Shane Murray tucked between the posts after a quick free with a rangy point from Anton McGrattan extending the Cross’ advantage entering the closing stages of the half.
A brace of points from Lee Morrison; playing off some talented work from Marcus Miskelly, opened up an 0-7 to 0-2 lead approaching the interval, as Darragh began to look comfortable in the game. With Rostrevor struggling for chances in open-play, a big effort was needed in the second half to gain anything from the contest and it never really looked like materialising.
HALF TIME – DARRAGH CROSS 0-07 – 0-02 ROSTREVOR
Indeed, it could have been worse for Rostrevor with Morrison slipping an effort wide of the post under pressure from the onrushing Jonathan Parr in the initial exchanges at the start of the second period.
Anton McGrattan did extend the Darragh lead moments later though, with an excellent point. Patrick Branney’s 35th minute black card in defence seemed to give Rostrevor some impetus; however, as they reeled off three unanswered scores of their own to bring themselves to within a goal by the end of the third quarter. Points from play were not extremely forthcoming though, and it took a pair of frees from John Fegan before Micheal Mackin superbly stuck over the Reds’ second from play on the night to leave the scores at 0-8 to 0-5.
Lee Morrison and Jordan Fegan traded points, as Darragh Cross stood up to the challenge and they enjoyed another scoring spree in the final moments of the contest to ease to the victory. Steve Dineen strode forward to place four between the sides again with another brace from the outstanding Morrison putting the Cross out of sight either side of the sixty minutes mark.
The table toppers will now travel to Tullylish in an attempt to keep the pressure on Loughinisland at the summit with Rostrevor aiming to find some respite and a timely win, as they travel to Annaclone.
DARRAGH CROSS 0-12 – 0-06 ROSTREVOR
By Kieran McNally