IN-FORM HOOPS HOLD THEIR NERVE

Late points from Michael Magee and Conor McGrady helped RGU Downpatrick to a hard-earned victory over Rostrevor at Pettit Park on Friday evening.

Conor Deegan’s RGU moved ahead of Rostrevor in the league standings; whilst holding three further games in hand, as the Reds’ campaign now seems disappointingly destined to become lodged in mid-table. The continued absence of a mass of key players has gradually seen Shane Mulholland’s squad eroded; and exposed to an extent, with some ineffectual displays in games in which victory is demanded. Five defeats in six games have taken the proverbial wind from Rostrevor’s sails and one would assume that they are now fighting a losing battle, as far as their escape from division two is concerned.

Again; as has been the issue in recent weeks, Rostrevor’s return from play was desperate and it wasn’t until the final ten minutes that they actually looked like a half-potent attacking force. This was a home game in which they never led and two early points from Downpatrick; the second of which was a fine Gareth Robinson effort, helped the visitors to settle.

John Fegan; formerly an RGU player, angled over two frees to level the scores by the 7th minute, but excellent points from Conor Doherty and Michael Magee restored the Hoops’ advantage. Rostrevor’s Jonathan Parr needed to be on his toes to produce an impressive double save during a spell of Downpatrick pressure, as John Fegan’s third point brought the Reds back to within a point, after a foul on the lively Micheal Mackin.

Despite this, RGU consistently kept Rostrevor at arm’s length with Peter Turley’s power at midfield helping the county player to engineer a point from range in the 26th minute. Rostrevor’s first point from play arrived in the subsequent attack; a minute later, with Anthony Donnan tucking between the posts after good play from Jonathan Connolly on the left side to leave the scores at 0-5 to 0-4 in favour of RGU.

Michael Magee and Jonathan Parr traded points in first-half stoppage time, as Downpatrick carried a one-point lead into the interval and whilst Rostrevor had quality to call upon from the bench and showed endeavour, they never got themselves back onto terms.

HALF TIME – ROSTREVOR 0-05 – 0-06 RGU DOWNPATRICK

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Jonathan Bell tapped over from the centre, as Downpatrick set about claiming their sixth successive victory with proactive attacking play upon the restart. Donnan’s free kept Rostrevor in touch, but all the running from play was coming from the visitors and scores from Magee and McGrady put RGU into a three-point lead by the 39th minute.

Disappointingly from Rostrevor, the remainder of second half was one of largely stalemate and neither side could find any consistent level of scoring thereafter; apart from the closing minutes. Both sides were guilty of wides, as the county town side retained their 0-9 to 0-6 lead until the 51st minute with the Reds labouring to respond.

Damian Magee eventually raised a white flag with a nice point of the outside of his left boot, as Rostrevor attempted to stage a late charge. The proximity of the sides deemed that this was a distinct possibility, as Downpatrick’s overall performance was not at the level to suggest that the lead was unassailable by any means.

Sean Cooper worked extremely hard to fashion a 54th minute score for the Reds and suddenly there was only one between the sides once more; 0-9 to 0-8. Taylor Lowden’s energetic contribution from the bench  was notable and he settled Downpatrick nerves with five minutes remaining, but Rostrevor’s big chance to snatch some initiative in the contest came and went; a minute later.

An incisive attack up the left wing saw possession rest with Declan Magee, as he approached on Kevin Gracey; however, his effort grazed the crossbar and instead of blasting into a late lead, Rostrevor were left to rue their overall performance as Michael Magee’s point and a free from Conor McGrady ruled out any Red revival and a fourth consecutive loss beckoned for the Reds.

Loughinisland still appear to be the front runners for the title in the second division with their games in hand and they are Rostrevor’s next trip, as they try to stop the rot. Downpatrick will hope to avenge their late defeat to Liatroim; and continue their rise, when they host the Fontenoys on the same night.

ROSTREVOR 0-09 – 0-12 RGU DOWNPATRICK

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By Kieran McNally

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