Rostrevor scored four of the final five points to edge out Liatroim in an exciting league encounter at Pettit Park on Thursday evening.
The Reds followed up their high-scoring success against St. John’s by tabling another impressive scoreline, they plunged the Fontenoys into possible danger at the bottom end of the table; whilst doing no harm to their own fading aspirations of battling for promotion. Both sides found goals in each half, but it was a greater level of precision in taking points that saw Rostrevor eventually take the spoils at the end of the hour.
The Reds took the lead inside the opening two minutes with Damian Magee striding onto John Fegan’s neat pass to produce a left-footed point; however, Liatroim equalised from their first foray into Rostrevor territory through Gerard McAnulty. Pearse Óg McCrickard’s free pushed the Fontenoys in front by the 4th minute of play, but this time it was the turn of the hosts to level the contest with Conor Magee dropping an effort over the crossbar. The imperious free-taking of McCrickard was in evidence for Liatroim, as they regained the lead in the 9th minute with an excellent effort from the left sideline and things were to get better for the Fontenoys; a minute later.
A superb phase of attacking play ended with Robbie O’Hare expertly slipping the ball past Jonathan Parr for the game’s opening goal and a four-point lead. The joy was short-lived though with the Reds providing an instant response through Piaras Kane, as he rose above Dan Morgan to punch Fegan’s long delivery to the net in the 11th minute. Despite this rapid Reds resonse, Another free from Pearse Óg McCrickard and a well-taken point from Micheal McCartan presented Liatroim with a three-point advantage by the 15th minute of what was turning into a very open and entertaining contest; 1-5 to 1-2.
Anthony Donnan narrowed the gap with a point, but William McCartan quickly restored Liatroim’s position with a curling effort from the left wing. A rare spell of stalemate from play ensued; and ten minutes without a score, with both sides sending efforts wide of the posts, as they continued to attack each other. Perhaps, Rostrevor went closest to making a telling impact at the end of that period with a 27th minute shot from Conor Mackin rebounding off the post before Piaras Kane pounced only to see his effort deflected wide. Anthony Donnan also went close to finding the net, but was denied by a smart save from Dan Morgan.
It was evident that the Reds were finishing the half stronger though, and Jonathan Parr sent over two long-range frees to bring the Reds to within a point by the 30th minute. John Fegan capitalised from a turnover in the middle-third to level the scores during three minutes of stoppage time; and whilst a last-ditch point from Liatroim ensured a one-point lead for the Fontenoys at the break, it was clear that Rostrevor were in the ascendancy when Neil Cousins’ half-time whistle arrived.
HALF TIME – ROSTREVOR 1-06 – 1-07 LIATROIM FONTENOYS
Pearse Óg McCrickard and Declan Magee traded scores by the 34th minute, but the Reds were finally to emphasise their growing superiority in the contest with their second goal in the 37th minute. John Fegan was the scorer; finding the space to race through on Dan Morgan’s goal to drive the ball past the despairing Liatroim goalkeeper for a two-point Rostrevor lead; 2-7 to 1-8.
Brian Keenan extended the lead with a fine score with Donnacha O’Higgin’s responding before Piaras Kane’s point from the right side pushing the Reds back into a seemingly commanding position entering the final quarter. Liatroim were having none of that though, and Robbie O’Hare’s brave running saw him upended in the large rectangle for a Fontenoys penalty in the 49th minute. Gerard McAnulty finished with assurance to level the match, as the game moved into its closing ten minutes at 2-9 to 2-9.
Rostrevor felt slightly aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty of their own in the 53rd minute with Anthony Donnan being dragged down close to the end line, but replays suggest that the initial contact occurred outside the penalty area. Donnan stroked over the resulting free for single-point lead though, as the Reds aimed to secure successive wins for the first time in two months, but McCrickard’s excellent right-wing effort brought the sides level once more. However; as in the first half, Rostrevor finished the stronger of the two and reeled off four unanswered scores to move to the verge of victory.
John Fegan sent over a point via Dan Morgan’s finger tips before a Donnan free, a close range effort from Piaras Kane and a right-footed drive from Declan Magee guided the Reds into a 2-14 to 2-10 lead, by the time Liatroim could respond deep into stoppage time and with it kept their slim chances of making the promotion play-offs alive entering a period of a month without a game. During that time, there will be matches that will give further indication as to the Reds’ opportunities of reviving their season at the top end of the table, but results need to go their way.
Rostrevor’s next league match will be at home to Belfast side, Bredagh on Friday 19th August, with Liatroim hosting St. John’s in a fortnight’s time in an attempt to give themselves a little bit of breathing space in the relegation battle.
ROSTREVOR 2-14 – 2-11 LIATROIM FONTENOYS
By Kieran McNally