LATE ANGUISH FOR REDS

Ryan Brady broke to fist an injury time point to send Mayobridge into the second round of the senior championship at the expense of an unlucky Rostrevor side at Pairc Esler on Friday evening.

The Reds provided their most impressive performance of the season in a game that they probably should have won, but for a unfortunate late error at the back and some near misses in attack. The Bridge were made to work extremely hard for their victory with the absences of Benny Coulter, Conor Garvey and Conleth O’Hare weighing heavily on their shoulders.

Having said that, Rostrevor continue to be without Conor Doyle, Jordan Fegan and Caolan Mooney; as well as their influential Shaun Parr, so it is easy to grasp the nature of the Reds gallant display in which a number of players firmly stood up to the mark.

The introduction of Ardghal McMahon; among other previous minor stars, was a certain bright spark; as Shane Mulholland’s trust in youth provides much optimism. The Reds started on the front foot through the qualities of some of their more senior players and reeled off three scores inside four minutes. Micheal Mackin sent over a left-footed effort with a towering John Fegan free and a fine point from Conor Mackin giving Rostrevor the early advantage. Mayobridge were not emerging from their half of the pitch with any great consistency in the initial exchanges; and indeed for much of the game, but when they did it was with supreme accuracy.

Five points without reply between the 6th and 16th minutes, had the Bridge up and running. Rory Hughes brought them onto the scoreboard with a rapid duo of points from Shane O’Hare and Caolan Gallagher bringing the sides level. A brace from Cathal Magee opened up a 0-5 to 0-3 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

Rostrevor were creating scoring chances and; at times, were guilty of overplaying or taking the wrong option and that allowed for Mayobridge to overturn the early lead. However, the Reds would drag themselves back to parity on 18 minutes with scores from Conor Mackin and Anthony Donnan, though the latter was soon to be taken off with a painful injury. Ryan Brady was the eventual match-winner for the Bridge, and his late point was also complimented with his side’s only goal in the 22nd minute; a goal which seemed to have the favourites on their way. Brady received possession from the breaking ball to drive the ball past Jonathan Parr for a three-point lead.

Declan Magee’s superb point helped Rostrevor get back in the frame, but Kevin O’Rourke and Caolan Gallagher both found their range to open up a four-point lead for the Sky Blues, as the game moved towards half-time. To their credit though, Rostrevor rallied and two points deep into stoppage time provided a boost at the interval; Damian Magee sending over a free with the excellent Piaras Kane causing all sorts of problems and grabbing a point himself, as two separated the sides at the break.

HALF TIME – MAYOBRIDGE 1-07 – 0-08 ROSTREVOR

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Rostrevor may look back on this game with some regret, as it was most certainly there for the taking in the second half and they were much the better side in the closing half hour. Both sides had similar efforts in front of the posts, but in play, the Reds had all the major moves. Mayobridge were kept in the changing rooms for longer at the interval and it seemed as though Frank Dawson’s team-talk had sparked a Bridge surge with points from O’Rourke and Magee sending them into a 1-9 to 0-8 lead by the 37th minute.

It is fair to say that the second half was punctuated by slips and spills from both sides, but Rostrevor’s ability to control possession was better than their opponents; mostly due to some workmanlike defending and fine transitional play from Christopher Magee, Ardghal McMahon and Jonathan Connolly with the support of many others. Damian Magee fired over two points from close-range frees with Ryan Brady providing a response, as the game moved into its final ten minutes with Mayobridge in front; 1-10 to 0-10.

A few forays into Bridge territory had resulted in close encounters in front of the posts and CJ Barr was showing his quality in goal for Mayobridge; however, he was defenseless in the 53rd minute when McMahon was pulled back by the retreating Micheal Lively for a Rostrevor penalty. Jonathan Parr’s finish was low to the left corner and it appeared that an upset was most certainly on the cards.

However, the Reds were not able to convert their superior possession and movement into a winner and whilst they controlled the ball for long spells; it was given away at the death and Ryan Brady was on hand to snatch victory for Mayobridge in the second minute of stoppage time and secure progress into the second round. Rostrevor must regroup for the qualifiers, but they must take confidence and optimism from this display moving forward.

MAYOBRIDGE 1-11 – 1-10 ROSTREVOR

 By Kieran McNally
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