Goals decisive as Cross defeat Silverbridge

December 12, 2016

Armagh U21 Final Crossmaglen Rangers 2-10 Silverbridge Harps 0-11

On an excellent evening for football on an immaculate playing surface Crossmaglen Rangers were crowned U-21 champions at the expense of near neighbours Silverbridge Harps. A most enjoyable contest was ultimately decided by the only 2 goals of the game, scored by Rangers in the opening half, which gave them a strong grip on the game, which was never relinquished even though the opposition won the possession stakes, particularly in the second half.

Raiding centre-half-back Aidan Rushe opened the scoring inside the first half minute with a fisted point but two converted Paddy Reel frees gave the Bridge a 2-1 lead 4 minutes into the game. Man of the Match Oisin O’Neill placed his younger brother Rian for the equalizing point but a super solo effort from Jarly Og Burns restored the Bridge lead. The game’s top scorer Oisin O Neill opened his account on 9 minutes with a terrific long range point but Eoghan Burns was on the end of a sweeping 6 man move to edge the Bridge 4-3 in front after 10 minutes.

Rian O’Neill raced clear of the Bridge defense, with his goal bound effort well saved by goalkeeper Cormac McKinley but the loose ball cannoned back off a defender for a goal which put Rangers 1-3 to 0-4 ahead, a lead that would not be relinquished for the remainder of the match. Three Oisin O’Neill points in as many minutes stretched the lead to 5 points before a Ronan Reel free broke a 10 minute scoreless spell for the Bridge. If Oisin was proving the main difference between the teams that was further confirmed as he rammed home a second goal on 21 minutes by taking full advantage of some sloppy defending. Callum Kieran got his name on the score sheet to stretch the lead to 8 points 2-7 to 0-5 but pointed frees from Paddy and Ronan Reel concluded the first half scoring. Just before the short whistle the Bridge has two goal opportunities, with Joe Rock shooting wide of an empty net and Ryan Smylie covering well in behind his goalkeeper who had the ball knocked past him to clear the second bridge goal chance.

With the help of the breeze the Bridge would need a quick start to the second half to help claw back the 2-7 to 0-7 deficit. An injury to Ryan Smylie held up proceedings for 4 minutes and resumed with Ronan Reel converting a free off the ground to open the scoring. Playing with purpose, the Bridge carried the game to Cross but could not convert their possession into scores as they recorded 3 wides in a row. In their first foray forward in the second half Rian O’Neill, with a point restored the 2 goal advantage. Fifteen minutes into the half Oisin O’Neill tore through the middle of the Bridge defence before being hauled down on the edge of the square, leaving Miceal McCabe with an easy free conversion. Joe Rock replied with a Bridge point from play which was immediately cancelled out by a second point from Callum Kieran which was to prove to be the last Rangers score of a match that had 13 minutes in total left to be played.The Bridge kept battling away but could make little in roads against some stout defending with Aodhan Quinn from play and a “45” from Ronan Reel completed a low scoring second half won by the Bridge 4-3. The failure to raise a Green flag, much needed to get back into the game plus the accumulation of 9 second half wides, did not help the Bridge cause. Rangers managed to score 2-7 from play as opposed to 0-4 by the Bridge but overall had the composure and physical power to withstand anything their wasteful opponents threw at them.