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Strong Performance Despite Depleted Squad

posted 22 Oct 2012, 09:56 by Unknown user
Ballymacnab 3-10 Sarsfields 1-18
Sarsfields travelled to this match possibly more in hope than expectation, knowing a win would ensure their place in the shield final at the expense of their opponents. Five of the starting line-up from the previous match were unavailable and several other players were out through injury.
Sarsfields began well with Richie Stevenson and Eamon McGeown sending over quick points. Eamon’s point had ended a nice move with a ball in from Declan Breen and a good pass from his brother Paul. Ballymacnab hit an early point and were soon in front thanks to a catastrophic series of defensive errors setting them up for a goal against the run of play. This boosted the home side and they quickly chalked up another three points against a Michael Stevenson point. Sarsfields though were creating goal chances. Michael’s point had been a goal chance and a good run by Stefan Green set Eamon McGeown up, but his driving shot came off the post. Stefan followed up but his shot that looked like he had lobbed the keeper just missed the target. A further handy chance was punished by a very well taken goal for the home side that left Darran McAvoy with no chance. Sarsfields responded and Richie Stevenson collected a ball in behind the home defence, put in a super shot low and hard only to see it kept out by a superb save. Sarsfields were first to react and the Highmoss forward was fouled in the box. Paul McGeown stepped up and although the penalty hadn’t great power it was directed well clear of the keeper. Richie Stevenson added a point direct from the kick out, but Sarsfields were punished when they failed to deal with a side-line ball into the danger area. A first attempt at goal was well blocked but the ball hit the net at the second attempt. Sarsfields were still creating chances and a few attacks on goal just didn’t come off. To be fair Sarsfields were winning ball in the middle of the park and team captain Kieran McAlinden was leading by example at midfield. Richie Stevenson added a couple of frees, Michael Stevenson added a point after playing a ‘45’ short and collecting the pass and he then sent over a free from distance and another score from play.
Despite conceding three goals Sarsfields somehow were only four points down at half time and the feeling was that they could pull off a result, especially with the wind in their favour in the second half. On the restart Sarsfields had the best of the play winning the majority of possession at midfield. The key to this was the introduction of Paul Magee who added strength and experience and he was able to field or knock down ball to Highmoss players. Three points in three minutes from Paul McGeown, Richie Stevenson and Eamon McGeown made it a one point game. The home side’s few attacks were denied and a Richie Stevenson free levelled matters. Perhaps the turning point was a superb save from Darran McAvoy in a one on one contest with a Ballymacnab forward who surely was the favourite to hit the net. Moments later a Niall McAlinden point had the Highmoss in the lead. Two Richie Stevenson frees and two super long range frees from Michael Stevenson had Sarsfields in control.
The home side pulled a point back, but the now very confident Michael Stevenson restored the four point lead with time running out for Ballymacnab. This score was out on the right, over fifty meters out and had to be sent wide allowing the wind to pull the ball back in and it was perfectly judged. Ballymacnab responded but again Michael Stevenson hit over the insurance point. Late in the game the home side pulled back two points the final score coming from a thirteen meter free. It was a pile driver going for goal but the defence had lined the net to avoid any goalmouth calamity in injury time. A shield final date with Dromintee awaits Sarsfields and based on this performance it is well deserved.