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Under 21's Through to Quarter Final

posted 7 Nov 2011, 14:58 by Unknown user   [ updated 10 Nov 2011, 15:51 ]
Clann Eireann 1-10 Sarsfields 3-08

The ground conditions were pretty heavy despite the fact that the weather conditions for this championship decider were very good. Given the heavy ground Clann Eireann having the larger squad looked like having the advantage when fresh legs would be required. The first chance of the match fell to Paul McGeown and going for goal, he saw his shot skim wide of the post. Michael Stevenson knocked over the first Highmoss point and this was almost immediately cancelled out by a Clann Eireann free. Within a moment a second free for the home side edged them into the lead and it was apparent that such indiscretions would be punished by Barry Seeley. A great catch at midfield by Eimeid Murray and a quick pass to Colin Stevenson provided Paul McGeown with his second goal chance that unfortunately hit the side netting on the wrong side of the post. Michael Stevenson had a free just go wide before these misses were punished by a well taken Clann Eireann goal. The Highmoss defence had been easily bypassed giving Conan Murray no chance. Thomas McAlinden replied with a decent left footed point, but Sarsfields continued to miss chances. The Lurgan men kept up the pressure. Two efforts went out for 45’s and fortunately for Sarsfields both 45’s missed the target. Paul McGeown narrowed the gap to two points with a free before Aaron McGaughey came up from the half back line to force a great save from the Clann Eireann keeper having been set up by Colin Stevenson. Colin had a goal chance of his own, but the defender just had done enough to put Colin off the shot and force the 45. Paul McGeown added his second point from a free, but two frees saw Clann Eireann restore their three point lead just before half time.

On the restart Clann Eireann hit the Highmoss with three well deserved quick points from play and it certainly looked like the game was up for Sarsfields. The game however turned on a slight touch of the ball. It was Thomas McAlinden who got the touch, sending the ball to the net from a Paul McGeown free that was dropping short. This revitalised Sarsfields, and Michael Stevenson collecting a pass from substitute Darren McShane forced the Clann Eireann keeper into pushing the rasping shot over the bar. A moment later, Michael reduced the deficit to a point. Thomas McAlinden looked to have levelled the match but there was a dispute as to whether the ball had gone out of play along the sideline just before the score. When asked by the referee if the ball had gone out Sarsfields mentor Liam Murray truthfully told the ref that the ball had been out. I suspect that it is one of the rare times that Liam has agreed with the referee’s decision and one of the even rarer times that a referee has listened to Liam’s opinion during a match. The home side added a point to go two up and a Paul McGeown free closed the gap. Seconds later Thomas McAlinden had Sarsfields back in front with his second opportunist goal getting the vital touch on a Colin Stevenson effort that was dropping short. Entering the final ten minutes Sarsfields looked a different team. The midfield was picking up more possession and the defence was keeping a tighter rein on their men. Players like Ruairi McKernan and Stefan Green were getting a good return for their hard work. Clann Eireann pulled a score back. Colin Stevenson had a goal chance go high and wide with a total mis-kick. Michael Stevenson added a point that was cancelled out by the home side. However a third Sarsfields goal eased the pressure and saw Sarsfields go through. It looked like Colin Stevenson had sealed the victory with the goal from distance that had just dropped in. It transpired however that it was none other than Thomas McAlinden who had got the final touch for his third goal. Clann Eireann pushed for a goal but the Highmoss defence held out and both Mark McConville and Aaron McGaughey got in some vital interceptions in an exciting finish. It had been a lacklustre performance early on, however our experienced players had shown how they can perform and the less experienced players really lifted their games when it was needed.