ACFL Division 2
Rasharkin 1-8 Gort na Mona 2-7
By Brendan McTaggart
Two referees, one dubious penalty, one really dubious goal, one red card and two points to the visitors. You could be forgiven for wondering what on earth was happening at St Mary’s Rasharkin on Wednesday evening but after an entertaining hour of football, Gort na Mona took the points on offer.
With the match scheduled for an 8:15pm throw in there was still no referee at the Dreen Road venue so Thomas McGilligan stepped in to fill the void having officiated the prior reserve fixture between the two sides with both managers keen to get the game started with the dimming light a major factor. Eamon Hamill finally arrived after 10 minutes and by that stage the home side were two points ahead on the score board having come out of the blocks quickest. Ryan Lynch and Enda McFerran proving a handful on the inside forward line for the hosts with Shane Hasson lively on the ’40. The visitors always looked threatening going forward and worked possession well on numerous occasions in tight spaces but lacked composure in front of the target in the opening quarter.
Dermott McVeigh was carrying a huge threat for the Gorts and it was he who created the first goal for the west Belfast men. Collecting a pass wide on the right, McVeigh drilled a high ball to the edge of the Rasharkin six yard box that Christopher Carson punched to the back of Ryan Doherty’s net.
Carson’s major gave the Gorts the lead for the first time in the match and ultimately they wouldn’t relinquish that tag but it also proved to be the beginning of the Gorts purple patch. McVeigh added his second point of the match when referee Hamill awarded the visitors a dubious penalty. Aidan McDonagh was certainly fouled when bearing down on the Rasharkin goal but the discretion looked to have happened outside of the box. Despite the protests of the Rasharkin players and management the penalty stood and Padraig McHugh duly despatched the resulting kick straight down the middle with power for the Gorts second goal inside three minutes.
With the Gorts applying all the pressure, the game threatened to get away from Rasharkin but they responded well with McFerran and Lynch adding points to cut the deficit but the visitors lead at the interval 0-6 to 2-4.
In between all the drama, it was a highly competitive game of football. Both teams were keen to play an attractive brand while tackling hard with Gort na Mona being more clinical when it mattered the most in the first half.
The Gort lead was extended to five points by the time Rasharkin scored their goal and it came under more than just a little suspect circumstances. The Gort na Mona defence looked to have shepherded Lynch out over the side line but referee Hamill waved play on and while the management from both teams argued over the matter, Lynch stole in on the Gort goal. The visitors did well to crowd Lynch but Rasharkin recycled possession with the ball falling to Shane Hasson and ‘Deadly Doug’ applied the finish to the bottom corner of Thomas McCaffrey’s net. Gort na Mona were livid and despite their protestations, the goal stood and Rasharkin were back within touching distance.
Rasharkin applied all the pressure in the closing stages but the Gort na Mona defence were superb with Christopher Devlin and David McErlean in top form. Indeed were it not for some wayward shooting, the Gorts could have extended their lead. Both sides made changes in the closing stages to try and swing the game their way and with tensions heightened the game threatened to boil over. Enda McFerran was given a straight red card in injury time for what referee Hamill deemed as a punch on a Gort na Mona player, all but ending the Rasharkin challenge and ensuring the Gorts took the two points on offer back up the M2.
Ryan Doherty; Donagh Quigg; Conor Hasson; Dominic McFerran; Declan McKay; Thomas Doherty; James Scally; Brendan Etherson; Thomas McMullan; Shane Hasson (1-00); Cathal Mooney; Andrew Hasson (0-1); Enda McFerran (0-1); Jonathan McAleese; Ryan Lynch (0-6, 3 frees)
Subs: Ferghal Kennedy for J McAleese (40 mins); Gerard O’Hagan for B Etherson (53 mins); Pearce Kelly for A Hasson (53 mins)
Gort na Mona:
Thomas McCaffrey; Conor Connelly; Christopher Devlin; Brendan Burns; Padraig Mulvenna (0-1); David McErlean; Michael Savage; Caoimhin Magee; Dermott McCabe; Dermot McVeigh; Sean Doyle; Aidan McDonagh; Padraig McHugh; Christopher Carson; Patrick McCaffrey
Subs: Sean Campbell for D McCabe (40 mins); Dessie McClean for S Doyle (45 mins); Niall Mullaney for C Magee (49 mins)
Referee: Thomas McGilligan (Dunloy) and Eamon Hamill (St Teresa’s)