21 SEP 2020
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Super start for Killeavy

16 September 2020

Killeavy got their season off to a flying start with a 2-0 home win over Newry Celtic in blustery conditions on Saturday.

A goal in each half was enough for Paddy McCann’s men, who also had a penalty miss and had a man sent off in the second period.

The wind favoured the visitors in the first half but it made little difference, and in fact seemed to have the opposite effect than a seeming advantage. 

“I’ve been playing here for 40 odd years and the wind is never a help,” said McCann. 

“Players want to push forward quicker and the ball ends up going out over the back line. Against the wind you have to play football and that’s what happened today.

“For 15 or 20 minutes in the second half, we were all over the place. I think we should have been two or three goals up in the first half and that would have made the second half easier, but it was a good result. We thought we were going to struggle with players still out for GAA but we did well today. 

“It’s always nice to get a win in your first game, so you’re not chasing teams. Especially as we didn’t have a game last week and if we had lost we would have been further behind some teams like Camlough Rovers,” added the happy manager.

On paper Killeavy were up against it on Saturday, with Newry Celtic coming up the hill to south Armagh on the back of a 4-1 victory over Ballybot in their league opener the previous week.   

Killeavy took charge of the game from the start, helped in part by keeper Mark Stanfield’s long kick-outs.

The first goal chance came from one such kickout in the tenth minute when he booted the ball up to Barry Magee in the right-hand corner, who played in to Raymie Teggart. He shot straight to Celtic netminder Laurence McAlinden on that occasion, but the warning signs were there.

Magee, who was a real thorn in the side for the Hoops, took a couple of corners after that but both were dealt with by the Celtic back line, the second nodded clear by Gavin Moan.

Paul O’Rourke forgot where he was for a minute on 23 minutes when he caught a ball that was on its way out. He claimed half-heartedly that he knew a Killeavy player was down injured, but referee Ciaran Cole had no option but to book him with a wry shrug.

Two minutes later, Killeavy broke the deadlock with a super finish from Guilherme Borges. He played the ball into the box from the right for Paddy Gregory whose shot was palmed back into play by McAlinden. It flew directly back towards Borges. Moan slid in for the tackle, but the ball came off his shin and onto Borges’ foot. There may have been a bit of luck involved but the finish was as sweet as you like, as he curled a bullet into the bottom right hand corner of the net, to make it 1-0.

The Celts came close to levelling on the half-hour mark when the lightning quick Caolan Gray got on a ball at the edge of the Killeavy box requiring some good defending by Jason Long, Magee and Karl O’Hare.

Colm Fegan had a pop as the half drew to a close but his effort from 20 yards flew over the bar and right before the half-time whistle, after more attacking play from Killeavy, another breakaway ball found Stevie Wylie. He passed to Fegan but there was just too much on the ball and Stanfield gathered comfortably.

As McCann explained, the wind advantage had the opposite effect, with Newry Celtic playing into it in the second half yet getting off to the brighter start. 

They had a couple of corners that came to nothing and on 55 minutes Stephen Daly nodded over the bar. 

Gray had a shot palmed out by Stanfield to Wylie who played it back in. O’Hare put the ball out for a corner but Fegan’s delivery came to nothing. 

Killeavy absorbed that spell of pressure and survived it, only to pick up an unlikely second goal. Magee delivered a long ball into the box from midfield just after the hour mark. The Newry Celtic players thought David Reel was offside, but Cole thought otherwise and while some waited for a whistle, Reel had the presence of mind to lob over the advancing keeper and finish to the net.

With that Killeavy looked in good shape. They won a penalty after Reel was pulled down by McAlinden with 10 minutes left on the clock. The same player dusted himself off and stepped up to the spot. His execution was poor however and he missed the target. 

Killeavy were reduced to 10 men moments later when Magee was sent off with a second yellow, but time was on their side with the Hoops needing two goals to get anything from the game. They came close a few times late on as they threw the kitchen sink at Killeavy, but Stanfield pulled off a few saves and the back line held firm, giving Killeavy a well-deserved three points in their first game of the season.

“We have a tough game against Camlough Rovers next week,” said McCann. “They have a strong side this season. Ciaran Duffy – who actually thought they were playing in Division 1 this season – Kyle Cartmill and Niall Lennon went to them from here. They also have some of the Bessbrook players who didn’t want to travel for Mid-Ulster. They have two wins from two and will definitely be a team to watch out for this season. I think the league is going to be very tight.”

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