St. Joseph’s came up short against near neighbours Scoil Muire agus Pádraig in Bellaghy on Monday. For Joes it was a big improvement on their first outing where they were defeated by Manorhamilton but there is still work to do and a victory over Foxford in their next game must be the target now.
The game started with Swinford in the ascendancy with a couple of early efforts dealt with by the home defence especially Evan Gavaghan who shown great application throughout. Swinford would be punished for not making their early pressure count on the scoreboard. Midway through the first half Charlestown broke down the field with pace and Tommy Maughan used his strength to hold up the ball before finding Shanley Keane whose cross was met by James Gallagher on the half volley from a good 25 metres out and the Leeds United fan was so pleased that the Swinford ‘keeper could only get a hand to it but could not prevent it from crossing the goal line, Advantage to the home team!
Further chances came by way of Mark Lowther, another First-Year student enjoying his debut and it was his pass to Tom Horan that saw the Kilmovee man make it 2-0 with a good finish from the edge of the box. Horan almost bagged his second from 30 metres a minute later only for the Swinford custodian to parry it for a corner. Good work from Keane again in the build-up. While the away side increased the pressure before the break, they were not going to find it easy with Owen Flannery starring in defence alongside the tireless Conor Gavaghan, the skilful Daniel Harrington and the aerial threat of Michael Marren distorting many moves. The Swinford lads didn’t panic however and got one back on 30 minutes, a neat finish from a good low cross. James Conway, in the Charlestown goal pulled off a wonderful triple save with half time looming but a breakaway goal on the whistle had the teams level at the end of the first half.
Swinford upped the tempo in the second half and St.Joes had to be at their best to hang in there for as long as possible and so they did thanks to the spectacular defensive role played by Conor Gavaghan who was everywhere, he wore his heart on his sleeve and for 22 second half minutes the home side held out before fatigue took hold. Gary Duffy put in a wonderful shift also from the bench when it was all shoulders to the wheel. Two goals in quick succession killed the game from a home side perspective. The Swinford lads played nice neat football and deserved their advantage. Dennis Stevens and Gavin Hunt, two more First Year lads did their utmost but to no avail on this occasion. Kyle McLoughlin joined the defence and gave his usual disciplined performance.
Swinford put the icing on the cake with a last-minute effort. No mistaking they deserved their win while the home side can take solace in a much-improved performance from their first outing of the season. It was great to see a local derby played in such good nature with both teams letting their skills come to the fore. Qualification is still possible for both teams but Swinford have the upper hand now.
Thanks to Aidan Nevin who refereed the game and to Charlestown Athletic for providing their pitch for the occasion.