Bryansford 2-11 Rostrevor 1-06
Bryansford Seniors were utterly disappointed with their performance in the Senior Championship Quarter Final, just five days earlier, when they capitulated to neighbours Kilcoo. If only they had shown the same resolve and belief of the Thirds, who had been underdogs in every round of the reserve Championship.
Against Rostrevor, few gave the Ford a chance but once again they were forced to eat their words. From the first seconds of the game everyone realised that Bryansford were not just in Newry to make up the numbers. From the throw-in captain Decky Allister took command and was fouled. A quick free to Gareth Toner, whose run ended with a flip to Fergal Maguire and the white flag was raised with only twenty seconds played.
Rostrevor seemed shocked by this onslaught and soon fell three points behind as Shane King and Paddy Mulholland found their range. In fact, it would take, Rostrevor, eight minutes, off battering at the Ford defence, before they were to register their first shot at the Ford goal, but there was nothing to trouble keeper Paddy Baker.
Bryansford were matching the physical challenge put up to them. Corner back, Ciaran Fitzpatrick appeared to have been given a free role and slotted in behind centre-half back Gareth Toner and gave a display of defending that was to keep Rostrevor scoreless until the quarter hour. Fitzpatrick proved to be quite an obstruction and allowed his co-defenders to clean up amid the debris.
The game ebbed and flowed until two points within a minute by Rostrevor’s Paul Mc Grath slowed the Ford machine. However a tweek by managers Sean Mooney and Sean James Brannigan, giving Conor Devlin a roving role, restored the equilibrium. As the interval edged closer, two King free’s separated by a Damian Smith point left the score at the break 0.05 to 0.03 in favour of the East Down lads.
King was called upon again shortly after the restart and set three between the sides. However the introduction of Martin Sherry proved an instant success. Up until this point the Ford had been moving the ball as rapidly as possible to their forwards. But! A lazy pass to Gareth Toner saw the Ford half back disposed with a hefty shoulder at midfield by Gary Keenan.
The ball was poked on to an unmarked Sherry and despite Baker’s effort the low drive found the back of the net and the game was all square. It took the Ford several minutes to recover during which time Sherry, who had a great influence on his team, squandered a couple of chances to put Rostrevor ahead.
At the other end Maguire gave keeper Raymond Mc Donald a bit of exercise but it took a solo run by Allister to set his side on the road again with a cracking point. James Mac Ferran quickly added another seconds before Conor Devlin drilled to the corner of the net following some great work by Allister and Mulholland.
Mc Grath and Sith pulled two points back before Mc Grath was awarded a point by the referee which had originally been signalled wide by the umpire. The Ford were incensed and replied immediately through King. The game raced towards its conclusion but Rostrevor should have levelled the game in the fifty-seventh minute.
Brendan Magee found himself with Sheery bearing in on Baker. A deft handpass and the game would have been level but his point blank shot was brilliantly blocked out for a forty-five by Baker. The defence who had been caught napping applauded the keeper, acknowledging that he had spared their blushes. This shock stimulated the Ford and from the kickout the ball was delivered forward and Mulholland split the uprights.
Back down the field came the ball and it was corner forward Devlin who intercepted thirty metres form his own goal. Out to Rawlinson on the wing and he found Mc Ferran. A missed challenge and Mc Ferran sprinted along the touchline. A series of passes involving Toner and Allister and Devlin popped up from nowhere to blaze to the past Mc Donald. The Ford claimed the kickout and the title as Maguire tapped over with the final action of the game.
Take nothing away from Rostrevor they battled to the bitter end having lost Gary Keenan to a second yellow with twenty minutes of the match remaining. But this was Bryansford side that had total belief in themselves and ran out deserved winners.