Sunday 20 August 2017 01:13:39 AM

RGU Settle For Draw Against Loughinisland
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RGU  1:09   Loughinisland  1:09

IT was Loughinisland’s Ryan Stranney who made the first effort at goal as the visitors showed some effective passing putting the RGU under early pressure. But the RGU’s Ryan Slavin drew first blood for his side when he left footed for a point from 30 yards out. But the visitors came to win and replied with a point from a free by Liam McGoran. As competitive play settled down Loughinisland Matthew Doran was shown a yellow card for use of the elbow, and Loughinisland then made an excellent swift attack with Doran’s kick being well blocked by RGU midfielder Gerard Collins who was fired up for this match.

Loughinisland showed some promise as they cut through the Downpatrick back lines and Dan Gordon made a strong showing threatening with long range kicks when he found the space to shoot. He took a couple of points and gave Loughinisland that decisive edge. He was gaining possession, running into space and kicking accurately presenting a real threat to the home side.

This was certainly a hotly contested match and the RGU pulled back another vital point with Kevin Gracey’s clinical kicking from a free. The young RGU side were not to be outdone and Isaac McCauley also converted from a free from 30 yards out after being levelled by Loughinisland defender Raymond Nixon.

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The RGU showed a few handling and passing slips which gave Loughinisland possession and their midfielders were picking up the ball and quickly recycling it back up from. On one occasion, William Russell ran through the RGU defenders finding plenty of space and launched a 30 yard kick for a point. This was followed at 30 minutes with Loughinisland’s Conor Riley nailing another point to keep the home side under pressure.

But a gutsy run through the line of Loughinisland blue by Sean Bell saw him take a well deserved point for his effort as he slotted it over the bar. This game  was fast moving in the first half. The RGU’s John Connolly made an important strike when he battled through the middle and took another good point levelling the match as half-time drew near. The RGU were showing they had fire in their bellies, and were up for the challenge. Probably the most significant effort in the first half was Dan Gordon’s point scoring which gave Loughinisland that clear edge. His long-distance kicks were effective  and a real threat to the RGU. The half ended with Ryan Slavin unluckily hitting the post.

Just as in the first half, it was Loughinisland’s Ryan Stranney who was in for a quick point to put the RGU under pressure, but with a  steely mindset, the RGU were  in fighting mode and midfielder Collins made a great run through to win a free. It was the accurate kicking of Kevin Gracey once again that gave the RGU a vital point levelling the score.

The second half was certainly a greater physical challenge for both teams, and Loughinisland forwards Stranney and McGoran were connecting well with their short passing game. It was just a matter of time before Paul Digney broke through the RGU defenders in a run and short passed to Stranney who left footed the ball low past James Deeney into the corner of the RGU net for a goal. With 19 minutes to go Loughinisland had a two point advantage.

A short time later Gordon was then on the attack facing RGU keeper James Deeny who make a tremendous reflex save to keep the ball out of his net.

But what should have been a spanking good game to the last was marred somewhat by a few messy fouls and injuries. Connolly challenged the Loughinisland defence and earned a free but Gracey sent that one  wide. The wind had picked up in the second half and was doing the RGU no favours as they pressed forward.

RGU persistence paid off when Sean Bell made a gritty fight through the Loughinisland defence and passed to Connolly who at short distance slotted the ball into the Loughinisland net giving keeper Chris Turley no chance.

Loughinisland were still fighting for a win after Connolly had levelled the match once again. Then the RGU’s Nathan Curran took a vital point putting his side in the lead. A tension mounted an exchange led to the RGU’s Anthony Doherty receiving a yellow card and Loughinisland’s Mark Valentine being red carded.

Not much separated the teams and as Sean Bell again broke through and passed to the RGU’s Isaac McCauley, a snatched shot led to a miss and could have been that key point that won the RGU the match, but ended up wide. Then it was Loughinisland’s turn to shoot wide as extra time was running out. The Island took back one more point and it was enough for the draw.

The game finished with another stoppage as keeper James Deeny was recovering after a Dan Gordon challenge. Both teams were frustrated and not finding that crucial winning point.

A draw was a fair result, but equally either team could have won this match by a bit more composure at the vital second of a free or run to the goals. This local derby is always an interesting match to watch whatever the outcome.

RGU team: James Deeny, Liam Kearney, Colm McNabb, Michael Fitzpatrick, Andrew Telford, Gerard Collins, Anthony Doherty, Peter Turley, Damian Turley, Sean bell, Isaac McCauley, Kevin Gracey, Ryan Slavin, Cormac Boyle, John Connolly.

Loughinisland team: Chris Turley, Anthony Rogan, Conor O’Toole Raymond Nixon, William Russell, Cormac O’Toole, James Grant, Dan Gordon, John McCarthy, Paul Digney, Matt Doran, Ryan Stranney, Conor Riley, Conor McGoran, Mark Valentine.