Ballynagross in the groove

Ballynagross in the groove

6 February 2019

BALLYNAGROSS increased their lead at the top of the table to nine points when they condemned Killough to the also rans category at The Links, Strangford on Saturday.

Killough, who have been forced go play their home games anywhere they can as the Mill Field undergoes further repairs, could easily have collected three points with a resolute second half display, but Ballynagross closed up shop after taking 3-2 lead at the end of the first half.

Both sides settled quickly with the excellent playing surface encouraging players to keep the ball on the floor. It was Ballynagross, who didn’t seem to miss the suspended Matthew Rooney and Declan Dowie too much, that drew first blood in the fifth minute.

The dashing Eoin Rooney, who was making his first team debut following a recent move from Downpatrick FC, took full advantage of a failed offside call from Killough, sped past Stevie Laverty and beat new ‘keeper Peter Kelly with a clinical finish.

Killough retaliated immediately with Michael Burns, Gareth George and Tony McIhone prodding patiently from the middle of the park and when an opening came, Declan Looney, a team-mate of Eoin Rooney at Downpatrick not that long ago, put the burners on and rifled a sweet equaliser past Conor McCullough, a former Killough ‘keeper, from just inside the box.

As expected from a derby clash, no quarter was asked or given and it took a few yellow cards to bring the combatants under control before Daniel Taggart popped up in the box to restore the visitors’ lead with a poacher’s finish.

Killough tried to get back on level terms with Freddie O’Connor raiding down the flank and Ross Armstrong working overtime in a bid to create something of note. However, a Ballynagross back four of Conor Marron, John Shields, Aaron Beattie and Gary Carberry were in dominant form and they steadfastly refused to give way.

Karl Gelston’s side was more than happy to hit Killough on the break and midway through the first half, assassin Donal McCavera gave them a 3-1 lead as Killough were caught chasing the game.

Killough had to throw caution to the wind and pulled a goal back just before the break when the dangerous McIlhone 

exploded into life when he drilled in a beauty to give his side every chance of getting a result.

The second half, although as equally as combative, never reached the dizzy heights of the first 45 minutes with two well-matched sides cancelling each other out in a midfield war of attrition.

Chances were few and far between with the respective defences on top. Killough again did the chasing, but there was just no way past Carberry and Beattie and ‘keeper McCullough did all that was asked of him.

The longer the game went on, the deeper Ballynagross defended, but in the final analysis, Killough just didn’t have the necessary firepower to break them down.

Killough: Peter Kelly, Colm Kearney, Stevie Laverty, Jason Clarke, Kevin Groves, Tony McIlhone, Michael Burns, Freddie O’Connor, Declan Looney, Ross Armstrong, Gareth George. Subs: Colm Stranney, Jack McLaughlin, Ryan McIlhone.

Ballynagross: Conor McCullough, Conor Marron, Gary Carberry, Aaron Beattie, John Shields, Deaglan Arnold, Mark Magill, Eoin Rooney, Daniel Taggart, Rory McDonnell, Donal McCavera. Subs: Scott Grieves, Cormac Byrne, Kieran Teggart.     

Killough 2

Ballynagross 3