Hoops collect first win

Sarsfields 1-09 Shane O’Neills 1-06

SARSFIELDS collected their first two points of the new campaign when they secured a somewhat uncomfortable four points victory over Shane O’Neills on Sunday at Father Dan McGeown Memorial Park.

Unlike their opening encounter against Culloville the Hoops were not faced with a gale force wind, but on this occasion they had to battle against themselves at times, considering that bad handling and a series of basic errors kept their opponents in the game for long periods.

Shane’s visited Trasna without their two midfielders who had started in the drawn game against Whitecross two days earlier, the South Armagh men looked light on the bench and at times fell short in some of the physical exchanges. They could struggle to stay afloat in a competitive top flight this season.

Sarsfields were the more polished and experienced team on the day, the home side appeared to be in control and leading by two points to one on the quarter mark when a defensive error brought the house down and presented Shanes full forward Paddy Gregory with the simplest of tap ins. All of the Sarsfields scores in the first half were contributed to either Michael or Richard Stevenson, before the visitors struck for their goal, Richard Stevenson had knocked over a point from play and one from a set piece and in fairness to the winners they lost little time in pulling back the early deficit. Stevenson with a free put just one between them and his brother Michael burst clear following good approach work from Paul McGaughey before finishing to the bottom corner seven minutes before the break.

Michael Brady pulled one back for the visitors who were having difficulty with the hands on tackling of Daren Breen, the effective Mark Reynolds who was a little bit down from his normal high standards and Kieran Kerr at wing back who had an excellent afternoon.

The Trasna men went in at the break 1-05 to 1-02 in front but it could have been more comfortable, Richard Stevenson’s strike a minute from the short whistle took a coat of paint off the crossbar and the palmed effort from Shanes wing forward Brady looked a little more tame as he attempted to beat McAvoy in the winners goal.

Trasna’s midfield pairing of Eamon McGeown and Brian Lavery were consistent on the day, they won the throw in on the resumption and McGeown put Michael Stevenson away to put the home side four in front.

On 33 minutes Johnny Niblock placed a ball in the path of Chris McGaughey whose effort fell to the left of the post and his brother Paul broke the Stevenson’s monopoly on scoring with a great strike from play on 35 minutes.

Johnny Reynolds worked Michael Stevenson into room on the quarter mark and the Armagh player settled himself before knocking over with his left boot. Over elaboration on the part of the home side kept the visitors in the game and with four between the teams a crucial call from referee Kevin McNeice disallowed a Shane O’Neill’s goal three minutes from time for what was alleged to have been an illegal pick up.

Two points from Shane O’Neill’s Paul Lennon brought the South Armagh side back to within two points but Paul McGaughey steadied the ship for the winners with the final point of the game in injury time.

During an uncomfortable afternoon the Trasna side never settled into their stride, but they did enough despite some sloppy defending to gain their first league points of the season.