Wolfe Tones 0-07 Sarsfields 1-06
LAST Wednesday nights Pat McMahon Cup semi-final played at Wolfe tones was more equal to a championship encounter than a pre-season tournament game.
No quarter was asked or indeed given on the evening and it took strong refereeing from the official in charge Damien McConville to bring order to proceedings midway through the first half when things appeared to be boiling over.
Several yellow cards were waved on the night and it was understandable that the derby rivals would both be keen to set out their stall in the early part of the season.
At the end of a hectic encounter it was Trasna’s wing forward Johnny Reynolds who put his side into the final, he despatched a late penalty which was won by Richard Stevenson who had forced his way into the Tones box. The home protests were waved away and the High Moss side held on to secure a place against either Maghery or St. Peter’s in the final.
On the night the scoring of Adam MckKeever for the home side and the accuracy of Richard Stevenson for Sarsfields were the highlights. Neither side were at full strength, Derrymacash defender
Ruairi McCaughley was on county under 21 duty, as was Trasna’s Paul McGeown, but Armagh senior player Michael Stevenson joined the action for the winners in the second half.
In retrospect the Tones had more to prove entering this encounter, the Cash men had been relegated last season and a committed performance against their near neighbours was paramount in order to spark a new season recovery.
Finian Moriarty went through an enormous amount of work on the night were the Tones unsettled the visitors in the opening quarter but were guilty of some wayward shooting which could have set up a comfortable half time lead. Wolfe Tones led at the break with scores from Adam McKeever 0-02, James Doyle and Niall Geoghan.
Eamon McGeown and Richard Stevenson kept Trasna in touch at the short whistle.
Forced to live on crumbs in the opening period Sarsfields began to find their feet in the third quarter, they did however fall three behind when McKeever shot two points, one of which came following a ten man move, But the Hoops responded through Richie Stevenson who looked back to his best knocking over four points without reply to bring the game to stalemate with just five minutes on the clock. With a draw looking likely Niall Geoghan, following a blistering run, struck what appeared to be the winning point, but in one last gasp effort Richard Stevenson broke through the home defence to win a penalty, Johnny Reynolds despatched the conversion to put the visitors into the final by the winning margin they had secured in their opening game of the McMahon cup against hosts Clann Eireann.
Neither set of managers would be focusing on their respective teams pre-season form, and while a lot of hard games are in store for both sides this season the commitment showed by both sets of players will have given their supporters a sense of purpose.
In a game were a goal was always going to be crucial, all three goalkeepers who played on the night were highly impressive. Under their new bosses Mickey Devlin and Oliver Cormican the Tones players will be under no illusions what is expected this season. Currently Trasna’s caretaker managers Jim McAlinden, Gerard McMahon and Francis Reynolds will be hoping to carry double victories into the McMahon final.