Hard-working Downpatrick topple Dundela to secure Intermediate Cup progress
Downpatrick joint manager Joe McMahon believes his side are getting everything they deserve for putting in the hard graft away from the pitch, to help them achieve eye-catching results like their 4-1 Intermediate Cup second round win over Dundela on Saturday.
The men from Rosconnor Playing Fields have enjoyed a tremendous first half of the season upon their promotion back up into the Northern Amateur Football League’s Premier Division, occupying the league’s Christmas number two spot behind Albert Foundry, with an encouraging six wins out of seven.
And while, like most managers, McMahon and fellow Downpatrick boss Kevin Trueman have their sights firmly fixed on league success, a comprehensive victory over an NIFL Championship club with a rich pedigree in the Intermediate Cup – and on their own turf – is a welcome boost for any Amateur League club going forward.
McMahon stated: “If you asked anyone around our neck of the woods who won the Intermediate Cup last year, they probably couldn’t tell you, but for us, the important thing is we are winning matches.
“It has been a good season so far for us, but we haven’t had a home game since August 29. The reason things are going well for us so far is because everyone has been knocking their pan in, and as we keep telling them, if you work hard, you get the rewards.
“Everyone needs to be fighting for their place. We asked four players to play in positions they had never played before today, and credit to them, they looked comfortable and got us a good win.”
Dundela, undoubtedly, would have approached this encounter with the memory of their last outing, a 2-0 Irish Cup defeat by fellow amateurs Immaculata a fortnight ago, at the forefront of their minds.
On that occasion, the Duns looked a team out of sorts, but this time, they began with purpose and drive, seemingly determined to prevent a second cup to defeat to amateur opposition.
Downpatrick keeper Michael McKenna had to be on his guard to keep out early efforts from Ethan Knipe and Matty Burrows, while it took a tremendous diving save from him to palm away a close range volley from Burrows not long after.
The home side would regret those missed chances, as Downpatrick got straight off the mark with their first opportunity. However, it may have felt like hard lines to the home supporters, who watched Eoin Boyle’s low 12th minute shot rebound off the post, then cruelly off keeper Jonny Sargeant, before trickling into the net.
But when your luck’s out, it’s out, and the pain for the Duns faithful was enhanced by the fact that seconds prior to the goal, Mark McLelland had been put through on goal by Lee Lenaghan, only to be ruled offside in a very tight decision.
The Wilgar Park men did their best to find a reply, as a Burrows cross was just too high for McLelland, while Matthew Kerr’s connecting touch at the back post was too heavy, sending the ball out for a goal kick.
Meanwhile, Downpatrick remained clinical in front of goal, with Boyle finding the bottom right hand corner after a quick counter-attack, to double his tally on the half hour mark.
Dundela continued to be frustrated in their attempts, with a Lenaghan attempt clipping the inside of the post, while a hit-and-hope strike from Gary Irwin, which flew twice the height of the net, probably summed up the mood in the home camp as half time approached.
Downpatrick weren’t getting a bagful of chances, but crucially, with each one that did come their way, they were making them count. A 25-yard free kick from Stephen Galbraith in the 67th minute was flicked on by Ricky Kerr to Peter Telford, who stabbed it into the roof of the net from yards out.
The Duns continued to battle, but it was now clearly in vain, and when Burrows collected the ball from Scott Collins before rounding McKenna for a tap-in, referee Mark McCurdy’s whistle sounded for offside.
The visitors, to their credit, were good value for the win, and didn’t let up on their work-rate, despite their three-goal cushion. In fact, they went on to add another, in the 76th minute – with substitute Andrew Telford producing a stunning diving header from brother Peter’s corner.
There was time for a Dundela consolation strike, and while Adam Neale somehow contrived to scoop the ball from Knipe’s cross, from a couple of yards out, soon after this, Burrows slotted home from another Neale effort that had struck the post.
And although results may not be going the way the new management team of David Murphy and Stephen Gourley would like, Murphy is still positive about the longer-term future.
He said: “We have seen a difference in the last couple of weeks (since we took over). There has been a tempo and a bit of fight that wasn’t there before, and now we have to take that into the league. It is the league that matters, not the cups.
“We don’t play in the league again until the middle of January, so we have time to work on it. We knew this wouldn’t be an easy job, but we are enjoying it. Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
MAN OF THE MATCH: Michael McKenna (Downpatrick). It rained goals for Downpatrick on Saturday, but the good work of their goalkeeper gave them the ideal platform to build on.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Peter Telford’s goal 67th minute goal from a Stephen Galbraith free kick was the moment Downpatrick could relax… even though they didn’t.
SAVE OF THE MATCH: There were a few that caught the attention, but Michael McKenna’s diving save from Matty Burrows in the 10th minute was a great example of his agility.
BLOOPER OF THE MATCH: Adam Neale really should have tucked away his late effort from a couple of yards out.
Jonny Sargeant: Found Downpatrick tough to shut out. 5
Owen Thompson: Tough day at the office. 5
Scott Collins: Beaten to the ball more often than he’d have liked. 5
Gary Irwin: Put in a few decent challenges. 6
Colin Smith: Not lacking in effort. 6
Stephen Gourley: Did his best to lead by example. 6
Ethan Knipe: Showed glimpses of quality. 6
Lee Lenaghan: Created chances, but maybe should have taken one or two as well. 7
Mark McLelland: Pressing was an asset. 6
Matty Burrows: Dundela’s biggest goal threat on the day eventually pulled one back. 7
Matthew Kerr: Passing could have been sharper at times. 5
Adam Neale: On for Kerr, 59
Scott Dornan: On for Knipe, 81
Stephen Shaw: Not used
Jordan West: Not used
James Taylor: Not used
Michael McKenna: Made several important saves. 8
Barry Fitzsimons: Looked in complete control. 8
Aaron McGarry: A confident contribution. 7
Mark Holland: Very few errors in his game. 8
Niall Walsh:Took everything in his stride. 7
Andy Baggley: Did the simple things well. 7
Ruari Fitzpatrick: A thoughtful display, nothing was rushed unduly. 7
Ricky Kerr: Made a few neat passes. 7
Stephen Galbraith: Good turn of pace and even better first touch. 8
Peter Telford: Deserved his brace. 8
Eoin Boyle: Two goals capped a fine performance. 8
Andrew Telford: On for Fitzpatrick, 62
Adrian McCoubrey: Not used
Gerard Collins: Not used
Belfast Telegraph Digital