Raphoe 1st XI recorded their first league victory of the season in their second outing as Keith Meehan’s double edged the Donegal side past a gritty Newry team.
Raphoe 3 Newry Olympic 2
Newry will have felt hard done by leaving empty-handed after close game which they outperformed the home side for periods, which means the sweeter the victory for the Donegal men.
Raphoe continued this season’s theme of starting the games on the front foot. For the fifth game in a row Raphoe grabbed the opening goal within 8 minutes. Jonny Long intuitively followed up a Gavin Lecky shot that rebounded into his path off the post.
Lecky, continuing in an attacking role, had picked up the ball outside of the Newry ’25 yard line and progressed past one defender into the circle before firing a slap hit ball past the keeper that hit the upright where Long coolly lifted the ball past the hapless keeper. Simon Goudie then drew a good save from Raphoe’s only attacking penalty corner in the first half, which turned out to be the last chance for the Raphoe men in the first half.
Newry grew into the match after the opener and found a fortunate equaliser on 14 minutes. A hopeful crash ball from outside the circle ricocheted between Raphoe and Newry sticks before finding Newry’s Keith McWilliams unmarked in the circle. The Newry attacker applied the desired finish underneath Raphoe keeper Davy Moore.
Moore was in no mood to concede any more ‘soft’ goals as he repelled 3 first half penalty corners before being beaten by the fourth. Lecky deflected a Newry drag flick unto his own crossbar. When the ball came back to earth a Newry attacker pounced to slip the ball over the line.
Over the course of the second quarter and into the third quarter Newry has the better of the play. Raphoe struggled to find any penetration into the forward lines. T
he home side retained possession well with Alan Meehan, Ian McGonigle, Tom Eaton, Evan Lyttle and Lee Stewart playing neat hockey without being able to find any cutting passes through the packed Newry midfield. This ending Raphoe’s record of not being behind at half time in any match this season.
Raphoe dug deep as a third quarter onslaught of penalty corners barraged Moore’s net. The defensive quarter of Alan Meehan, Keith Meehan, Ian McGonigle and Evan Lyttle along with keeper Moore held firm during this testing phase in the match. Newry tallied 9 penalty corners in total, scoring only once.
Against the run of play Raphoe forced an equaliser when Lecky exerted a high press on Newry’s centre back, nicking the ball and advancing into the attacking ‘D’.
Newry’s John Taylor made an attempt at a last-ditch challenge on Lecky but fouled the forward as he attempted to round the keeper. Despite cries for a penalty stroke from players and crowd alike a penalty corner was awarded. No matter, from that set piece Keith Meehan deflected a Goudie effort onto a Newry players foot on the line resulting in penalty stroke. Meehan stepped up himself to convert.
After the three quarter time interval the Raphoe men seemed determined to snatch and grab all three points from the match. The tireless James Wilson, who celebrated his 18th birthday midweek and George Patterson, who was nursing a hamstring injury, gave a tremendous effort in midfield. Especially when Raphoe had players sin binned for 4 minutes in the final quarter.
What turned out to be the winner was scored once again from Keith Meehan from the penalty spot on 63 minutes. The ever-lively Tommy Orr was tread through a pass from Patterson deep into the Newry circle. Orr turned once then twice committing the Newry ‘keeper. His goal bound effort was again illegally stopped by a foot and Meehan converted from the spot again.
Lecky had the chance to extend the lead near the death as Newry sought after an equaliser, but he was unable to beat the keeper with a rasping shot. The Raphoe men saw out the remaining time without the injured Lee Stewart to notch their first league victory.
Raphoe will be looking to add to their tally next weekend when Portadown visit the Royal and Prior at 14:30.
Raphoe: D. Moore, E. Lyttle, A. Meehan, S. Goudie, T. Eaton, I. McGonigle, J. Wilson, L. Stewart, K. Meehan, J. Long, T. Orr, G. Lecky, G. Patterson. Coaches: Richard Eaton, Rodney Bates.