Mattock Rangers edged past neighbours Hunterstown Rovers in round three of the Paddy Sheelan Cup on a frighteningly cold Tuesday night at Pairc Baile Fiach, with the Collon men grateful for a five-minute spell at the start of the second half that yielded two goals.
Craig Englishby and Brian Corcoran were the men to find the net for Mattock as they picked up their first win of the new season at the third time of asking. Credit is due to Hunterstown who, despite losing two experienced players to first half injury, kept themselves within touching distance of their visitors. They could have snatched a late draw, or even a win.
Dean Burns early goal had set them off on the perfect start. The side from Collon took their time to find their range. They hit three wides before notching their first score, via the boot of Shane Hickey. By that stage Hunterstown had roared out of the traps and led courtesy of two Glen Mathews frees and Burns’ goal.
That had come at the end of an excellent move which ended with Muiris Ó Súilleabháin finding Burns, before the youngster hit his effort true and across goalkeeper Mark Leneghan.
Hamstring injuries to both Alan Landy and Tony McKenna put paid to their evenings in the first half and with Mattock looking to capitalise on their opponents misfortune, they could rely on the boot of Cathal Fleming who put over two frees in quick succession to narrow the lead.
Corcoran notched his first score of the game too but his team will have rued six first half wides which left them trailing by one point at the interval. Just 30 seconds were on the clock in the second period when Mattock netted. Englishby managed to squeeze the ball past Niall Carrie.
Both these sides lost their previous matches to the other team making up the N2 mini-league in Group E – Ardee St Marys. Rovers’ eight point win over Kilkerley in Darver on Sunday edged them ahead of their local rivals in the group table. Mattock could only draw against the side from north Louth.
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Hunterstown did hit back with Jamie Ward hitting high and over the bar and Leneghan was forced into a save to deny sub Keith Brennan a goal. Corcoran’s next interventions, however, would prove decisive. First, he found the posts from a narrow angle and then he was on hand to net when Jack Thompson’s attempt rebounded off the crossbar.
With a five point advantage and with Dan Bannon and Aaron O’Brien enjoy the better of the midfield tussle, it looked like Mattock could turn the screw. But, Rovers rallied. Mathews split the posts with a 45 and then from play before Ó Súilleabháin took Burns’ pass and followed suit.
Paul Carrie’s free made it a one point game. Ryan Leneghan and Burns then swapped points and impressive sub David Carroll went for goal but was off-target. Jamie Ward had an ever better chance to make the net ripple sixty seconds later. In space, his attempt cleared the bar.
Ben Watters and Fleming then put Mattock three ahead. No more goal chances arrived but Mathews did find his range again, notching from play and a free. The Intermediate champions will feel they were worth the win in the end, and will be happy with their performance level given the short break afforded to them this year, whereas for Hunterstown, there are positives to take.
HUNTERSTOWN ROVERS: Niall Carrie, Paddy Matthews, Patrick Taaffe, Martin Lennon, David Finn, Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, Paddy Mooney, Tony McKenna, Marc Ward, Jamie Ward, Paul Carrie, Glen Mathews, Colm Murphy, Alan Landy, Dean Burns.
Subs: Keith Brennan for Alan Landy (8), David Carroll for Tony McKenna (24), Robbie McNeice for Paddy Matthews (43), Rchard Cunningham for Martin Lennon (43), Caolan McCabe for Colm Murphy (47), Phelim McQuillan for Muiris Ó Súilleabháin (53).
MATTOCK RANGERS: Mark Lenehan, Ciaran Maguire, Shane Maguire, Cillian Hickey, Shane Hickey, Terry Donegan, Adrian Reid, Aaron O’Brien, Dan Bannon, Brian Corcoran, Ryan Leneghan, Cathal Fleming, Jack Thompson, Ben Watters, Craig Englishby.
Subs: Ben Quaile, Ben Markey.