Ulster Semi Final awaits for Killylough
Killylough advanced to the semi-final of the Ulster Junior Cup on Sunday at the expense of Donegal League Leaders Kilmacrennan Celtic in idyllic conditions at the Community Grounds in Rathmullen.
It was a far from ideal start for the Monaghan Men however as the pre-match preparations were disrupted by the withdrawal from the squad of defensive pairing John Mc Aree and captain for the day Pauric Mc Crudden who was set to play his last game for the Hoops before departing for America.
The journey didnt seem to cause Killylough any problems as they exploded onto the front foot pressing well and finding space down on both wings which led to the first piece of goal mouth action as a Darragh Stirrat header was well saved on the line by Kilmacrennan Keeper Mark Gallagher following a Paul Askin corner. On 30 minutes Emmet Mc Crudden found space in the centre and played a ball into Ronan Stirrat on the channel who took matters into his own hands eluding Darren Toland in the box he neatly placed the ball past the near post deceiving Mark Gallagher in goal. Celtic seen the lion’s share of possession for the next fifteen minutes but constant pressure from everywhere in Lough’s 11 ensured it resulted in any clear cut chances and the scoreline stayed at 1-0 to the visitors at half time.
Kilmac started the second half with a noticeably increased tempo now utilizing the width of the pitch with a lot more conviction. Initially the visiting side failed to meet the high standard of pressing they set in the first half allowing a number of crosses to sail into their box for the first 15 minutes the majority of which were dealt with by Gavin Turley and David Ballantine. It was from a cross that Kilmacrennan created their best chance as a goal bound effort was miraculously cleared off the line by stopper David Ballantine and then blocked on the line by Mark Corrigan who was leading an excellent defensive of line of Kieran Milne, Gavin Turley and William Carroll.
The Donegal side where enjoying a territorial advantage as they pushed for an equaliser but this was soon to prove their downfall. Killylough counter attacks always looked threatening particularly through James Mc Allister on the right flank. On 65 minutes Mathew McCague who was constantly energetic in midfield won possession from Micheal Mc Laughlin before supplying Paul Askin who lofted a ball over the top to Ronan Stirrat. Stirrat who constantly kept the Celtic rear guard on the back foot rounded the Kilmacrennan keeper who had over committed and laid his pass back to the supporting Emmet McCrudden whose initial shot was blocked, he made no mistake with his second attempt though, Killylough 2-0.
Killylough’s work rate increased even further after this and Declan Treanor was introduced for the injured Paul Askin who had played fantastic. The substitute made an almost immediate impact finding space down the left flank and rifling an unstoppable effort from the edge of the box past the helpless Mark Gallagher to fire the Monaghan side into a perhaps flattering 3-0 lead.
To their credit Kilmacrennan kept pressing and on the 88th minute captain Timmy Burke was brought down in the area and the resultant penalty was converted by Micheal Mc Loughlin. That was to be as good as it got for the Donegal Champions though, and the visiting team left victorious with a semi-final berth secured for a first time. A fantastic achievement for players, management and everyone affiliated with the club.