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Sky Blues win historic title in style

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

D-DAY at Spires Park on Saturday saw the biggest turn out of home fans in many a year as the locals came to support the Magherafelt Sky Blues secure their first NI Intermediate league title.

Magherafelt Sky Blues...7
Trojans...1

The Sky Blues responded with the most emphatic 7-1 victory over Derry outfit Trojans, with an inspired performance led by hat trick scoring skipper Ciaran Monaghan.

Unlike last week when they had to dig deep to overcome Maiden City, this was purely a stroll in the sunshine with NI Intermediate League champions Magherafelt Sky Blues turning on the style and winning in comprehensive style.

A great achievement for the club, a great campaign by all the players, but a major cog has been the inspirational management duo of Brian Taylor and Sean Monaghan. Club president Sean Kelly was for once left stuck for words.

Spires Park was buzzing in anticipation prior to kick off and for twenty minutes Trojans were well in the game and the atmosphere was one of trepidation with the Blues chasing a win that would see them as guaranteed champions.

It was the Blues who came out of the traps in positive fashion with Anthony O'Neill clipping the crossbar with his first cross and moments later he again surged down the right flank, beating two defenders but seeing his cross going timelessly wide.

O'Neill headed tamely from six yards straight at the keeper while Martin forced the keeper into saving smartly from a better directed header.

Skipper Rossi Monaghan, playing in more forward role, won possession and played a great through ball to centre forward Declan Martin but as he lined up his shot, a last ditch challenge saw him firing just off target.

Trojans rebuffed this Blues pressure and began threatening on the break and it took a fine full length save from Shifty to deny them a goal as tension began to rise among the multitudes.

This was as good as it got for Trojans as the hosts finally discovered their scoring touch to comprehensively overwhelm the maiden city outfit.

It was the Blues inspirational skipper Monaghan who lit the touch paper with a sublime finish; controlling Walls' pass he deftly flicked over the advancing keeper to find the top corner.

Spires erupted after this score and the Blues upped their tempo to completely overwhelm their opponents.

O'Neill on the left again broke clear and his ball left Declan Martin with a simple tap in on 21 minutes and three minutes later it was three nil and game over as a contest as Rossi latched onto a long ball and finished clinically.

The three goals inside six minutes had turned what had looked a testing game into a comfortable one.

Every time the Blues pressed forward they looked like scoring and any score looked possible as the visitors threatened to capitulate and throw in the towel.

Rossi was played through by a header from his strike partner Martin and looked long odds on to secure a ten minute hat trick, but for once he failed to get enough loft on his chip as the advancing keeper was able to save.

Ten minutes from the break it was four nil when a slightly over hit corner seemed to be going wide but wily skipper Monaghan managed to head it back across the goalmouth with Declan Martin nipping in to head in from close range.

The break came with the Blues four ahead and the league title wrapped up, too much pace and talent from this youthful Blues line up.

The celebrations had started among the Blues fans as they were so much in control.

Trojans enjoyed the better of things in the opening twenty minutes of the second half as the Blues just seemed content to sit back on their laurels and it required a great goal line clearance to deny them an early score.

 Sitting back allowed Trojans more time and space as they threatened to score and home keeper Shifty had to be alert with a fine save at an attackers feet as he lined up a shot from ten yards out and soon after Shifty had to turn over a goal bound header.

Midway through the half the Blues added a fifth with skipper Monaghan setting up Anthony O'Neill to poke into an unguarded net and the Blues began to enjoy the day playing with more poise and confidence.

Ten minutes to go and Emmet McGuckin was gifted an early Christmas present when the keeper's poor handling left him with a tap into an unguarded net.

Skipper Ciaran Monaghan rounded off a man of the match performance, securing his hat trick after a fine cross from Darren Walls, but he was still goal hungry and was denied a fourth after rounding the keeper, but seen his shot bundled off the line.

Trojans did finally secure a late consolation but it was the Blues day as they celebrated lifting the title with a resounding 7-1 victory.

Man of the Match - Ciaran Monaghan.

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