Sports

Eglish suffer sinking feeling

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Eglish suffer sinking feeling thumbnailDejection for Eglish’s Colm Byrne after the final whistle as Eglish suffer relegation to Division 2.

ON A dark day for Eglish, relegation was a bitter pill to swallow as they lost out to Urney in the Tyrone Division 1/2 promotion-relegation play-off at Eskra.

Urney...1-10
Eglish...0-9

With survival in their own hands, the St Patrick's failed to deliver the level of passion and intensity required to avoid the drop.

They were unable to match the hunger of an Urney side driven by the hurt of successive disappointing close shaves in their hunt for promotion over the past few seasons.

Ronan Lafferty grabbed the only goal of the game seven minutes from the end, and the north Tyrone men were able to hang on for a deserved victory and a return to senior football after a 19-year absence.

Johnny Lafferty won the free that McNulty tapped over, but Eglish were level by the sixth minute when Emmet McKenna drove over a long range score.

McKenna landed another superb score from Sean McKillion's pass, but the sides were level again when Ryan Henry was on target from a placed ball.

Eglish, with wing backs Colm Byrne and Conall McNulty pushing forward and Conor McKenna running at their defence at every opportunity, enjoyed a productive spell towards the end of the opening quarter, with McNulty sending over a tidy score and Emmet McKenna hitting his third.

And they almost had a goal when McKillion sent in a shot that goalkeeper Keith Nelis pushed around a post.

But Urney began to get on top at midfield through McNulty and Henry, and hit three on the spin to go ahead.

McNulty and Henry both converted frees, and Ronan Lafferty used his strength to drive in for a point.

AFL star Conor McKenna made a brilliant intervention, carrying the ball in from midfield to fire over a score, but the north Tyrone men responded with two more, an acute angle effort from Johnny Lafferty and another from his brother Ronan.

They led by 0-8 to 0-6 at the interval, and stretched the advantage with Henry's long range free.

With Gary Lafferty dropping deep as sweeper, Urney were able to curtail an Eglish attack which lacked the penetrative qualities they needed.

The men in Black managed just one point in the third quarter, a Sean McKillion free, and saw a number of efforts sail wide of the posts.

A black card ended the involvement of Urney wing back Martin Owens, but they were winning the midfield battle through McNulty and Henry, with Brian Kelly also proving an effective ball-winner in the central area.

And they created a couple of goal chances, both of which fell to Ronan Lafferty.

First he brought a terrific save from 'keeper Ferghal McNulty, and when he broke through again moments later, he pulled his shot low and wide of an upright.

But the goal did arrive in the 54th minute, when Eglish were punished for giving away possession on the halfway line.

Substitute Stephen Lafferty set off towards goal, trading passes with Henry, and with the Eglish defence stretched, he off-loaded to Ronan Lafferty, who palmed to the net from close range.

The St Columba's immediately flooded their defence with bodies in order to protect the five points lead, and did so successfully, conceding just a point in the closing stages when Eglish desperately needed a goal.

“We made hard work of it there at the end. Eglish missed a couple of frees at the start of the second half, but we had some handy chances and we could have made it a lot easier," said Urney player-manager Fergal McNulty.

“But I couldn't fault the lads for efforts and guts on a winter's day up in Eskra. We produced the goods."

He was delighted with the way the players bounced back from a slump following an early championship exit.

“After the championship we were on a bit of a lull, because we had been going so well in the championship in previous years.

“It was a big shock for us not to be in it. we played Aghyaran and we got stuffed, we played Eskra and beat them and the confidence started to grow again, and we beat Loughmacrory.

“From there on we believed, we believed we could do it, it was our time."

In 2017, the giants of Tyrone football will be heading for Clady for big matches, teams like Killyclogher, Coalisland, Dromore and Clonoe, and McNulty is looking forward to the challenge.

“It will be great for the community, and it's a great challenge now for us to up our game and prepare for such good opposition."

“It's going to be a big challenge, but hopefully we can get the commitment, get the boys to put the football first . We have got there now, let's embrace it and see how we get on."

Eglish - Ferghal McNulty, Aaron Daly, Johnny Jordan, Ciaran Donnelly, Colm Byrne, Ryan McKenna, Conall McNulty (0-2), Philip Barker (0-1), Pauric Martin, Brendan Donnelly, Conor McKenna (0-2), Conor McCann, Sean McKillion (0-1), Emmet McKenna (0-3), Paul Mason.

Subs - Matthew McGleenan for Mason, Peter McCann for C McCann.

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