IRVINESTOWN WANDERERS 1 BERAGH SWIFTS 2
BERAGH continued their quest for a maiden success in the Mulhern Cup as they progressed into the semi-finals with a battling display against hosts Irvinestown at a breezy Bawnacre on Saturday afternoon.
The Swifts had to play out most of the second half with just ten men, after seasoned central defender Nigel Humphrey picked up his second yellow card, but despite enduring one or two scares in the closing straight they were full value for their victory.
A goal just before the break from Colin Adams and a breakaway strike by Stephen Browne in the second period handed Beragh a decisive edge, though Joseph Millar’s clever finish in the 86th minute for Irvinestown helped to set up a grandstand finale.
Wanderers started in more enterprising fashion and sought to use the searing pace of Joseph Millar down the flanks to unlock the Swifts rearguard. Ronan Ormsby’s telling throughballs from midfield was another source of danger for the hosts and a clever one-two with Gary Maguire almost set him in the clear, but keeper Jordan Newell was quickly off his line to gather.
Throughout the first period, the Swifts looked a real threat from set-pieces, massing the penalty box to pressure keeper Francis Ward. The tactic nearly paid dividends just before the half hour mark when Craig Breen’s delivery was met at the back post by Michael Brown who nodded it across for McKeown to get a glancing header onto it, his attempt grazing the top of the bar.
The visitors were now clearly in the ascendancy, Michael Brown curling an effort from just outside the box inches off target, while Stephen Brown also from distance tested Ward low down at his right hand post with a fierce hit.
Eventually their pressure told as the match ticked towards stoppage time. Craig Breen’s testing cross from the left led to a muddle in the Wanderers box, and somehow Adams’ audacious backheel flick trickled over the goal-line.
The teams turned around with the strong wind now at the backs of the Irvinestown players, though the first legitimate chance was again carved out by Swifts, McKeown’s attempted chip over the advancing Ward drifting off target.
Irvinestown were in need of a lift and it came their way in the 53rd minute when Humphrey saw red after picking up a second caution for tripping up the tricky Millar just on the edge of the area.
In the 73rd minute Beragh looked to have put the issue beyond doubt as McKeown’s sliderule pass put Browne in the clear and he slide a shot low past the keeper into the net.
Irvinestown continued to huff and puff but struggled to find anyway past the stubborn ten men blocking their path until the 86th minute when Millar capitalised on some sloppy play at the heart of the Swifts defence to nip in and loop an effort over Newell.
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