Gers pay the penalty in an agonising semi-final defeat

Banbridge Rangers' Cup run came to an end in what was a stunning semi-final. INBL1449-244pb
Banbridge Rangers' Cup run came to an end in what was a stunning semi-final. INBL1449-244pb

There is a Christmas saying that asks for goodwill to all men but that wasn’t the case in the Premier Cup semi-final as Camlough Rovers keeper Joe Goodwill broke the hearts of all wearing blue.

The stopper produced a top drawer save during the early stages game to deny Banbridge Rangers midfielder Jonny O’Neill and then surpassed these heroics by superbly saving the Gers’ fifth penalty after Camlough had already missed one.

Rovers took full advantage by levelling to take it to sudden death where the woodwork ended Banbridge Rangers’ New Year Cup final dream.

It was in the seventh minute when Goodwill was first tested in a high tempo game as a looping headed clearance was volleyed forcefully towards the top corner by O’Neill but he was somehow denied by an acrobatic fingertip save.

On 21 minutes left back William Frazer had to receive the Terry Butcher treatment when Camlough striker Declan Monaghan nudged him head first into the metal fence and found his way into referee Killian Kerr’s book.

The Gers were down to ten men for several minutes but still created openings with striker Jerry Philip paving the way for Brady to find space on the right but a shot with his weaker foot failed to find the net.

Frazer returned to the field and made an instant impact by making a goal-line clearance after Monaghan had dribbled his way to the byline and his pull back to John Grant was drilled low past keeper Chris Davison but not past the alert Rangers left back.

With ten minutes to go until the break Camlough should have opened the scoring against the run of play when a free -kick found Monaghan unmarked at the back post but he somehow headed wide from a yard out.

The start of the second half saw a drop in tempo from Rangers with Camlough looking to attack from the off and they grabbed the lead as Camlough’s Martin Browne was able to find the net from a similar header at the back post.

The joy was to be short-lived as Banbridge Rangers found an equaliser within two minutes after the ball fell fortuitously to O’Neill at the back post and he poked home from eight yards out to send the large travelling support into raptures.

In the 92nd minute, a long punt forward saw Monaghan recover the ball at the corner flag and faced off in a one on one against Chambers who took the skilful striker out and a second yellow saw him take an early bath.

At the start of extra time, Rangers lost their all action Captain Colin Cousins to injury with Adam Beattie coming on into midfield.

Rangers’ first two penalties were expertly dispatched by brothers Dean and Andy Mallen who had both come on late in the game to utilise their dead ball capabilities.

Camlough’s second penalty was fired past the top corner to the delight of the away support and both teams made no mistake with their next two penalties apiece leaving Jeff Brady with a chance to send his team into the final.

Unfortunately, his penalty was tipped around the post by Goodwill as it headed towards the bottom corner. Camlough then took the game to sudden death but the Gers’ hearts sunk with the defeaning sound of the crossbar being struck by Kyle Sergeant’s driven shot.

The Rovers response from Browne was into the very top corner to send the boys from South Armagh into the Premier Cup final where they will play the winners of Tandragee Rovers and St Marys.

The match was a great advert for Intermediate football with a passionite crowd, two commited teams and plenty of incidents.

BANBRIDGE RANGERS: Davison, Sergeant, Gregg, Chambers, Frazer (Mallen 109), Porter (Mallen 107), O’Neill, Cousins (c) (Beattie 94), Brady, Mallen, Philip.