Moneyslane’s season ended in disappointment on Saturday as they lost 3-1 to St Marys to put paid to their promotion hopes.
In the end, a win wouldn’t even have seen them promoted as Valley Rangers beat Bourneview YM to stay above Slane in third spot.
At one stage on Saturday, Moneylane sat in the promotion spot as they were 1-0 up and Valley Rangers were behind but Slane managed to press the self destruct button with two sendings off that changes the game and the promotion race.
Club boss David Johnstone, however, was remaining upbeat after the game.
“The obvious disappointment must be seen in context of a fabulous run since January and the players deserve so much credit for that,” he said. “We got ourselves into a great position with a great finish from Harrison but from being 1-0 up and looking comfortable after Blevins’ cracking penalty save, we contrived to throw the game away. Two sendings off in the manner that happened was very poor as was the defending for their first goal, which was crucial.
“I still believe the players did the shirt proud in last 30 minutes when at nine against eleven, they dug deep and showed real composure on the ball and didn’t concede.
“What a great advert it was for Mid Ulster Football with a large vocal crowd and I am sure the players will learn from the game and be better equipped for next season. Congratulations to Newry and St Marys, who earned promotion.”
With captain Bingham injured, Whitten suspended and a number of players carrying injuries, it was always going to be a tall order for Slane to beat St Marys on their home patch but it was the away team that started on top.
The first chance fell to Nesbitt but he failed to direct his header from eight yards on target. Greg Harrison then had a long range effort clip the base of the post. Gracey and Kerr were on top in midfield and it was the latter who created the opener.
Kerr won a strong challenge on the half way line and played a through ball for Harrison to control and tuck the ball confidently past the advancing keeper.
St Marys had a great opportunity to level when a penalty was awarded for handball but Blevins yet again produced a fantastic save, diving to his right.
It continued to be a tight game but that all changed in the 43rd minute when the referee’s assistant drew the referee’s attention to an off the ball incident and Chris Kerr was shown a red card. From the free-kick, an unmarked St Marys player thumped the ball home at the back post.
Down to 10 men, Moneyslane had barely settled into the second half when again from a free-kick, St Marys scored a free header at the back post. Less than five minutes later, the game was effectively over when centre-back Murdoch tried to block a shot but the ball looped over Blevins and into the corner of the net.
Nesbitt then let his frustration boil over and was shown a second yellow to end a very impressive season on a disppointing note.