The Swifts Reserves completed their pre-season preparations with a tough home fixture against Derryhirk Utd.
During the opening stages it quickly became clear that the visitors were determined to make the most out of their journey to Rathfriland.
For the opening 20 minutes the home side worked tirelessly to limit Derryhirk to long range efforts, however on the half hour mark some loose marking allowed a runner from midfield to break into the box where he headed home a fine cross to give the visitors the advantage.
Rathfriland gathered themselves and worked to keep their shape and discipline, while remaining to try and carve open the Lurgan side on the break.
A quick break to the byline saw the ball cut back to Monaghan, who shuffled his feet well only to strike straight at the Derryhirk ‘keeper. James Ward timed a brilliant run to the back post only to fire narrowly wide shortly before halftime.
The second half saw the visitors take control of the game with an early goal from a long ball into the area, the marking from the home side again letting them down. On one occasion a powerful header from O’Neill went inches past the back post.
As the home-side tried to press in search for a goal they left themselves exposed at the back, a quick break 20 minutes from time allowed the brilliant Derryhirk number seven score his third of the day.
It was Derryhirk that finished stronger, a backpass to stand in ‘keeper Stevie ‘Chamakh’ Brannigan wasn’t dealt with quickly enough and the striker bundled the ball into the net.
This outing for the Swifts Reserves against much higher league opposition showed flashes of the league winning form of last season, but also exposed areas which need addressed in the coming weeks.
The Swifts Reserves will have to address these quickly if they want to progress in the O’Hara Cup with a home tie against Armagh Blues to come on Saturday.