Rathfriland Swifts Reserves overcame a side two leagues above them to reach the semi-final of the O’Hara Cup, beating AFC Craigavon 2-0.
With league form indifferent, the Cup holds the best opportunity for a chance of silverware and they’re certainly making the most of that.
It was Rathfriland who settled quicker in this quarter-final and began to move the ball with precision and purpose. Chances were carved out for Power and Maginn in the opening 10 minutes but they were unable to convert.
The home side looked solid along the backline of Johnston, O’Neill, Jackson and Scott allowing the midfield the security to advance high up the pitch and support the forwards. Rathfriland sought to use every inch of Iveagh Park with Brannigan and Maginn using both wings to great effect. On the half hour mark, Brannigan linked well with the striker and delivered a great ball into the box. Maginn was unlucky with his first effort which was blocked but his clever back heel from the rebound was handled on the line and the Swifts Reserves were awarded a penalty. Maginn stepped up to take responsibility and dispatched a cool strike.
Craigavon responded well and pushed hard for an equaliser, but Rathfriland battled strong to hold on to their advantage, Monaghan and Mackin in midfield were resolute in their tackling and desire to win possession. A series of free-kicks were the strongest threat that the visitors could create, but the Swifts Reserves held firm in defence and looked unlikely to concede.
The home side knew that the second goal would go a long way to deciding the game.
As Craigavon pushed for the leveller the Swifts Reserves were threatening on each break and it was via this route the second goal came. Monaghan won a strong kick from Trainor, knocking down to Maginn who controlled well on the left and found the clever run of Power. The experienced striker ran through and rounded the keeper with class before rolling a controlled left foot shot into the corner.
Rathfriland knew that a disciplined final half hour could see out the game and the team worked tirelessly for each other to ensure that the objective was fulfilled.
Strong defending saw out the game and the Reserve Division Three side were good value for their win. It will give the Swifts Reserves confidence in the next round regardless of the opponents. . The performance was evidence that with desire, dedication, effort and togetherness, reward awaits.