THE Swifts Reserves travelled to Tyrone to do battle with Dungannon Rovers Reserves, a win would be enough to set up a title clincher at Iveagh Park against Red Star Reserves.
From the first minute Rathfriland pressed the strengthened Dungannon side, applying pressure in advanced areas, winning possession and building attacks through midfield.
Chances fell to Hillen, Power and Maginn in the opening period, but the clinical finish was always lacking. Dungannon threatened very little, adopting a long ball approach that was comfortably dealt with by Lawson and Scott at centre half.
The best move of the half saw one touch football through midfield, ending with a Power strike on the edge of the area which bounced agonisingly wide of the far post.
The Champions elect were impressive in approach but finding the finishing touch in front of goal proved difficult. The halftime whistle sounded with the score-line 0-0, the visitors controlling the game.
The second half started where the first left off and the Swifts Reserves forced the Dungannon side to retract deep into their own half. From a well taken free kick Gary O’Reilly saw his far post header hit the side netting. Moments later he was rewarded for a brave leap between two defenders, his downward header beat the ‘keeper to open the scoring.
As the Swifts pressed for the second they were left exposed, Neil Graham coming to the rescue with a superb stop with his outstretched leg. He was called upon again from a well struck effort, tipping impressively over the bar.
Moments later he was denied any further involvement when he was harshly dismissed.
Niall Maginn donned the gloves but was unable to stop the well struck penalty. The visitors made a change of formation with the introduction of Monaghan, looking to keep control high up the pitch and continue the midfield dominance.
Gary O’Reilly was again the thorn in the Dungannon side, applying pressure to a hesitant defender and running clear to score his second.
Dungannon hit straight back when Maginn lost his bearings, allowing a weak effort to slip through to make it 2-2.
The winning desire of the Swifts was again apparent, as they pressed to get the winner they had travelled for, O’Reilly completed his hat-trick with a fine turn on the edge of the area and a strong strike across goal.
In the closing stages Maginn was forced off with injury and hat-trick hero O’Reilly took place between the posts, his strike partner took control of a free-kick 25 yards from goal, firing a blistering shot straight into the top corner to make it 4-2.
The Swifts Reserves have shown impressive character all season, on Saturday past it was team spirit and desire that overcame a strong Dungannon side and a questionable refereeing display.
On Wednesday night in front of a home crowd the Swifts Reserves will look to be crowned champions and has been the case all season they will look to do it in their flamboyant style.