A SINGLE place and two points separated these sides before this play, but the teams were worlds apart on the day.
South Antrim 3 Raphoe 0
Raphoe lacked cohesion in one of their worst performances this season to date. The away side struggled to get any hold of the game as the hosts, South Antrim, eventually cruised to victory in the second half.
The Raphoe men conceded a penalty corner in the second minute of the first quarter as South Antrim’s youthful pace and skill gave Raphoe a torrid time throughout.
Davy Moore in the away nets thwarted the first attempt in an individually impressive performance. Raphoe did manage to squeak through until half time unscathed as a combination of wasteful South Antrim finishing and Moore saves kept the score-line blank.
The best Raphoe could muster in the first half were a few flashed long balls up to George Patterson and Tommy Orr who cut frustrated figures as the Donegal men could never wrestle any meaningful possession away from the hosts.
Raphoe’s rear-guard was eventually penetrated early in the third quarter as the Lisburn team saw an attacker set free down the left-hand side where he squared the ball past Moore for a tap in into an empty net.
From another hopeful Raphoe long ball up the pitch Tommy Orr pressed the South Antrim defence into a mistake which resulted in Gavin Lecky winning the away sides only penalty corner.
George Patterson’s goal was rightly chalked-off as this attempt was risen in a dangerous manner. In truth, an equaliser would have flattered Raphoe as their good defensive work couldn’t be matched with the ball often struggling to do anything other than relieve pressure but conceding possession.
In the final quarter with South having players in the sin-bin Raphoe tried to exert some pressure while the hosts where in possession.
However, it was at the other end where the chances fell. Netminder Moore doing brilliantly to deny Rory Brown first and then another clinker from Moore denied Hayden Cartmill.
Not to be out staged by his keeper Alan Meehan, who had a fine game throughout, showed his bravery to stop Brown again after he had slipped on the surface. His block tackle denying a certain goal at a potentially important stage.
Moore could do nothing to stop the hosts second from the penalty spot. The Donegal side had spent their energy by that stage as they were missing both Lee Stewart and Simon Goudie with only one replacement on the bench. The third South Antrim goal came from a second phase penalty corner as South pulled the Raphoe defence out of shape and passed the ball into the net.
Moore’s arguably best save came from the final action of the match as he stretched a right foot to deny a fourth from a counterattack.
Raphoe will have to improve massively in possession to get their desired result as they face basement side Ballinahinch at the Royal and Prior next Saturday at 14:30 in an important match to regain momentum.
Raphoe: D. Moore, T. Eaton, I. McGonigle, J. Watt, A. Meehan, J. Wilson, J. Long, G. Patterson, G. Lecky, T. Orr, K. Meehan, E. Lyttle. Coaches: R. Eaton.