Greencastle Rovers made their NAFL Division 2B debut last Saturday in a tough game against last season's title contenders Colin Valley FC. The Rovers welcomed James Gallagher and Stephen Trainor back into their starting eleven at Colin Valley's Good Shepherd Road pitch on the outskirts of Poleglass.
Rovers got off to a shaky start allowing Valley to dictate the pace of play in the opening phases. However, it wasn't long before Greencastle began asserting their influence on the game.
A rasping Rab Butler free kick from 25 yards looked to be sailing into the bottom corner but was somehow kept out by the Valley ‘keeper.
Brendan Osborne and Martin Lillis were making inroads on the wings and Patrick McIlroy was proving to be a nuisance in and around the penalty box, but no clear cut opportunities fell Greencastle’s way.
The North Belfast side were made to pay for their non-penetrative play on 30 minutes.
A great passage of one-touch football from Valley down the left flank stretched Greencastle and allowed for an on-rushing midfielder to smash the ball high into the Greencastle goal from the edge of the area.
The Rovers emerged for the second half determined to take the game to Colin Valley once more. The football on show was by no means tantalizing but Greencastle remained very much in the match.
The best opportunity of the half came when the Valley goalkeeper spilled the ball following a shot from the left. The loose ball lay in his goalmouth for a second or two, however a yellow shirt was unable to react quickly enough to punish the mistake.
Greencastle's chances of nicking a point were all but shattered with 10 minutes to go. A Valley striker charged down a Greencastle clearance, pounced on the loose ball and found the back of the net from six yards. As Greencastle poured forward in search of a consolation goal, Valley added to their woes; firing home a third goal with only seconds remaining.
The Rovers players will be eager to right the wrongs of their trip to West Belfast when they face Rosemount Rec at the Valley Leisure Centre this coming Saturday (2pm kick-off).
GRFC: Mark Young, Stephen McFall, Stephan Fegan, Brian Burns, James Gallagher, Martin Lillis, William Keenan (capt), Stephen Trainor, Brendan Osborne, Patrick McIlroy, Rab Butler, Leo Morgan, Niall Southam, Rowan Vernon.
Man of the Match: McFall.