NAFL Border Cup, quarter-final
Immaculata 0 Rathfriland Rangers 2
IMMACULATA'S interest in the Border Cup came to an end at Grosvenor Recreation Centre on Saturday as Rathfriland Rangers dominated this quarter-final to march into the last four.

The visitors were just crisper and sharper throughout this game as they dominated for the most part against a Mac side that only had some fleeting moments in the game.

Robert Graham put the visitors one up in the first half and they made it safe through Adam Neale in the second period as Immaculata finished with 10 men when Adrian Oliver - an early substitute for the injured Kevin McGovern - was shown red five minutes from time.

This dismissal didn't have any impact on the game as it was clear the hosts had a mountain to climb that they just didn't seem likely to scale.

Conditions for this quarter-final were far from ideal with a very strong wind blowing down the pitch that Immaculata had at their backs for the opening period, but it seemed the elements were more of a hindrance than a help with passes being overhit although it was far from ideal playing into it either with Rathfriland goalkeeper Jonathan Parr's attempted clearance downfield late in the half hanging in the air before blowing back out for a corner.

James Haughey lets fly with a shot

James Haughey lets fly with a shot

Still, it was the visitors who seemed to adapt much better as they passed the ball around well from the off and this allowed them to start making chances with one move putting Graham in on the left, but he shot into the side-netting.

McGovern's ankle injury on eight minutes was not what Immaculata needed, but they didn't ever really get any traction going forward as Rathfriland continued to move the ball around well and be first to the challenges.

Jordan Hayes and Brian Newell saw shots go just outside the post, while Ruairi Fitzpatrick's low free-kick was also just wide as Rathfriland got closer to the opener that finally arrived on 26 minutes.

Again it was the result of a fine passing move as Graham got into an advanced position, swapped passes with Andrew Kilmartin and his shot took a deflection that beat Daire McAuley and went into the net.

Immaculata had little to shout about at the other end by this point apart from a Reece McGinley shot that was too high, but they did test Parr with James Haughey and then Sean McGovern letting fly from deep that forced saves, the second out for a corner that resulted in Colm O'Rioran nodding just over from close range.

Rathfriland really should have been two up by this time as Newell somehow failed to steer the ball into the net from yards out after McAuley's save from Fitzpatrick sat up nicely for him, but they had to be content with a one goal advantage at the interval.

The visitors continued to press in the second period as they were virtually camped in the Immaculate half and only for the brilliance of McAuley in the home goal, the winning margin could have been much greater.

Adrian Oliver tries to hod off a challenge

Adrian Oliver tries to hod off a challenge

He saved well from a Graham free-kick before Newell was just inches away from turning a teasing cross home.

Mac's only real chance of note came when Haughey nodded a cross back across goal, but Oliver couldn't steer his header on target.

Instead, the action was taking place almost exclusively at the other end with Newell and Fitzpatrick having opportunities, but the second goal would come on 73 minutes with Graham getting to the end line and cutting a brilliant ball back across goal where Neale was lurking to turn it home.

Oliver's red card on 85 minutes compounded Immaculata's misery on the day as McAuley was kept busy late on to deny the visitors a third as he saved well from Neale and Sam McAllister, but the damage had already been down as Rathfriland march on.

IMMACULATA: D McAuley, P Adams, M Fisher, D Bellew, S McGovern, C O'Riordan, J Haughey, E Fallon (J McClenaghan 65), K McGovern (A Oliver 8), G McVicker (D Jackson 78), R McGinley

RATHFRILAND RANGERS: J Parr, D Devlin, R Graham, B Johnston, H Campbell, J Hayes, R Fitzpatrick (S McAllister 80), A Kilmartin, B Newell (M Holloway 80), A Neale, R Kelly (M Havern 72)

REFEREE: Peter Murray