BPFL McReynolds Cup
St James Swifts 3-2 Cookstown Youth
St James Swifts battled Cookstown in this week's McReynolds Cup tie for a spot in the semi-final of the competition.
The game started well for the home side after they piled the pressure on early in the game from set-pieces which caused trouble for Cookstown.
The first real attempt came in the fifth minute when Eugene Gallagher met a cross from Ciaran Rooney, but the effort wisped just wide. Swifts continued their early momentum with a shot from Conor Sullivan from the D area, the effort forced Donaghy into action.
In the 12th minute, Swifts took the lead after a superb goal from Gallagher. Rooney once again linked up with the striker Gallagher who caught the pass with an immense touch with his knee before volleying the ball into the roof of the net. 1-0 Swifts after an impressive opening period.
Swifts had their work cut out for them as Cookstown came out with vengeance for an equaliser. Curtis Hassan found his team-mate Calum Murphy who sliced a volley at goal but almost fluked its way past Ruadhan McKenna’s goal.
Gallagher almost made it two for the home side, but his effort flew over the bar after he caught a volley from a cross, but the pass dragged behind him causing him to balloon his effort high into the Suffolk Road sky.
Darren Hyland was the first into the referee’s book after he took a cynical challenge just before the half to halt the counterattack that was brewing.
Frustration crept into the Swifts gameplay, most of the half saw passes over hit and too short. Many chances went begging.
The Swifts did enter the break a goal to the good after a half that was relatively poor by their high standards.
Their gameplay upped in intensity as soon as the second-half whistle blew. It wasn’t long before they made it 2-0 after being awarded a spot-kick in the 47th minute after a collision in the box. Gallagher made no mistake from the penalty and got his and Swifts' second of the afternoon.
Swifts retreated into their shell, and it cost them instantly. A long ball – which wasn’t dealt with – allowed Cookstown to half their deficit after captain Megarry leapt high like a salmon and drove his header into the ground to beat the Swifts' shot-stopper.
St James looked nervy for a spell as Cookstown came close with another effort from Megarry which was saved and a free kick that had to be saved well by Ruadhan McKenna.
Finally, in the 65th minute, the home side restored their two-goal advantage. Thomas Logan was alert and nicked the ball off the toes of the Cookstown defender, he then dribbled past the keeper and controlled his finish into the empty goal, much to his side’s delight.
It was almost a case of De Ja Vu. The Tyrone side swung a free kick in from distance which managed to surpass everyone in the box, but the ball was a whisker away from making it 3-2. A sigh of relief came, and Swifts looked to be their own enemy at times.
Fresh legs were brought into the fold to try and tighten up the game for St James’. Joseph McCall and Ryan McMenamin worked well, and they looked settled to see out the game.
It should really have been 4-1 for the Swifts after Rooney found himself in space and just gave the away side too much time to get back and block his effort. The corner was delivered deep and found Daniel Wilson’s head to which he came mighty close, but the score remained 3-1.
The final five minutes would be a lot nervier than expected. Cookstown grabbed another to make it 3-2 after Conor Hassan poked home from close range after Swifts failed to defend a second set-piece goal.
It would be a mere consolation; however, the Swifts were relieved men when the final whistle blew. The game finished St James Swifts 3-2 Cookstown Youth.
The Swifts are into the semi-final of this season’s McReynold’s Cup and know that a better performance will put them in good stead to lift the silverware this year.
St James Swifts: R McKenna, M Feerick, A Martin, C Rooney, D McHugh, D Wilson, C Sullivan, S Donnelly, T Logan, E Gallagher, D Hyland
Subs: E McCormick, R McMenamin, J McCall, D Mullan
Scorers: Gallagher 10’ 47’, T Logan 60’
Cookstown Youth: L Dunaghy, J Turkington, J Leslie, R Brown, B Kelly, M Megarry, A Silva Machado, A Ferreira, S Arrell, C Hassan, C Murphy
Subs: F Da Silva, L Glasgow.
Scorers: M Megarry 49’, C Hassan 87’