by Jim MacArdle
After successive defeats away to Pats and home to Derry, the Drogs had no fixture last week and took the opportunity to play a few practice matches during the week before their trip to $hels today (Sat). With Ciaran Cluskey-Kelly and Dale Harding unavailable, Jake Corrigan came in to the middle of defence, Joe Judge slotted in at left back and Ken Costello in midfield and Dom Mahon dropped to the bench.
The home side had won three of their four to date and started confidently, but it was the Drogs who had the first chance on 9 minutes when Ollie raced through, beat the keeper, but delayed too long with his shot and it was cleared.
As the first half warmed up, it was clear that the Drogs were playing with more confidence and belief, even though the home team had more of the possession. In particular Corrigan and Buckley imposed themselves at the back and Costello and Clarke started to win plenty of 50/50 balls. On 20 minutes Adam Clarke sent Ollie through with a great ball, but the off-side flag was raised. Two minutes later the Drogs had a gilt-edged chance when Ollie got through again, but his shot was cleared.
On 35 minutes Shels attacked on the left and a seemingly inocuous cross evaded the Drogs defence and the home side were 1-0 in front. Despite this reverse, the Drogs kept the pressure on the home side and the teams went in 1-0 to Shels at half time.
Tom Reilly replaced Conor Byrne for the second half and the Drogs continued to apply the pressure and deny the home side time on the ball. Dom Mahon replaced Ken Costello on 55 minutes and his introduction gave us a bit more bite in the middle.
On 64 minutes Adam Clarke headed over from close range after great work on the left by Tom and Fionn Reilly. 5 minutes later the Drogs’ hard work was rewarded when Ollie raced through from a Clarke ball and planted the ball expertly in the corner of the net for a great equaliser. And it only took 2 minuted for the Drogs to take the lead, when one of the Shels defenders handled in the box and Fionn stuck away a superb penalty.
For the remaining 20 minutes, the Drogs held their own and created plenty of chances. Dylan Connolly made a few great saves and subs Tom Reilly and Shane Freeman, who replaced the injured Ollie with ten minutes to go, used the ball intelligently moving forward. All in all a, a great team display – on this form they should fear nobody in the group.
Ken Costello (Dominic Mahon 55’)
Ollie Hamzat (Shane Freeman 80’)
Conor Byrne (Tom Reilly 45’)