FIXTURES- First Team – LEAGUE - Sat 12th November 2pm – Oxford United Stars v Magherafelt Sky Blues
Under 11 -LEAGUE – Sat 12th November 11am - Magherafelt Sky Blues v Dungiven Celtic
Under 13 - LEAGUE - Sat 12th November 11am – Derry Colts v Magherafelt Sky Blues
Under 14 -LEAGUE – Sat 12th November 11am - Magherafelt Sky Blues v Coleraine Academy
Under 16 – LEAGUE – Sat 12th November 11am - St Mary’s v Magherafelt Sky Blues
Reserves - LEAGUE – Sat 12th November 2pm – Grange Rangers v Magherafelt Sky Blues Reserves
Under 10 – FRIENDLY – Wednesday 16th November Mid Ulster Sports Centre 7pm – Magherafelt Sky Blues v Loughgall
All players are requested to check the Blues website for the latest training details.
Results- Firsts – LEAGUE – Dungiven Celtic 1, Magherafelt Sky Blues 2
Reserves – LEAGUE – Balymoney United Reserves 5, Magherafelt Sky Blues 3
Under 16 LEAGUE – Magherafelt Sky Blues 3Armagh City 3
Under 12 LEAGUE –Magherafelt Sky Blues 3, Limavady United 4
Under 13 LEAGUE – Carniny Youths 3, Magherafelt Sky Blue 0
Under 14 LEAGUE – Foyle Harps 6, Magherafelt Sky Blues 1
The13th and 14th Magherafelt Sky Blues Ground Development Lotto has been drawn for the new season. No one matched the correct numbers. The £25 lucky dip winner for week 13 was Rachel Balfour. The £25 lucky dip winner for week 14 was Ronnie Caskey
Tickets are on sale for next Saturday’s draw from all committee members. The jackpot is now £450
Magherafelt Sky Blues will send two (10 aside) teams to Cookstown for the next seven weeks to take part in the McDonald’s Skills Centres.
The first session begins this week at the Mid-Ulster Sports Centre. This is for all players born in 2002 with a couple of 2003 players also allowed to take part. Match location - Mid-Ulster Sports Centre. Players to meet at - 6pm at Spires Park. Match kick-off time - 7pm. Pick up time for parents - 8.30pm. Cost per player - £3 Equipment - please make sure you have your own socks, shorts, shin pads, shirt and football boots on. Please wear something warm as the weather will be unpredictable. Two teams will be selected from the following squad of 20 players. If you are unable to play please text 07870 578593 so another player can be drafted in. 1. Curtis Ewing, 2. Niall Bateson, 3. Ryan McMenemy, 4. Aaron Donnelly,5. Caolan Crozier, 6. Daniel Robinson 7. Jon McAllister, 8. Jarlath McWilliams, 9. Ross Spears, 10. Shea McGuckin, 11. Aidan McCluskey, 12. Ryan Lennox 13. Conleth Mallon, 14. Joe McVey,15. Sean O’Neill, 16. Michael Mullan, 17. Matthew Cowan, 18. Jamie Gribben 19. Rory Clarke, 20. Diarmuid Walls, 21. Alex Porter
The excitement that is the U12s continued today at Spires Park. The Sky Blues took on Limavady, their old rivals from last season, and came out on the wrong side of a 4-3 score line. The ‘Wee’ Blues were fastest out of the blocks and were the better team in the first ten minutes. But it was Limavady who opened the scoring from the penalty spot following a naive push in the box by Pearse McLarnon. Two minutes later the away team were two goals to the good following a blistering drive from wide on the right, which was just too powerful for the despairing Caolan Coyle to clear off the line. At this point the young Sky Blues team were struggling to cope with the physical superiority of their opponents, but man-of-the-match Pearse McLarnon played with the heart of a lion to drag the Sky Blues back into the game. s. Limavady extended their lead further just before half time with a bullet shot from the edge of the box which Jack Bresland had no chance of saving. The home team deservedly pulled one back ten minutes into the second half, Pearse McLarnon powered past two Limavady players in the centre of the pitch and played a great ball wide to the talented Ciaran Shields who took the ball in his stride cut inside and finished superbly to give the ‘Wee’ Blues some much needed hope. Then half way through the second half Aaron McKee burst into the box from the right hand side and under pressure from two Limavady defenders went tumbling in the box, penalty to the Blues. Up stepped Alex Doherty who pulled his shot narrowly wide to his obvious despair. This knocked the stuffing out of the young team and Limavady went straight up the pitch to score as the Sky Blues were still recovering from the penalty miss. But the momentum was with the home team and this team loves to attack. Eunan Mulholland slid a great ball through to Alex Doherty who slammed the ball past a stunned Limavady keeper. This was the tonic the young player needed following his penalty miss, and you could see the extra spring in his step following his goal. But it wasn’t to be, there just wasn’t enough time to complete the comeback. The Sky Blues U16’s kept their unbeaten run in the league this season with a sensational second half performance that left them wondering how they didn’t get all three points. A very well drilled and strong Armagh City team took to the Meadowbank pitch in confident form and went 2 - 0 up after 10 minutes following two defensive blunders.
The Blues shrugged of these errors and started to peg back a resolute Armagh defence. Desmond McColgan should have scored from a couple of yards out but the keeper scrambled to save. Chances were going a begging for the Blues until McColgan poked in a rebounded shot to make it 2 -1. On the half time whistle Armagh made it 3-1 from a corner.
All credit to the Sky Blues as they rallied at the start of the second half and Sky Blues captain Jake Taylor pulled a goal back firing past the keeper with a fine right foot drive. Taylor and Johnny Connolly started to take control of midfield and the equaliser came when Connolly made the bye line with an exquisite run, fired in a low cross which McColgan finished with precision.
Michael Lynch came close as Taylor played him in with a superb pass over the top of the defence but again Lynch’s effort was thwarted by the keeper. McColgan also came close on a couple more occasions as did the hard working Aidan Doyle. New signing for the Blues Johnny Douglas made his debut for the club and really shook up the City defence, the big imposing player fought hard, his physical presence and nifty footwork was very hard to deal with. After a nervy first half the Blues defence of Dillon Fitzpatrick, Conan McAleese, Luke McAllister and Connor McErlaine got their act together and never give the Armagh strike force a sniff of goal in the second half. This result leaves the Blues 5 points behind league leaders Armagh but with 2 games in hand so its all to play for.
The Blues travel to Lurgan for a game against St Mary’s next Saturday
Magherafelt Sky Blues travelled over the Glenshane to take on Dungiven in the Intermediate League and following a hard fought battle came away with the 3 points from a venue that is always extremely difficult to get anything.
The first half began with both teams striving to get the upper hand with a lot of play in the middle of the park. With the defence looking solid the Blues began to trouble the Dungiven backline and gain the upper hand in midfield where Hawe and McGuckin were getting through a mountain of work.
After 17 minutes the Blues made the breakthrough when under pressure from Monaghan the Dungiven defender lost the ball to Hawthorne whose shot was blocked but fell to Devlin who calmly picked his spot and finished to the bottom corner. After this the Blues were well on top and 10 minutes later Devlin scored his 2nd when he got between keeper and centre half to out jump both and head in.
Dungiven tried to get back into the game but apart from a few dangerous set pieces the Blues backline were well on top. Hawthorne was crudely up-ended which resulted in a yellow card for the Dungiven number five. Shortly after this Beattie was through 1 on 1 with the keeper but his shot lacked power and direction. However, he chased his shot and as he reached the ball was fouled by the Dungiven number five but the referee ignored the penalty claims even though it looked stonewall. Minutes later Beattie was once again crudely fouled by the Dungiven number five who once again escaped a second yellow card and the half finished with the Blues 2-0 up.
The second half began with Dungiven applying pressure on the Blues rearguard but as with the 1st half the Blues were defending comfortably with everything. The game was now being played mainly in the Blues half now as would be expected as Dungiven being the home team had to try to get back into the game. Mid-way through the half Dungiven pulled a goal back with a once in a life time wonder strike which gave Gillis no chance.
Gillis had to be alert shortly afterwards as an in swinging corner appeared to be net bound but he managed to turn it onto the post and away to safety. The match had now become end to end with Dungiven striving for an equaliser. McGuckin then broke away but was thwarted by a wonderful tackle from the Dungiven defender.
The nearest Dungiven came to equalizing was a weak shot which Gillis saved comfortably.
Another good and fully deserved win with Gillis only having 2 saves to make and no chance with Dungiven’s goal, the defence very solid in front of him, midfield generally on top and the front line always a threat.
Martin had another fine game at the heart of the defence but was over shadowed by Monaghan who was a unanimous man of the match winner.
Team; Gillis, Scullion, Walls, Martin, O’Kane, Hawe, Monaghan, McGuckin, Devlin, Beattie, Hawthorne; Subs; Mallon, Niblock, Cassidy
Sky Blues U11s travelled to Coleraine for their sixth league outing this year.
The bright start required by the Blues did not happen, instead they started slowly and the opening minutes saw possession changing hands frequently. During the next 10 minutes both sides had opportunities with Ewan Smyth in the Blues’ goal coming quickly off his line to collect several through balls.
Sky Blues looked very comfortable at centre back with Pat Shivers and Johnny McErlain strong in the tackle and holding their positions well. The main Blues’ threat came from Thomas Shea Maynes feeding the excellent Conleth McGuckian who was always busy and a constant threat going forward. It wasn’t long before Conleth’s work rate paid off and on 17 minutes, following a clever run and pass from Eoghan Hawe,
Conleth shot home from 15 yards to give the Blues the lead. Sky Blues then began to dominate possession but couldn’t find a way through the resolute Coleraine defence with Coleraine breaking dangerously several times. However, on 29 minutes from a quick throw taken by Shea McSorley, Fergal McKenna turned and hit an unstoppable shot into the net from 20 yards for Blues’ second.
Although they were two up at half time, more work rate and urgency was required from the Blues. They started the second half much brighter and 2 minutes in, a good run and shot from Conleth McGuckin produced a good save from the Coleraine keeper. On 38 minutes a good counter attack from Coleraine lead to a corner which Cahir Glass cleared with an excellent header. Sky Blues then got their passing going with Shea McSorley bringing the ball out from the back and linking well with Eoghan Hawe whose pace was a constant threat.
Sky Blues then made a substitution bringing on Aiden McCluskey, who had an immediate impact with his pace and work rate. Finn Diamond was excellent in front of the back four, breaking up Coleraine attacks and linking well with the Blues’ midfield and on 50 minutes he scored the Blues’ third with a left foot volley. Kevin Nicholl and Rhys Totten then came on for the Blues. Two minutes later a Sky Blues’ counter attack started with an excellent pass from Pat Shivers to Eoghan Hawe on the left wing.
He sent Ethan Doherty through on goal and Ethan finished low into the bottom corner for Sky Blues’ fourth. Sky Blues continued to press and on 56 minutes Kevin Nicholl cleverly sidestepped a challenge on the edge of the box to break clear and fire home into the bottom corner for Blues’ fifth. This was a satisfying result, especially the clean sheet but the Blues need to be more clinical in front of goal especially in the early stages of games.
Man Of The Match : Conleth McGuckian
The Sky Blues U14 unbeaten run ended with empathic defeat to Foyle Harps by 6 – 1. The score line gave no justice to a Sky Blues performance in which they dominated the first half against a team tipped for the title. The game was played in cold and slippery conditions at a floodlit Moyola Park.
The young Blues got off to a dream start, opening the scoring in under 2 minutes. Bradley headed powerfully forward from midfield to McCluskey whose first time pass put Monaghan through on goal. Showing skill and composure, Monaghan lifted the ball over the keeper to find the net.
Foyle Harps responded strongly, hitting the post from range after 6 minutes. Harps were always a threat on the counter and Cassidy saved brilliantly after 9 minutes, leaving his line quickly to deny, and watched a close range drive go wide a minute later.
Sky Blues fought to keep the momentum, with Bradley and McCann commanding in midfield. After 12 minutes, Monaghan struck a dangerous corner into the Harps penalty area, McCann meeting the loose ball on the half-volley but striking over. Bradley in turn was unlucky not to score from distance, his well struck drive forcing the keeper to save and spill.
Devlin and Hunter provided strong resistance on the left side, Devlin not afraid to try his luck from distance with his trusty left foot.
On the right side, McCluskey and Kelly showed tremendous “pass and move” understanding to torment and penetrate the Harps defence. After 21 minutes, Kelly went on a mesmerising run to find Kerr on the edge of the box who blasted wide. MSB’s domination and missed opportunities came back to haunt just a minute later when a high drive from the right side slipped through Cassidy’s hands into the net. 1-1
Suddenly the wind was in the Foyle Harps’ sails, with MSB struggling to regain their composure as they saw out the half.
Sky Blues started the second half brightly, McCluskey showing pace and penetration down the left.
Then after 11 minutes, FH took the lead after penetrating the left wing, finished off by a great strike from distance into the top right hand corner. 2-1 to the Harps.
Foyle Harps pushed forward again, causing all sorts of problems down the left side. McCann whose work-rate was excellent on the night, cleared off the line after 13 minutes. . Then after 19 minutes, the game turned on a cruel twist of fate for unlucky goalkeeper Cassidy, when a header slipped through his hands. 3-1
With 15 minutes to go, the heart had been knocked out of this brave Sky Blues side. Foyle Harps simply fed off this dejection, forcing Sky Blues errors and playing fantastic, direct football. After 21 minutes it was 4 – 1, following a midfield mix-up and loss of possession.
The steady and ever-reliable McFetridge made a vital interception and clearance after 24 minutes. But one minute later, after an incredible run down the right wing, it was 5 -1. Foyle Harps were now in free-flow, nearly scoring but for Cassidy’s one-armed save. The introduction of the energetic duo of Doherty and Maguire did not stem the flow, and Foyle Harps added a sixth just before the final whistle.
This was a cruel night to inflict the worst result of the season. Even the Foyle Harps management team acknowledged the game of two halves, reflecting on the severe pressure they endured from Sky Blues in the first half. But football is a confidence game and can turn on a moment of inspiration or despair, whichever Lady Luck decides to cast your way.
The “great” are separated from the “good” by how they respond to these setbacks. As manager Monaghan said post-match, “good players don’t become bad players overnight” and what matters is that each player finds something to take away from the game that they can improve upon next time.
Man of the match was shared by two players whose work rate was outstanding throughout. McCann was a colossus in midfield, digging in with the defence and penetrating with the attack. McCluskey showed tremendous movement and hunger, great first touch and control and his speed was always a threat to the bigger Harps defenders.