Blues exit cup in contentious fashion



Magherafelt Sky Blues exited the McReynolds Cup at the semi final stage following defeat to Newtowne in a game where the main talking point was the referee.

The Blues got off to an awful start and found themselves 1-0 down after 15 seconds as a hoofed clearance found the Newtowne striker behind the home defence and he slotted to the net.

Spurred on by O’Neill, the Blues began to take control of the game and Lawn missed a great chance. Murray then shot tamely at the keeper, Close was off target and Pulko had a goal disallowed for offside.

Newtowne came close to extending their lead after 25 minutes but were off target before the major talking point of the game occurred. As Pulko raced onto a through ball the Newtowne keeper came sliding out with a two footed studs showing challenge which caught Pulko. The loose ball fell to Lawn who headed towards goal with the Newtowne keeper on the ground 30 yards from goal. With a three-on-three situation Lawn drove into the area, drew a defender then passed to Close who was then blown up for offside even though there was another two Newtowne players between him and the goals.

The Blues players remonstrated with the ref and O’Neill was shown a yellow card which was followed two seconds later by a second yellow. Due to the commotion surrounding the offside decision and O’Neill’s sending off the Newtowne keeper went unpunished for his dangerous tackle on Pulko. With the Blues down to 10 men the game became an even affair with play mainly confined to a midfield battle for the rest of the half.

The Blues started the second half well and Murray just couldn’t stretch enough at the back post as the ball whizzed across the box.

Newtowne then had a man sent off as Pulko was taken out by the last man as he broke through. Pulko took the resulting free but it sailed narrowly wide. Disaster struck the Blues when Monaghan slipped and the Newtowne striker took advantage to fire home.

The Blues pushed men forward and Pulko missed when well placed, Brady headed wide from a corner and Lawn was narrowly wide. Newtowne almost scored a third near the end as the Blues were caught pushing men forward but they were off target.

The Blues will feel aggrieved at the major decision of the game going against them and O’Neill (who up to that point had been the best player on the field) being sent off. All the Blues players put in a hard shift despite some poor refereeing decisions with Pulko just edging Scullion as the Blues man of the match.

Sky Blues: Diamond, Stewart (c), Scullion, Monaghan, T. Brady, O’Neill, Lawn, Kane, Pulko, Murray, Close. Subs: C. Brady, Badger

Magherafelt Sky Blues U14 secured a conclusive victory against Portrush Youths to keep their title aspirations alive.

From start to finish the ‘Wee’ Blues were in the ascendency and they were quick to stamp their slick possession game on their travelling opponents.

The home team went in at the break three goals up and they quickly extended their lead early in the second half to open up a convincing lead.

Whilst the goals flowed in quick succession during the second half, the Blues were guilty of relaxing in the closing stages of the game and Portrush came away with two consolation goals.

There were two hat-tricks from Ryan McMenemy and man-of-the-match Joe McVey, Jamie Gribben chipped in with another two and there was a goal apiece from Rory Clarke and Zach Ferson.

The young Blues will need all of the team spirit that was on display today for their upcoming games, especially if they want to maintain their great form right to the end of the season