Lurgan Town u15’s got a break from league action this week in a 3rd round tie in the NIBFA cup travelling to Belfast to meet Shamrock FC Youth on their home turf. Shamrock came into this game on a great run of form cruising through the first half of their season unbeaten in all competitions. Some of the boys played against this side in the national league in previous seasons under their former title of Ardoyne FC so they were only to aware of how tough a game this was going to be. Lurgan started the game well with very little between the two sides in the opening stages. Shamrock opened their account after about 15 minutes when a Town clearance was unfortunate to come back off a Lurgan player and land in the path of the Shamrock striker who made no mistake. This allowed Shamrock a bit of a cushion to settle and play their football with Town players feeling a little hard done by to be behind at this stage in the game. With the wind in their sails Shamrock began to claim more control of the game with quick pressing when not on the ball, and and sharp quick passing when on the ball. Town kept plugging away but for a period it just seemed as though nothing would go right for them which was made even more difficult with the slick passing and driving runs of the Shamrock side. Shamrock’s second and third goals came before half time and Town were finding they were being forced to play most of the football in their own half.
A small shuffle and a change at half time lead to Town looking in much better shape at the beginning of the second half, forcing the issue further up the pitch, and the Lurgan boys got themselves back in the game when a Ben Cullen corner was thundered home off the head of Adam Vennard through the arms of the helpless opposition keeper. The opposition team didn’t appreciate the resurgant Town side and began to introduce a different side to their game. Where the first half was good and physical the second half became physical and dirty with kicks and elbows throughout the remainder of the game leading to 2 Town players having to be withdrawn directly through injuries obtained through continuous fouling and a local referee who certainly seemed reluctant to upset the home line. The Town players to their credit did not back away from the challenge and kept plugging away despite the frustration at the lack of protection from the official in charge. It was Shamrock who secured the all important next goal which basically killed the tie and rounded off soon after with another to finish the game at 5-1 and Town exiting from the Cup.
Disappointing to lose any game but todays result came against the best team this young side have met this season, Shamrock were strong, well organised and played some great football and deserved the result today, it was just a pity to see the other side of the game creeping into their play. It wasn’t needed and left a couple of Town players with visual memories of the game on legs and ankles. Frustrating that local officials can’t protect young players which could easily have been done if nipped in the bud early enough. We wish Shamrock all the best going forward in this competition while Town get back to league action next week against Fivemiletown hoping to carry where we left off last week.
Team: James Hamilton, Sofian Mouhsine, Kyle Thompson, Adam Vennard (1), Mark Christie, Aidan Cassidy, Ben Cullen, Tom Leatham, Ethan Gorman, Josh Johnston, Ronan Watkins, Mackenzie Craig, Spencer Young, James Maguire