Raphoe finally got points on the board after a much improved performance at The Royal and Prior school grounds on Saturday.
Raphoe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Campbellians . . . . . . . 2
Raphoe 1st XI Men are undoubtedly having a difficult season. A lack of goals and several games slipping away from them has meant that they haven't recorded a victory in the first half of the season. After the highs of last season, it was always going to be hard to match that level two years on the bounce. But they have started 2017 very positively and will be looking to kick on from here now.
The game may well have been called off if not for the huge effort put in by a group of club members and locals. Like most pitches in Ulster, the high Raphoe pitch was under a layer of snow and ice on Saturday morning. But some machinery, brushes and a lot of hard work, left the pitch playable and in great shape for the 2.30pm start.
Emotions were high at the start of the game as Raphoe knew that this was a must win game against a side sitting directly above them at the bottom of the table. A few nerves may have been the reason behind the home side conceding a short corner early on. Campbellians capitalised on this and took the lead with a well executed drag flick. 1-0 Campbellians.
The home side dusted themselves off though and got back into the game immediately. They dominated possession and started to create a few chances. Luke Witherow fired over the bar on the reverse and Tommy Orr saw a defected effort saved. The deadlock was finally broke midway through the half when Alan Meehan struck home at the back post. Some good work on the right by Alexander Tinney, found Witherow on the base line. Witherow cut inside and got his head up well to pick out Meehan, who finished coolly.
The home side pushed on at this stage and took the lead before halftime. John Watt who had an excellent game was the one to pick out Witherow this time on the right. The young forward yet again beat his man to get inside the circle, before squaring the ball across goal. Tommy Orr couldn't get on the end of the elevated pass but behind him captain Ian McGonigle showed his usual composure and finished into the bottom corner. 2-1 to Raphoe at the break.
Raphoe were pleased with a much improved performance, but knew they had to find another gear or risk allowing the Belfast side back into the game. Early in the second half Keith Meehan showed some lovely ball control to win his side a penalty corner. Tinney made no mistake from the top of the circle with a well placed drag flick.
Campbellians had several chances from short corners but keeper Jonny Rankin was back to his best, making several important saves. Despite having a lot of possession, Raphoe had to remain cautious as a 3-1 lead is very little in the modern game. They put the game to bed in the final ten minutes however, again from a penalty corner. This time a well worked effort involving several players was finished off by Tinney for his brace.
Campbellians showed a great attitude however and kept battling, pulling another one back in the last minute. Again another well finished drag flick from a short corner. The game finished 4-2 to the home side.
Raphoe have no game scheduled next week and then are on their travels, away to North Down.
Raphoe: Johnny Rankin, Alan Meehan, Alexander Tinney, William Kilpatrick, Luke Witherow, Keith Meehan, Ian McGonigle, Evan Lyttle, William Wauchope, John Watt, Simon Goudie, Paul Stewart, Tom Eaton, Tommy Orr, Ian Witherow, Richard Eaton, Richard Tinney