Taghmon earn cup final place
Taghmon United 2 Raheen 1
Both teams came into this Richie Dwyer Memorial Over-35 soccer cup semi-final in Campile on Saturday with league and cup double ambitions, and it was always going to be a tight affair.
The opening exchanges saw the sides approach the game very cautiously, and after ten minutes both 'keepers had seen little of the ball.
The first real effort saw a long-range shot from Jason McLoughlin fly over the bar, and shortly after a turn and shot from Dylan Whitty didn't really trouble the Taghmon netminder, but it was a shot on target nonetheless.
Midway through the half, both teams started to find a bit more space as the cautious opening gave way to more open and probing football, whilst at the same time the defences remained vigilant.
At this stage one would have wagered that a penalty shoot-out was in store, even this early on, but an under-hit pass back to a defender allowed Trevor Berry to pounce.
He beat the Raheen defender, cut inside and his low drive somehow managed to squeeze under T.J. Kielty in the Raheen goal to give Taghmon the lead.
For the neutral, this was what the game needed as almost immediately from the kick-off, Mark Lee turned, cut inside and let fly with a ferocious shot which went high and wide.
From another Raheen attack soon after, Taghmon broke up the field and the move brought them a corner. The kick was taken and challenged in the air by Kieran Kelly who then followed up the breaking ball with a brilliant volley to the net. It was 2-0 to Taghmon now and soon after the half-time whistle sounded.
The second-half saw the two teams again play cautiously for the first ten minutes, but Raheen knew they would have to push on eventually. To their credit they did just that and a great chance 15 minutes in was headed over by Ian Bolger from three yards out.
Taghmon looked very organised at the back and Raheen were finding it increasingly difficult to break them down. They did, however, pull one back on the 21st minute when a free-kick was floated across the box. The ball was headed to the net by Ollie Furlong and it was game on.
Shortly after Raheen had a great chance to level the game when the ball broke to Mark Lee but his shot was brilliantly blocked by the last-gasp defending of Ger Power.
Taghmon had now retreated and were playing counter-attacking football. Raheen had a shout for a penalty when the ball appeared to hit the arm of a Taghmon defender, but the referee wasn't interested, much to the dismay of the Raheen team.
The final minutes saw Ian Bolger dismissed for Raheen following a verbal altercation with the referee, and Taghmon United held on and will now contest the first Over-35 Cup final against the winners of Duncannon and Campile who play next weekend.