Newry played their final home game of the season on Saturday when they hosted Camlough Rovers at a sunny and well attended Showgrounds. In what was a well contested affair, it was Sean McMullan who sent the Newry support home happy by heading the only goal of the game five minutes from time.
The game took a while to warm up as the opening half settled in to a pattern where Newry enjoyed plenty of possession but struggled to create any clear cut chances. The City midfield were probing for openings and looking to release Mark Lowry and Keith Johnston to link up with McMullan, but they were kept at arm’s length by a well organised Camlough defence. Newry struggled to find the crucial final ball, over-elaborating at times, and for all the huffing and puffing, blocked shots and corners won, Barry McKeown in the visiting goal was generally untroubled. That would change in the second half.
Indeed for all Newry’s possession, it was Camlough who created the best opening of the half, just before the break. Joe McDermott whipped in a dangerous cross from the right hand side of the box which sub John Grant headed just over the Newry bar when well placed.
For all that the first half was mildly diverting, the second moiety was where we’d find the real action. On 50 minutes, a long ball from Chris McMahon caused hesitation in the Camlough rearguard and Sean McMullan nipped in between defenders and goalkeeper but lifted his shot just over the crossbar.
Camlough responded with their best effort of the game, just before the hour mark, when they broke quickly and worked the ball to Declan Monaghan inside the area. The big striker got his shot away but Peter Murphy did well to divert the effort around the post.
Newry were soon back on the attack and on 65 minutes McMahon released Walker who shot low but was denied by a good save from McKeown. From the resulting corner McKeown failed to clear under pressure and the ball fell to Ian Curran who couldn’t keep his shot down, the ball going over the bar.
Newry had upped the ante and were now enjoying a real purple patch. They went close again within minutes when McMahon found Lowry who cut inside and released Keith Johnston who looked set to score only to be denied by a stupendous save from McKeown.
Next up, Paulius Smaryginas sent a raking ball to the feet of Jimmy Walker on the left and his cross was met by McMullan whose bullet header cannoned off the bar with McKeown, for once, well beaten.
Newry could have been forgiven for thinking it was going to be one of those days, and it almost got worse for the home side on 81 minutes when Camlough, who had looked to be on the ropes, showed they still had a part to play with Monaghan drawing another fine save from Murphy after a good break.
The game was getting stretched as it entered the closing minutes and it was Newry who finally fashioned the goal that their play deserved in the 85th minute. It was Mark Lowry who set Walker in on the edge of the box and the midfielder showed good skill to get his shot away only to be denied by another great save from McKeown. Lowry, however, did well to recycle the ball and sent in a cross to the back post where McMullan bravely headed home from close range. The big target man was scoring for the fourth consecutive game and it was due reward for another hard working display in leading the line.
Newry had a chance to secure some breathing space on 88 minutes with Johnston’s deft effort which drew another fine save from McKeown, but one goal was enough as City played out the remaining minutes in relative comfort.
With only a trip to Tandragee to come, on May 5th, Newry brought down the curtain on another season at the Showgrounds where manager Darren Mullen will have been pleased to secure 27 points from a possible 33. He knows that the key for next season is for Newry to transfer this excellent form to their travels where they have struggled at times this season. The recent morale boosting wins over Tandragee and this game have hinted at better and Mullen will know exactly what is required if Newry are to take the next step.
Speaking after the game, manager Darren Mullen stated that, “we knew going into this game that we would have to match Camlough for effort and determination. You have to earn the right to play football and whilst we certainly didn’t do that in the first game out in Camlough we did on Saturday. The whole team were superb and we really should have scored a few more but for some great saves by their keeper. We were defensively solid restricting Camlough to very little and our pace in attack was always a threat. I questioned the players character after that first game and they have responded in the right manner. Hopefully we can finish the season positively in our last game away to Tandragee.”
Newry City AFC would like to thank match day sponsor Newmay Electrical Services and Paul Mulholland for his continued support and attendance at the match.
Man of the Match: Rian Hand
Newry City AFC: Murphy, S Hand, Curran, R Hand, McCaul, Smaryginas (Durnin), Walker, McMahon, McMullan, Lowry, Johnston. Subs not used: Fay, Courtney, O’Connor, Edgar.
Camlough Rovers: McKeown, S King, J King, Lennon, K Moan (Kane), G Moan, Murphy (Grant), McDermott, Massey, Morgan, Monaghan. Subs not used: Hughes, McKeown, Quinn.