Sports

Ruthless result for Rathfriland in season opener

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

RATHFRILAND Rangers got the new season off to a disappointing start when they were comprehensively beaten by a ruthless East Belfast side in the opening NAFL premier Division fixture.

East Belfast...3
Rathfriland Rangers...0

The Whites travelled to East Park on Saturday expecting a tough clash with the newly-promoted city men, who have strengthened massively in the off-season.

Both sides are expected to be among the mix for the league title come the end of the season and the game was a chance for one to steal an early advantage over the other.

And new East striker, Danny McKee proved to be the difference, with his hattrick handing the home side all three points.

Aaron Black took his Whites to Belfast with six players - including three guaranteed starters - missing and their absence told.

In a bland first half, the East held possession well and spent much of the time inside the Rathfriland half, although clear-cut chances were few and far between and the visitors defended well.

The half was instantly forgettable but that changed in the second period and it was in the second 45 minutes that the East came to life.

McKee was a constant threat and his off-the-ball runs caught the eye throughout the game.

For the opener, his lethal pace took him clear on the Whites' backline before he turned Daryl Evans the wrong way and calmly slotted the ball past Shane Harrison in the Rathfriland net.

With the clock ticking towards 80 minutes, McKee added another, breaking clear once more and rounding Harrison before applying his finish.

Former Glentoran and Ards striker McKee then capped a dream debut for his new club when he netted his hat-trick goal.

His speed was the difference yet again, and he lifted the ball over Harrison before beating Evans to the ball in the six-yard box to bundle it over the line.

The game was gone when young Shea Fitzpatrick, making his debut for Rathfriland, added a bit of spark to his side's perfor mance.

First, he floated a wonderful cross towards Darryl Kernohan lurking free at the back post, but the forward shanked his volley well wide.

And Fitzpatrick took on the next opening himself, his audacious curling effort just passing by the outside of the post.

The defeat was a sobering one for the Rangers and they will hope that the return of some of those missing on Saturday will spur them on to chalking up their first win of the campaign, when they travel to Derriaghy CC on Tuesday night.

Rathfriland Rangers: Shane Harrison, Jack Graham, Daryl Evans, Ryan Clydesdale, Jonny Black, Mark Teggart, Graeme Edgar, Ross Black, Gary McDermott, James Costello, Darryl Kernohan.

Subs: Adam Bronte, Shea Fitzpatrick and Jonathan Scannell.

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