Maghery shine when it matters to see off Ramor
Monday, 31 October, 2016
AIB Ulster Club SFC quarter-final: Maghery Sean McDermott’s (Armagh) 1-13 Ramor United (Cavan) 1-10
From Joe McManus at the Athletic Grounds
First-time Armagh champions Maghery were forced to dig deep in the final stages of this low-key Ulster quarter-final to overcome a dogged Ramor challenge.
Maghery dominated around midfield from start to finish but they struggled in other areas for long periods until a scintillating final quarter which saw Stefan Forker step up and kick a couple of exquisite points.
Despite losing Adrian Cole to a black card early on and falling a goal behind, Ramor shaded exchanges in the first half with their running game causing Maghery problems.
Cole’s replacement Jack Doyle was a real thorn in Maghery’s side, kicking three points from play.
Ramor also lost free-taker Conor Bradley late on when the sides were locked together at 1-9 apiece.
It was a poor enough game until Maghery put in their high-class finish.
In that spell they went from strength-to-strength, moving with an assurance that augurs well for their last four clash with Kilcoo.
Maghery skipper James Lavery was majestic and his long-range point from play 10 minutes into the second half created a belief in his colleagues that this game was there for the taking.
Lavery was well supported by his teenage midfield partner Ben Crealey, while Gerard Campbell stood out in defence.
Ramor, who fielded eight U21 players, hung on gamely to their credit and despite being four points adrift at the end of normal time, they were able to raise their 10th white flag and then almost created an equalising goal.
In the first half, after Cole’s harsh dismissal, the Virginia outfit profited from direct running, with all their scores coming from play.
They led 1-5 to 1-2 at the break and the margin could well have been greater.
A game that was level six times was always waiting on a vital spark and that arrived when Stefan Forker kicked two great points in as many minutes to give Maghery a 1-12 to 1-9 lead with three minutes left.
Ramor attacked from the first throw-in and Bradley had them a point up after 20 seconds. Maghery replied with a goal and a point, the major cleverly dispatched by Aidan Forker after a high ball in broke kindly for him.
Within a minute, Maghery were picking the ball out of their own net, James Brady collecting a long overhead delivery from Mark McGee and beating Johnny Montgomery.
Ramor moved 1-4 to 1–1 ahead after 27 minutes, courtesy of scores from Cathal Maguire, Jack Doyle and Bradley.
Indeed, it took the Sean MacDermott’s 17 minutes to produce another score after their goal, Aidan Forker tapping over a free.
Ramor had the final say of the half with the impressive Doyle grabbing his second point.
Maghery were full of promise on the restart but their dominance failed to show on the board, until sub Seamus Forker registered with a free, followed by a massive score from skipper Lavery.
But just when Ramor were showing signs of tired legs, Doyle found the target again.
The next two scores went Maghery’s way, Stefan and Seamus Forker pointing frees to square it.
Bradley’s 48th minute free edged Ramor back ahead and with five minutes remaining the teams were joined at the hip after points were traded by Niall Forker and Kevin Mulvany, Bradley and Stephen Cusack.
Maghery then took the upper hand and two super scores from Stefan Forker and one from Seamus Forker put them three ahead.
Stephen Cusack hit the insurance point but Ramor kept at it, battling away and getting within a goal after James Bradley knocked over a free.
Maghery manager Shane McConville admitted that his team didn’t play at their normal level.
“In the first half we were dumping high balls into Aidan Forker amongst their men, just silly stuff. Our decision-making was really poor,” he said.
“However, when we got that fixed, the game opened up a bit for us and we finished strongly with some fabulous scores.”
McConville firmly believes his charges have much more to offer.
“There is a massive game in this team but I think we haven’t seen it yet,” said McConville.
“I haven’t seen Maghery really click yet and we are hoping that it is going to be in our next big game.”
Winning captain Lavery admitted that his side’s approach may have been a little too relaxed.
“It was a tough game of football, but it was a reality check,” he said.
“The boys were on a high over the past few weeks after winning their first Armagh championship.
“Ramor really made us dig deep, but full credit to the squad.
“I can’t praise Stefan [Forker] enough, he took the game by the scruff of the neck, he was showing for us every single time and kicked two vital scores when we really needed them."