Gilford Crusaders notched their biggest win in recent times with a 10-1 victory over Tullyvallen Reserves in the 2nd round of the Mid Ulster Shield.
The match saw 11 goals, two hat-tricks, a brace, two penalties including an outstanding save from Keelan McKinstry.
Looking resplendent in a brand new kit, courtesy of John McAreavey, Crusaders were the favourites going into the game but were also very aware that their recent form was patchy at best.
Gilford came out of the stalls all guns blazing, Ruairi Gillen, who would not get his name on the scoresheet but would assist in 6 of Gilford’s goals, had a first minute goal disallowed for offside before Chris Magee pounced to give the home team the perfect start.
Within minutes the other Magee, Conor, doubled the lead after lobbing the keeper from 10 yards out after James McDermott had supplied a perfectly weighted pass.
Halfway through the first half and with Gilford totally in control Conor Magee got his second of the day with a casual side-foot under the oncoming keeper.
Five minutes later left back Connor Arlow, surprised himself when he connected with a Gillen through ball to score a rare goal.
The referee then awarded both teams a penalty with Tullyvallen having first go. A goal at this stage could reinvigorate Tullyvallen, but the ease with which McKinstry dove to his left to stop the ball with both hands belied any nerves the novice keeper might have felt.
Gilford then had their chance when Chris Magee was fouled twice in the box. Ignoring pleas from Conor Magee that he be allowed to go for his hat-trick, manager Stephen McArdle elected that O’Hare be the one to take the kick. Sadly the bar is still shaking from his powerful attempt which was only marginally off. Happily though, young Magee was able to celebrate 4 minutes from the half as he scored the easiest of his three.
McAreavey was finally rewarded for his hard work in the 55th minute with an easy tap in from close range. Within fifteen minutes he had expanded his haul to three goals on the day.
Tullyvallen grabbed a consolation with a shot from 25 yards out.
Despite the score line Tullyvallen never gave up. Their determination to push forward left them vulnerable at the back, allowing Gilford to ultimately run out 10-1 victors with Chris Magee scoring number nine from a McAreavey pass and Mac Aoidh scoring his first for the club with an unstoppable drive from an acute angle to the left of goal.
So a comprehensive victory but, more importantly, a consistent performance over the ninety minutes by everyone.
Next up the firsts are at home to Castlecaulfield in the league on Saturday 31st. Kick off time tbc. The reserves are away to Banbridge Town AFC Reserves in the league.