THE big North Tyrone derby clash at Páirc Mhic Sioghair on Sunday afternoon past saw Aghyaran St Davog’s travel to the Ballycolman venue in search of a win to avoid the dreaded relegation battle… and this they achieved much easier than the final score might suggest. It was a high scoring affair with Strabane trailing at one stage in the first half by 11 points as the visitors threatened to run amok.
The away side began well with Benny Gallen seizing an early opportunity to take advantage of a poor clearance in the Strabane defence to hit the first goal of the contest in the opening minutes.
Eoghan McHugh and Gallen quickly added on points from play before Strabane opened their account on 12 minutes via a fine score from half-back Ryan McElroy.
Aghyaran then took total control of the game and threatened to steamroll the home side, Benny Gallen hit two long range points from play with Ciarán McGlinchey and Eoghan McHugh also firing over points.
On 17 minutes Paddy McNulty hit the St Davog’s second goal when he latched on to a fine ball from Benny Gallen.
Strabane, now trailing by 11 points, rallied just before the interval with Seamus Breslin finding the visitors’ net following good work by Haydn McNamee and substitute Mark Roarty, whilst Ryan McElroy fired over a fine point from play as the first half neared conclusion.
The second period commenced with Strabane seizing the early initiative with Haydn McNamee immediately registering a point from play and just minutes later a long ball into the forward line from Danny McBride saw Warner Mullen fist the ball to the visitors net to reduce the deficit to just three points.
However, Aghyaran then hit a purple patch when they hit 1-4 without reply stopping Strabane in their tracks.
Ronan McNamee, on one of his darting runs from midfield, hit Aghyaran’s third goal following an assist from Eoghan McHugh, and he also sent over two super points from play whilst Ciarán McGlinchey and Brian Penrose weighed in with a point apiece.
Both sides then traded points with Danny McBride on target for Strabane and Ethan McHugh for Aghyaran.
Strabane, to their credit, refused to lie down and were rewarded with points via Rúairí Gormley and Haydn McNamee, although Ethan McHugh with a good point from play increased the visitors’ lead to nine pints with just five minutes remaining.
The home side rallied late on with points from Martin Mongan and Haydn McNamee and Mongan then scored Sigersons’ third goal when he fisted a long ball from Danny McBride into the Aghyaran net. Deep into injury time, Strabane were awarded a penalty which Rúairí McElroy blasted over the bar for a point as Aghyaran held out for a fully deserved three points win.
The win for Aghyaran is a major boost in their relegation battle whilst Strabane could yet be involved in a play-off depending on results in their final two games and elsewhere.