Killyleagh win ‘Kilclasico’ in dramatic conclusion

Killyleagh win ‘Kilclasico’ in dramatic conclusion

8 August 2018

HAS there ever been a more dramatic ending to a ‘Kilclassico’ derby clash than this?

The opening of the new football season could not have got off to a more sensational start as Killyleagh scored an 88th minute equaliser before Jack Sharvin produced a 90th minute winner from the penalty spot.

Remarkably, in between Killyleagh were forced to use three different goalkeepers after one was sent off and his replacement was rushed to hospital at half-time.

It was John Young’s Kilmore side who got off to a roaring start in this most hotly contested of derby encounters in the Amateur League’s Division 1A at The Showgrounds on Saturday, dubbed the Kilclassico by Linfield’s Andy Waterworth from his days playing in it.

In the first minute, Rec centre half Jack Larkin got in at the back post from a corner, but shot wide. It was the fifth minute before a nervous Killyleagh could even muster a shot with Jack Sharvin pulling the trigger.

At the other end Killyleagh had a big let off when Rec ‘keeper Chris Turley’s long up-field kick bounced off Niall Walsh’s head onto the post. It caught everyone by surprise and BJ McMenamin somehow managed to screw the ball wide of the open net from a yard out.

Jamie Sharvin was posing a threat with two efforts in succession, although all it had to show for his link up with Barry Treacy was a corner.

Kilmore were quicker to the ball, though, with Gary Stranney doing well on the left alongside Anton McGrattan, Ryan Slavin and Conal Young. McGrattan decided to push forward and try his luck in the 16th minute, but his effort was high and over.

The next goalmouth action saw Killyleagh hit the post in the 23rd minute. Stevie Kennedy picked out Jack Sharvin. He took a touch before unleashing a super strike that bounced to safety off the upright.

Young had Kilmore well organised with two banks of four, directed by Larkin, and McMenamin’s pace was causing problems up front. They got the breakthrough they deserved when Killyleagh failed to cope with the high ball in and McMenamin nipped between Walsh and Gavin Murray to steer the ball home off the post with a header from inside the six yard box after 26 minutes.

Lee Morrison then decided to match McMenamin for miss of the match when he missed an open net from three yards out from Kennedy’s squared pass.

Then came the turning point of the game. Seventeen year-old YC stand-in goalkeeper Bradford McClurg was shown a straight red card by the referee who adjudged that he had deliberately thrown the ball at McMenamin and not for a corner.

Defender Gavin Murray donned the ‘keeper’s jersey and on the stroke of half- time suffered a serious gash to his forehead in an accidental clash as he tried to recover the ball at the feet of a Kilmore attacker.

The second half was delayed as Murray was tended to on the ground. This time manager Sharvin sent for one of his subs, Kieran Sullivan, to stand between the sticks.

And that was one of the factors that made for a surreal opening 20 minutes to the second half. Killyleagh started to boss the game and even though McMenamin was pulled back into the Rec midfield to help shore it up, it was as if Kilmore forgot to come out for the opening exchanges of the second half. The intensity in their play had gone.

Remarkably, though, it was the 66th minute before either side produced a shot. It was, though, a stunning piece of skill from Killyleagh’s stand-out player Jamie Sharvin. He picked up Kennedy’s threaded pass, hooked the ball over his marker in the box and then blasted the ball past Turley. 

However, not for the first time the outstanding Larkin was in the right place and he cleared off the line.

Jamie Sharvin was becoming more and more influential with his midfield partners Darren McConnell and Ryan Blaney as Killyleagh made a mockery of playing with 10 men. 

He first set up Kennedy and then produced a pile driver from the edge of the box that was met by the save of the game from Turley. He somehow got down low to his left to fingertip it away. What a save.

Turley’s next save from YC defender Macauley Foster’s looping header may not have been as spectacular, but it was difficult and just as important. There was another goal line clearance and another super save from Turley before Kilmore produced their first attack that penetrated the home back line with Mark McMahon producing a nice turn and shot.

Killyleagh’s stand-in netminder Sullivan then produced a vital save to deny McGrattan as Kilmore started to stretch the home side. Then Kennedy was high and out of luck with two rockets at the opposite end.

With the clock ticking down it looked like it would be Kilmore’s day, but McMahon was sent off for kicking the ball away in the 87th minute and within a minute Killyleagh had taken full advantage. Morrison made amends for his earlier miss with an Exocet-like strike that was nestling in the back of the net before Turley could even move.

Then came that dramatic ending. A long ball forward to Jack Sharvin was killed by the teenager in one movement and when he was sent tumbling in the box, the referee pointed to the spot. Sharvin sent Turley the wrong way to make it 2-1 in the 90th minute.

It wasn’t over yet, though. Kennedy raced through and with only Turley to beat he was inches over. Then, when play switched to the opposite penalty box in the 95th minute, Larkin headed onto the top of the crossbar.