McNamara and Murray strikes send Olympic into raptures

McNamara and Murray strikes send Olympic into raptures

5 December 2018

TWO goals in a mesmeric three-minute first half spell proved decisive as Ballynahinch Olympic secured their place in the Christmas showpiece final against Crumlin Star.

Strikes from Niall Murray and Chris McNamara had Olympic purring, but they took their foot off the gas after the break and nearly threw it all away.

Orangefield huffed and puffed for most of the second half, but a determined Olympic restricted them to a solitary strike from Vitalis Ogunwa in the 76th minute. 

There wasn’t much to write home about in the opening exchanges, but Olympic looked the more comfortable in possession with their fluid and ambitious 3-3-4 formation.

Orangefield had the first shot in anger when William Gracey had a shot from the edge of the box well blocked by the impressive Chris Magee. Owen Peden then had a header blocked as Orangefield had penalty appeals for hand ball waved away.

Stuart Nelson had a shot comfortably saved by Ryan Walsh as Orangefield probed for an opening, but Olympic were nor for yielding.

However, the east Belfast side committed a cardinal sin by ping their guard and affording the roaming Murray and Nathan Jones far too much space and time on the ball.

Jones served notice of intent in the 23rd minute when he was picked out totally unmarked on the right side of the box, but he contrived to screw his shot badly wide.

Three minutes Ryan Molloy instigated one of Olympic’s trademark moves when he released Murray. Without even having to look up to see his options, Murray immediately fed Jones, but Glenn Taylor denied him with a parried save.

With 27 minutes gone and Olympic in the middle of a power play, Jones again found space down the right and played an angled pass in behind centre half Jonathan Doey that  was latched on to by Murray and he beat Taylor all ends up with a sweet strike.

It was 2-0 three minutes later. A sweeping pitch-length move, started out on the left by the immaculate Dalton Tate, ended with Chris McNamara, who was involved in the build-up, converting a sublime pass from Jones. 

Jones could easily have made it 3-0 in the 31st minute, but his well-struck shot was tipped round the post by Taylor. Jones then played a brilliant ball into the path of Murray, but he was denied by an alert Taylor who rushed off his line to intercept

Taylor saved from McNamara at the start of the second half, but Olympic strangely retreated into a defensive shell with Jones being starved of possession and Murray and McNamara being forced to live off crumbs.

It was at this stage of the game that Ryan Noade really started imposing himself on proceedings and he revelled in providing protection to his back three with numerous, telling tackles and interceptions where it mattered.

Orangefield were seeing much more of the ball, but they were never able to hurt Olympic.

If anything, Olympic still carried a greater goal threat with Jones having a free kick blocked and Stevie Noade flashing one wide after Jones threaded the ball into his path.

Orangefield managed to reduce the arrears in the 76th minute when Ogunwa beat the offside trap inside the box and drilled an unstoppable effort past Ryan Walsh.

Despite applying intense pressure, Orangefield never looked like equalising and with the 90 minutes almost up, Olympic hit them on the break only for Murray to blast wildly over the bar with only Taylor to beat.

Ballynahinch Olympic: Ryan Walsh, Chris Magee, Ryan Noade, Conor Reid, Jason Noade, Dalton Tate, Stevie Noade, Niall Murray, Nathan Jones, Ryan Molloy, Chris McNamara. Subs: Callum Dougan, James McClean, Shane Murray.

Orangefield OB: Glenn Taylor, Dean Blair, Nathan Coulter, Richard Hamilton, Jonathan Doey, Dean Cousins, Stuart Nelson, Scott Brannigan, William Gracey, Vitalis Ogunwa, Owen Peden. Subs: Curtis Stewart, Jonathan Boyd, Simon Johnston.

Ballynahinch Olympic 2

Orangefield OB 1