A Josh McIlroy double secured a McReynolds Cup victory for Ballynure Old Boys in Dunloy at the weekend.
Both goals were scored in the first-half by McIlroy before the north Antrim lads staged a second-half recovery, but still lost 2-1.
This season the trophy is being played off in two sections in a round-robin basis, so Gary Burns’ lads pocketed the three points, going in to the second round of fixtures.
Manager Burns had to make several enforced changes to last Saturday’s squad owing to David Officer, Mark Curlett, Simon McGreevy, Simon Gibson and Andy Forsythe being unavailable for a variety of reasons, but their deputies all stepped up to the plate.
With Mark Moore and Michael Duff linking together effectively in centre-midfield, the ‘Nure lads had the edge in the opening quarter, and were rewarded when Barry Penny, Duff and Ross McFall worked the ball out of defence for McIlroy to nod in to the net.
Dunloy, surprisingly, created very little so that keeper Ronnie Burns had a comparatively easy time in the first half behind a solid defence well marshalled by centre-half Mark Leckey.
Robert Houston, just back from America, played an influential part up front, and he won the ball in the air to set up a chance for McIlroy to double the lead.
The hosts applied some early pressure after the break and reduced the deficit from a penalty following a foul by Gareth Curlett. But that was as good as it got.
Indeed, it was only the brilliance of the home keeper that prevented Duff and Houston from increasing the lead.
“We played some of the best football of the season despite having to make so many changes, and fully deserved the win,” said the club’s chairman, Michael Graham.
“Michael Duff was outstanding in midfield, while Mark Leckey was a tower of strength at centre-back, despite playing out of position,” he added.
Ballynure OB: R Burns; Penny, Robinson, Leckey, G Curlett; McFall, Duff, Moore, Higgins; McIlroy, Houston. Subs: Harbinson, Taylor, McClurg, Gray.
This weekend Ballynure host Desertmartin (2 pm) and a win for Gary Burns’s men would see them jump two points above their opponents, with two games in hand.