McGrath gives boss his first Rangers win

A first-half hat-trick from Darren McGrath gave John Kernaghan his first win as Rathfriland Rangers boss, defeating Rasario 3-1 at Iveagh Park.

McGrath netted two goals from open play and a penalty to notch his first hat-trick for the club and despite Eamonn Carlin scoring one for Rosario, the Whites were on top from beginning to end.

The win saw Rathfriland leapfrog their opponents into seventh position and the top half of the table.

McGrath and fellow striker Ally Wilson both could have scored within the first few minutes as Wilson hit a close-range shot straight at the Rosario keeper Michael Magee and McGrath sent an effort just wide.

Rathfriland only had to wait until the ninth minute for the game’s first goal. Ally Beck had a shot from range blocked, McGrath gathered the loose ball and fired it left-footed into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Just five minutes later he scored another. After breezing past two defenders, he was brought down by Sean McGonigle inside the box. McGrath stepped up himself to take the penalty and sent the keeper the wrong way.

Wilson could’ve had his first goal since his return to the club but his powerful drive was turned over the bar.

And Rosario were handed a lifeline on 26 minutes. A heavy backpass put goalkeeper Kieran Maguire under pressure and he scuffed his kick. Anto Kavanagh collected the ball and played it in to Carlin who converted.

But less than two minutes later, the two-goal lead was restored when Ryan Evans played in a low cross which McGrath put in through Magee’s legs with a first-time finish for his hat-trick.

The second-half was a more bland affair but McGrath almost scored a fourth, heading just wide.

For Rosario, Carlin sent an overhead kick just over the bar and in the dying moments he had a goal disallowed when he kicked the ball out of Maguire’s hands before he scored. The highlight of the second-half was the introduction of Rathfriland’s new signing Thomas Lockhart. The young forward - who has had a spell with Irish Premiership side Crusaders - was a major hit during his time at Moneyslane where he was a regular scorer, and although his appearance from the bench was brief, his pace, touch and set-piece delivery show that Kernaghan has made a shrewd acquisition. Rathfriland travel to face Barn Utd on Saturday.