Ardee Celtic were left to settle for a point in their bid for promotion to the NEFL Premier Division on Sunday – as a second half goal earned Athboy Celtic a 1-1 draw at the Convent Grounds.
Title chasing Celtic had to do without forward pair Dean Gaynor and Lorcan Myles this afternoon, the latter having scored twice in the Ardee men’s last two games. Those were wins that lifted them to joint second in the league and within two points of the top.
On matchday two of the league campaign, Athboy travelled to Townparks and Ardee Celtic ran out 2-0 winners with goals from Mikey Nulty and Tristan Knowles. Here, they had to settle for a point.
Robert Taaffe was restored to the starting line-up to lead the line in Athboy and within six minutes of the start, the visitors were infront. Refere Camillus Perry awarded Celtic a free kick on the edge of the area. From Robbie McNeice’s delivery, centre back Fintan Clarke got a touch and the ball was directed a little fortuitously off his thigh and in.
The first half was stop-start. Treatment was required for Athboy duo Aaron Ryan, a January acquisition from Trim Celtic, and goalkeeper Gareth White. McNeice contested a header and clashed heads with a Athboy man leading to a bout of concussion and the left sided player being replaced.
Chances were few and far between in a game where both sides had spells in the ascendancy. The surface was bumpy and muddy – not conditions conducive to attractive, free-flowing football.
Athboy perhaps can feel aggrieved the referee didn’t award a penalty when he was caught by Paul Carrie in the area before half time. While the second half saw more bookings than clear cut goalscoring opportunities, Paul Matondo sent an effort wide of the post.
Brendan Mulligan’s header from Calum Ennis’ free kick went over the crossbar. At the midway point of the second half, Ennis grabbed Athboy’s equaliser and dented Ardee Celtic’s hopes of maintaining the pace at the top of the division. The attacker found himself one-on-one with Declan Butler and finished well.
Next up for Ardee Celtic is the visit of Navan Town to Townparks next Sunday. When the sides met earlier in the campaign, two late goals saw the spoils shared in a 1-1 draw. After today’s result, Ardee will know going one better next week is vital.
Thanks to Ardee Celtic Media Officer Padraig Wright for the additional reporting.