Arde Celtic’s 2nd team took the first step en route a cup double on Friday evening as they claimed the NEFL Brady’s SEAT Reserve Cup final – beating Kingscourt Harps 3rds 2-1 after extra time at the MDL Grounds.
Hugh Osborne’s goal five minutes before the end of the second half of extra time ensured Ardee Celtic didn’t need the lottery of penalties to get their hands on the first piece of silverware this season. Stuart Osbourne’s goal in the first minute had put the Deesiders in control before a late Harps equaliser in normal time.
Luck was on Ardee’s side. Kingscourt hit the woodwork in extra time as they looked like completing a memorable comeback but ahead of the Gerry Reilly Memorial Cup final – a trophy Ardee Celtic are looking to retain after success in 2016 – they did the business in Navan to edge closer to a historic cup double.
Osbourne’s goal inside the first minute but Stuart Reynolds’ men in control early on in a first half that otherwise was lacking in major goalmouth incident. Jackie Agnew did go close 26 minutes in but his shot was saved before Stuart Osbourne’s free kick went wide of the post.
Agnew was denied by the Harps stopper after being played through by Conor Osbourne before the break too as Celtic comfortably held onto the 1-0 lead until the break. On the big grass pitch at the MDL Grounds, the surface was sloping in the Ardee men’s favour after the break.
That helped as Agnew and Niall Conlon fired free kicks over in the secnd half – either side of Kingscourt’s first credible attempt on goal of the entire match. Before the equaliser, Harps forced Connolly into a save from a header whilst another chance from James Hand went wide of the post. Agnew could have scored a final goal for the annals shortly after but his 40-yard-effort bounced off the bar.
With 13 minutes on the clock, Harps equalised. The newly crowned A Reserve League champions worked the wall well out and wide and the ball across goal was converted at the back post. Hand was proving a handful, and he almost snatched the victory for Harps at the death. His shot wide meant extra-time.
Agnew and Conlon were again frustrated by goalkeeper Gerard Yorke before moments into the second period Harps saw a free kick come back off the crossbar. Those two presentable opportunities proved Kinscourt’s best chances to win the game and the cup.
Five minutes before the end, substitute Hugh Osborne was on hand to fire in after Conlon’s shot was saved by Yorke. After a league season in which Ardee Celtic’s 2nds for a long time threatened to win the Premier Reserve title – just a year after their promotion – a cup win is welcome. A double would be a sensational return.
Additional reporting by Paudi Wright. Photo: Ardee Celtic FC on Facebook