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The Ardee derby: How the last six were won

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Andy Rogers (Square United) tangles with Lorcan Myles of Ardee Celtic. Photo Credit: Paul O'Conor.
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This article originally appeared on ThisIsArdee.ie

After coming so close to promotion last year, Tuesday’s announcement that Ardee Celtic were to replace Navan Cosmos in the 2017/18 North East Football League was greeted with delight at the Townspark outfit with many considering it reward for an outstanding season last year.

Now, the Font must prepare for their league kick-off later next month. They officially get their new season underway against fellow top tier side Quay Celtic in the Kilmessan Shield next Wednesday. But while their promotion to the top flight of the NEFL marks a superb acheivement, it does mean that for a year at least – cup draw permitting – there will be no Ardee Derby with fierce local rivals Square United.

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When the sides met twice a year, it guaranteed to draw a big crowd. Always hard-fought, the derby brought goals and incident every time, with no exceptions. The last six meetings between the sides in league and cup saw 33 goals and six sendings off.

With no scheduled derby to look forward to in 2017/18, ThisIsArdee.ie looks back on the last six derby meetings in the NEFL second tier and cup competitions.

March 26th 2017 – Square United 2-3 Ardee Celtic

The last meeting of the sides was played out on a glorious spring afternoon with the pitch at the Boys School Field in fine condition as Ardee Celtic came from behind to complete a memorable derby win and keep their promotion attempt on track in the process. Andrew Egan – so often a thorne in Ardee Celtic’s side – gave Square a half time lead.

However, Celtic struck back through a Robbie Reynolds free kick and goals from substitutes Robert Taaffe and Darren McMullan. The latter was an especially brilliant volley. Mark Quinn replied as Square pushed for an equaliser at the death. In front of a massive crowd in Ardee town, this game lived up to it’s billing and the usual fare of goals and entertainment aplenty.

September 25th – Ardee Celtic 3-3 Square United

Remarkably, neither game between the teams last season saw a red card brandished – in stark contrast to previous meetings. But there was lots of goals in Ardee derbies, with six at Townspark in September as the local rivals clashed. Ardee Celtic came into the game unbeaten in their opening four games while Square had taken four points from their first four matches themselves.

Stefan Halpenny challenges Stephen O’Brien in last September’s 3-3 draw.

Stephen O’Brien’s header got the home side off to the perfect start but Square shot back to take a 3-1 lead minutes into the second half. A brace from Egan and another from Brian Corcoran gave them the two-goal cushion that should have been enough to see them over the line. However, defensive deficiencies reared their head.

Robbie Reynolds’ long range effort flew over Vincent Clinton and in to reduce the deficit before Gareth Kane got the slightest of touches to a Reynolds delivery, helping the ball past Clinton for 3-3.

Feb 21st 2016 – Ardee Celtic 4-2 Square United

The third and final meeting of the sides in the 2015/16 campaign came in the last 16 of the Tullys Bookmakers Challenge Cup in February lasy year. Then, Trevor Molloy’s Ardee Celtic had a James McMullen hat-trick to thank for ensuring their progression to the next round – where they ultimately made their exit.

As per the norm, this game wasn’t lacking in the needle and feistiness so associated with derby encounters down the years. In fact, the match didn’t even last 90 minutes. After six goals and three sendings off, the referee blew up five minutes early with Ardee Celtic two goals to the good.

James McMullen (centre) was the star of the show the last time the two Ardee sides met.
James McMullen (centre) was the star of the show when the two Ardee sides met in February 2016.

Ryan Dillon’s early backheel put the home side ahead before a Brian Corcoran double swung things in Square’s favour. McMullen, Ardee Celtic’s star man over the course of that season, stole the show with a second half hat-trick. Jonny Sheridan, Fergal Diamond and Darren Henry were all red carded for Square as the game ended in farce.

January 31st 2016 – Ardee Celtic 3-0 Square United

Just three weeks earlier, the clubs had met at Townparks in their second league encounter of the campaign. Bookmarked by two goals early and late in the game, the game provided enough thrills and spills to have those in attendance more than glad they made the trip to the Bog.

An early Paul Matondo penalty gave Ardee Celtic the advantage before the impressive McMullen doubled the lead with a freekick. Minutes before the end, substitute and debutant Ryan Dillon finished from close range.

An Ardee derby wouldn’t an Ardee derby without a dismissal – or more. Niall Eccles was sent off for Celtic while Jamie Rooney was shown a straight red card for Square too. A three goal defeat could have been worse for Square had it not been for the performance of Paric Malone in goal.

Pauric Malone made plenty of saves as Square were soundly beaten 0-3.
November 1st 2015 – Square United 2-4 Ardee Celtic

Local bragging rights mean a lot in these parts. That was no more apparent than 11 months ago in the first Ardee derby of the 2015/16 campaign. A huge crowd assembled at the Boys School Field (below), an indicator if one was needed that the big game in Ardee means just as much as ever.

There was a big crowd at the Boys School Field for the first derby of last season.
There was a big crowd at the Boys School Field for the first derby of last season.

Those who were there, were treated to a entralling encounter. As ever, goals and cards were plentiful in supply. It didn’t take long for Ardee Celtic to break the derby deadlock – and they did so in farcical fashion. Robbie Reynolds forward ball from halfway floated all the way in.

Alan Kirk equalised shortly afterwards but Reynolds’ scored a stunning second to restore the visitors lead. Former Legaue of Ireland star Trevor Molloy made it 3-1 with a low free-kick before James Carberry got in on the act.

Brian Corcoran scored the games’ final goal as Square put a semblance of respectability on the scoreline. It was tough for them in truth, with Darren Henry having sent off early in the second half.

February 8th 2015 – Square United 5-2 Ardee Celtic

While Ardee Celtic have had the better of things in the last three encounters, you don’t have to go too far back to find Square dishing out some punishment to their near neighbours.

At the Boys School Field, a hat-trick from Dean McLoughlin and a brace from Derek Minogue ensured a comprehensive victory for Square, then under the stewardship of Jim McLoughlin.

Graham Tighe and Andrew Tinley replied for Ardee Celtic. Celtic finished comfortable in mid-table but disappointingly off the play-off places that term, while Square were mathematically safe from the drop by the end of February.

 

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