Ardee Celtic advanced in the Kilmessan Shield in the most dramatic fashion on Sunday morning – as John Flanaghan’s 90trh minute goal secured a 7-2 win over Woodview Celtic, a five goal winning margin exactly what the Font needed to leapfrog Quay Celtic.
First half goals from brothers Darryn and Dean Gaynor, James McMullen and Gareth Kane set the Deesiders on their way before Dean added two more after the break for his hat-trick. However, the Dundalk side, despite playing the last 40 minutes with ten, hit a goal in each half to seemingly deny Celtic progress, but new player-coach Flanaghan came up trumps with time almost up.
Having started the league campaign with a narrow defeat, attentions can now turn towards picking up their first points in the Premier Division before Shield action resumes. A return of four points and eight goals in their two Kilmessan Shield games aren’t tallies to be sniffed at and after a late promotion to the top flight, a new look Celtic outfit look very capable in the early stages of the 2017/18 season.
It took just three minutes for Celtic to hit the front. McMullen provided the cross for Darryn Gaynor to head the home side into the lead. He went close to doubling his lead 12 minutes later when he latched onto a John Flanagahn ball over the top, but his volley was just wide of the target.
Conor Macken’s team found a leveller inside 20 minutes. Dean Browne found the very top corner with a free kick on the edge of the area. After conceding two goals from free kicks and another from a penalty against Bellurgan nine days ago, Celtic supporters could be forgiven for thinking indiscipline could come back to hurt them again.
Colm Matthews had to be alert to deny Woodview a chance to hit the front soon after and it was the Ardee men who edged in front. After Darryn Gaynor and first team debutant Ciaran Clarke had shots blocked, Dean Gaynor finished for 2-1.
Moments later, it was three. McMullan scored arguably the goal of the game to put the home side in control. Darryn Gaynor went close again, drawing a fine stop from Woodview stopper Padraig Gorman before, with seven minutes to play before half time, Kane got in on the act.
Darryn Gaynor showed some nifty skill to create some space and his cross across the six yard box was turned in by the 19-year-old. Just three minutes were on the clock in the second half when Dean Gaynor got his second of the game. He cut in from the left and produced a confident finish past Gorman.
The visitors were soon reduced to 10 men when Woodview’s centre back Dean Mulligan was shown a second yellow by referee Charley Pierce after tugging back on McMullen’s shirt. A one-sided affair, the 5-1 scoreline still wasn’t enough to secure their progress to the knockout stages. They needed one more. McMullen and both Gaynor brothers went close, as Darryn fired over from Eddie Burke’s centre.
With 15 minutes remaining, hopes seemed dashed however. The third-tier side made it 5-2 via midfielder Dean Hoey, meaning Conor Lynch’s outfit were left requiring two. Dean Gaynor’s hat-trick goal was a good start and ex-Dundalk player Flanaghan scored from McMullen’s last minute pass to seal progress.
ARDEE CELTIC: Declan Butler, Robbie Reynolds, Colm Matthews, Fintan Clarke, Ciaran Clarke, John Flanaghan, Eddie Burke, Dean Gaynor, James McMullen, Darryn Gaynor, Gareth Kane.
Subs: Kenneth Thornton for Fintan Clarke, Shawni Dowdall for Colm Matthews, Bryan O’Connor for Robbie Reynolds
Thanks to Paudi Wright from Ardee Celtic for providing details for this report.