Veteran Derek Donoghue’s second half goal proved the difference between Ardee Celtic and Trim Celtic at Townparks on Sunday afternoon as the Deesiders fell to their first defeat of the North East Football League Premier Division season.
Missing a host of senior players – Darryn Gaynor, Fintan Clake and William Woods chief among them – and with key man Paul Matondo still working his way back to full fitness, the two Celtic’s played out a hard-fought if forgettable encounter on the Bog. Donoghue fired in from a corner nine minutes into the second half to beat the Ardee men.
With the Font’s season opener loss to Bellurgan United to be replayed, this was just their second game and first defeat of a fledgling season. The sun was out at the club’s Townparks ground for the visit of Trim Celtic, but the football on show didn’t exactly warm the hearts of those in attendance.
The visitors – with Dean Courtney prominent – were getting down the flanks but for their possession, the Ardee back four of Reynolds, Thornton, player-coach Flanaghan and Ciaran Clarke – were offering little in the way of change. The Trim bench did call for a spot kick when Flanaghan and Courtney collided in the the area. They cried elbow, but the veteran was simply too strong.
The home offside trap was working well and James McMullen had the best chance of the first half for Conor Lynch’s side, but his shot was easy for Danny Connell. The best moment of the opening 45 was when Donoghue beat Thornton to the ball and fed Courtney. Declan Butler denied him and then Paul Munnelly shot over.
The opening goal arrived on 54 minutes. Donoghue peeled off to the back post to meet Courtney’s corner. He took a touch and blasted into the net. The goal set Trim on their way to a third win in four league games and while Ardee Celtic tried to get back into the game, their efforts were in vain.
McMullen forced Connell to tip over a free kick after Myles was fouled. Sub Matondo spun away from his man in midfield and he released Graham Tighe but he got his finish all wrong. Flanaghan was pushed up front late on as Celtic reverted to a back three with ten minutes remaining. Frees and goal kicks were aimed at him and in fairness, he won his fair share as the hosts looked to get a break.
His late header was caught by Connell but only after Butler was forced into a fine double save. – first from Donoghue and then as Clarke’s interception rolled towards his own goal. The draw for the Tully Bookmakers Challenge Cup was made earlier today. Ardee Celtic were handed an away trip to Kells/Blackwater in the first round. Their reserve team will play Trim Celtic’s reserves while Frank Dowdall’s thirds will play away to Kilmessan in the NEFL Reserve Cup.
ARDEE CELTIC: Decan Butler, Robbie Reynolds, Kenneth Thornton, John Flanaghan, Ciaran Clarke, Mikey Nulty, Eddie Burke (Graham Tighe, 64), Paul Carrie, Lorcan Myles (Shawni Dowdall, 88), Gareth Kane (Paul Matondo, 67), James McMullen (Bryan O’Connor, 88).
TRIM CELTIC: Danny Connell, Ciaran O’Connell, Cyril Halton, Eoin O’Connor, Keith Jones, Sean Fitzgerald, Paul Munnelly (Daryl Kelly, 57), Jack Murray (Anthony Craig, 82), Cillian Corcoran (Gary O’Connor, 90), Derek Donoghue (Brian Faulkner, 54), Dean Courtney (Ruairi Short, 73).
REFEREE: Colin Halligan