Square United suffered a third straight league defeat on home soil on Sunday afternoon, losing 2-3 to Kentstown Rovers at the Boys School Field – despite twice leading in the game against their visitors from Meath.
United went in front on the half hour mark as full back Derek Ratcliffe turned Paudy Clarke’s cross into his own net. Colin Walsh levelled just three minutes later before Chris Kelly sent Square in at half time with a lead. Two second half headers from Stephen Cummins meant the Ardee men were unable to stop their mini-rot.
Their strong start to the season brought wins over Johnstown and Rock Celtic and a draw against Trim Town which left them top of the table in it’s very formative stages. However, consecutive defeats against Enfield Celtic, Athboy Celtic and now Kentstown have burst the bubble on early season optimism, at least temporarily.
With the All-Ireland Final diverting attentions to Croke Park late in the afternoon, this match kicked off early and the best chance of the opening stages fell to Kelly but he was denied by the woodwork. Keith Walsh flashed a shot wide for the visitors but Square showed their threat when Jonny Sheridan and Paudy Clarke combined to release Kelly. Darren Lynch was out to smother.
Malone was forced to save from Paul McDonnell and his namesake Ronan headed over the bar as the visitors saw their fair share of the ball but the home side hit the front on 30 minutes. Paudy Clarke produced a quite brilliant left wing cross and facing his own goal Ratcliffe connected, leaving Lynch with no chance.
The lead lasted just three minutes. Square were unable to clear and tricky winger Walsh worked enough room to fire a low shot past Malone. Mark Quinn went close when his strike partner Kelly showed the defender a clean set of heels and crossed while Daire Corcoran shot into the side net at the other end.
Two minutes before half time, the lead was restored. Kelly and Clarke, who both excelled in the first half but faded later, were involved. Kelly embarked on a mazy run and fed Clarke. His cross to the back post was helped back across goal by Quinn and Kelly was on hand to tap in.
Square couldn’t find Clarke enough in the second half, which was a shame as he looked their most likely outlet. The home side were guilty of over-elaborating at times and Kentstown were happy to take advantage, looking especially dangerous down the flanks. Andy Lynch’s drive was saved by Malone and then Darren MacNeill shot wide for Square, while their were claims for handball against Lynch after a Sheridan flick-on in the area.
Square were given a let off when referee John Regan ruled out a Kentstown leveller for offside. They had cheaply conceded possession in midfield. Stefan Halpenny made a crucial block to deny Cummins and Jamie Rooney and Martin Duffy also produced good blocks as Rovers let fly towards goal in search of the equaliser.
It came on the hour. United defended a free kick but after it was hooked back into the area, big man Cummins headed in. Cummins hit the bar from a Walsh cross minutes later but with 13 minutes to play, he wasn’t to be denied again. The ball was worked well left to right Mark Horrigan produced the ball into the area and Cummins headed in.
There was little to shout about for United late on, attempts to create chances not bearing fruit. Also today, the draw for the first round of the Tully Bookmakers Challenge Cup was made. Square United will face an away trip to Meath to face BMC United. In the NEFL Reserve Cup, Square’s second string will host Navan Town.
SQUARE UNITED: Paric Malone, Killian Murray, Stefan Halpenny, Jamie Rooney, Martin Duffy, Darren MacNeill, Andy Rogers (Pearce Callan, 66), Jonny Sheridan, Paudy Clarke (Darren Henry, 74), Mark Quinn (Benny Curtis, 87), Chris Kelly.
KENTSTOWN ROVERS: Darren Lynch, Ronan McDonnell, Paul Sweeny, Shane Gargan, Derek Ratcliffe, Colin Walsh, Andy Lynch, Keith Walsh, Paul McDonnell, Daire Corcoran (Mark Horrigan, 68), Stephen Cummins.