Ardee Celtic extended their unbeaten record in cup competitions this season as they hit Kells-Blackwater for six at The Grange this afternoon, beating the Division 1 side 8-1 in the Tully Bookmakers Challenge Cup.
Lorcan Myles, James McMullen and teenager Bryan O’Connor were all at the double in the comprehensive win while Ross Gaynor and player-coach John Flanagan were also on the scoresheet as the Deesiders secured progress in their fourth knockout competition of the campaign.
Conor Lynch’s outfit have already won in the Kilmessan Shield, Leinster Junior Cup and FAI Junior Cup in 2017/18 and their eight goal display in Kells on Sunday meant they remain in contention on five fronts.
The hosts have struggled in Division 1, having picked up just one win in seven outings so far this term. A strong Ardee Celtic team, fresh from dumping Kilmore Celtic out of the FAI Junior Cup nine days earlier, put them to the sword – taking just three minutes to take the lead.
After McMullen had an early shot saved by Daryl Murphy, Gaynor hit the net. He took a touch from Gareth Kane’s pass and slotted neatly under the Kells goalkeeper for his second goal in two senior appearances since his return.
Myles doubled the lead six minutes later. He connected with Gaynor’s corner at the near post to hand his side a comfortable lead. McMullen notched the away side’s third just before the half hour mark but before then, both sides went close.
Murphy denied Kane with a good stop before Myles failed to really test the stopper with a tame effort. At the other end, Kells showed their threat. Flanagan had to be alert to deny Andrew Arkines and Edan McKay shot over the bar.
After Kane’s foul, Oisin McSmith’s foul was headed over by James Reilly and Arkines went again close to reduce the arrears befoe McMullen struck. Kane beat the defender and delivered a low ball across the box. Gaynor dummied and McMullen had time to control and fire in.
All but over at the break, the hosts at least came out for the second half with a renewed purpsose. Within minutes of the restart, McKay capitalised on a ball over the top of the Celtic defence to finish past Samson. Then, Arkines forced the goalkeeper into a save.
Myles second was arguably the goal of the game. He beat Cian McManus and found the top corner with a well hit effort that left Murphy beaten all ends up. McMullen got his own second on 65 minutes. Again, Myles and Gaynor were involved. Their shots were saved and blocked respectively. Striker McMullen reacted quickest for 5-1.
Flanagan rose highest to head in Gaynor’s corner less than two minutes later as the Font started to run away with it. Lynch used the opportunity to give some of his youngsters’ some game time. Bryan O’Connor made the most of his chance, hitting the net twice in four minutes.
Afford two one-on-one chances, the 16-year-old twice beat Murphy to make it 8-1.
ARDEE CELTIC: Robert Samson, Kenneth Thornton, Fintan Clarke, John Flanagan, Mikey Nulty, Eddie Burke, Paul Matondo (Ciaran Clarke, 60), Ross Gaynor, Lorcan Myles (Darren McMullen, 71), Gareth Kane (Shawni Dowdall, 71), James McMullen (Bryan O’Connor, 71).
Thanks to Paudi Wright from Ardee Celtic for additional reporting.