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Defenders light the way for cup specialists Ardee Celtic

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Ardee Celtic's Niall Sharkey in action against Muirhevamor. Photo Credit: Adrian Crawley.
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This article originally appeared on ThisIsArdee.ie

Ardee Celtic continued their remarkable cup form in 2017/18 on Friday night, claiming yet another scalp to see off Leinster Senior league outfit St Francis 3-1 at Townspark – courtesy of  first half penalty from Robbie Reynolds and goals from centre backs Oisin McGee and Niall Sharkey.

Gareth Kane was sent off just before the break as both sides played large periods of the game with 10 men but it was Celtic who made the most of their situation. Having already seen off Kilmore Celtic and St Kevin’s Boys in cup action this season, this win is the latest string to their ever more impressive cup bow. All three goals came from defenders under the lights on the Bog.

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It took the Deesiders just five minutes to hit the front against exalted company, St Francis being a League of Ireland as recently as the turn of the century. The side from Baldonnel left themselves with work do to when James McMullen was felled in the area. Full back Robbie Reynolds stepped up to lash a left foot strike into the top corner from 12 yards.

Despite the early blow, the Dubliners did settle into their task and improved as the half wore on, going close on several occasions during a hard fought first 45 minutes. The home side’s one goal advantage was in tact by the break but that was offset by Paul Burns Jnr showing a second yellow to forward Gareth Kane on the stroke of half time.

Upon the resumption, Lorcan Myles twice drew saves from the St Francis goalkeeper, after linking up well with Paul Matondo. But, despite the Dublin outfit hitting the woodwork, Conor Lynch’s side weren’t to be denied. First they were boosted when the referee levelled the scorers players-wise. The visitors saw a midfielder sent off for a high challenge on Matondo. Then, the second goal arrived.

From a corner, returning centre back Oisin McGee was completely unmarked at the back post and he sent a controlled volley over the despairing jump of the Hoops defender on the jump.

Ross Gaynor, introduced as a second half substitute, was twice denied by the visiting stopper- first after a pass from brother Darryn and then after Stuart Osbourne’s flicked header – but he did provide a telling contribution as the Ardee men but the game well and truly beyond their opponents with seven minutes to play.

Centre back Sharkey, perhaps encouraged by his defensive partner’s success earlier in the half, burst forward and latched onto an incisive through ball from Gaynor. He showed composure to touch the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper and slotted in before wheeling away to accept the plaudits from his teammates.

Celtic keeper Stuart Reynolds had been forced into making a fingertip stop to deny St Francis a route back into the game earlier in the half but he couldn’t prevent the away team from taking away a consolation goal. One of the substitutes rose totally unmarked to head in from a corner.

ARDEE CELTIC’S CUP JOY – 2017/18

  • Kilmessan Shield – Quay Celtic 1-1 Ardee Celtic
  • Kilmessan Shield – Ardee Celtic 7-2 Woodview Celtic
  • Leinster Junior Cup – Ardee Celtic W/0 Moyne Rangers B
  • FAI Junior Cup – Ballyogan Celtic 0-4 Ardee Celtic
  • FAI Junior Cup – Ardee Celtic 3-1 Kilmore Celtic
  • Challenge Cup – Kells-Blackwater 1-8 Ardee Celtic
  • Leinster Junior Cup – Ardee Celtic 1-0 St Kevins Boys
  • Leinster Junior Cup – Ardee Celtic 3-1 St Francis

Before they return to league action, there’s more cup work for Ardee Celtic to do. They face Torro United in the Kilmessan Shield on Wednesday evening while they have a trip to face Shannon Town in the fourth round of the FAI Junior Cup on the horizon. They await to see who they will face in the next rounds of the Tully Bookmakers Challenge Cup and Leinster Junior Cup.

ARDEE CELTIC: Stuart Reynolds, Graham Tighe (Ken Thornton, 85), Niall Sharkey, Oisin McGee, Robbie Reynolds (Ross Gaynor, 48), Paul Matondo, Lorcan Myles, Stuart Osbourne, Gareth Kane, James McMullen (Aaron Roche, 85), Darryn Gaynor (Brendan Matthews, 73).

Additional reporting by Paudi Wright.

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