Square United got their 2018 off to the perfect start on Sunday afternoon – sealing their place in the last 16 of the Tully Bookmakers Challenge Cup by seeing off third tier Reedemer Celtic in Ardee.
Daire McConnon and Kian Moran scored the Square goals in the first half and United maintained their lead after the break as they secured their progress to this stage of the NEFL cup competition for the first time since 2016, when they lost out to Ardee Celtic.
Sunday’s win has set up the possibility of another Ardee derby in the cup competition – a second in three seasons. Ardee Celtic’s home match against Virginia Celtic scheduled for last Friday night was postponed due to a bereavement.
The draw for the second round – after Square required extra time to see off BMC United 5-2 in round one back in October – landed the Ardee side a tricky encounter against in-form Redeemer.
The Dundalk outfit are enjoying a fine debut season in the North East Football League – with Stephen Bellew’s side just a handful of points off the summit of Division 2. They are well in the race for promotion to join Square in Division 1 next term.
However, their hopes of springing a Challenge Cup surprise on Sunday was dealt a blow as Gorman Park was deemed unplayable meaning the fixture was moved to the Boys School Field in Ardee. There, Square won their second straight home fixture to send the Dundalk men home disappointed.
Early strikes from Daire McConnon and Kian Moran, both of which were first of the season for their respective scorers, had Square two up inside 16 minutes and sealed the win for United despite Celtic putting up a good account of themselves. They’ll be disappointed that two mistakes lead to the Square strikes.
SQUARE UNITED: Paric Malone, Killian Murray, Daire McConnon, Stefan Halpenny, Martin Duffy, Darren MacNeil, Kian Moran, Jonny Sheridan, Andrew Egan, James Clarke, Aaron Kerley.
Subs: Paudy Clarke, Trevor Matthews, Cian Halpenny, Evan Farrell.