Square United extended their unbeaten run to four games with a five-star show on Sunday morning as the Ardee men put Redeemer Celtic to the sword with a prolific second half display, their best of the campaign to date.
Andy Rogers bookmarked the scoring with the first and last goals, with efforts from Robert McNeice, Jake Gillespie and substitute Jamie Rooney sandwiched between. In a feisty game that at times threatened to spill over, referee Paul Rooney showed six yellow cards in the first half alone.
The victory is a second in nine days for Square and means they now sit third in the cup qualification group just two points off leaders Carrick Rovers with four games to play. The mid-Louth side climb above Redeemer, who had come into the game fresh from a 4-2 win over Newtown.
Rogers’ first goal arrived shortly before the break, towards the end of a first half notable for a glut of opportunities that the home side passed up to score and the frequency with which the official chose to brandish his card.
Square had missed a penalty early on, too. Aaron Kerley was bundled over by Redeemer full back Martin O’Brien when attempting to run onto Martin Duffy’s ball into the area. The latter’s spot kick was down the middle and saved by the legs of Ray McCann, who had dived to his left.
Kerley then scooped over from the resultant corner and moments later, Duffy unleashed a piledriver that was set to nestle in the top corner, if not for McCann’s intervention.
Redeemer had their own chances. Ryan Duffy’s goalbound effort was blocked on the line by Stefan Halpenny while Paddy O’Connell headed a corner over.
Duffy then broke into the area, with Square calling for an offside, but in a good position, he drilled a shot across goal and wide of the the upright.
McCann was called into action again to tip over Tristan Knowles half-volley and then Kerley shot over when in space in the area. From a Knowles corner, Rogers headed in at the back post to hand the home team a deserved lead at the interval.
Kevin McCormack had the second half’s first attempt but the Redeemer winger fail to keep his curling shot on target. Seconds later, Square doubled their lead. Duffy’s cross had enough pace on to allow McNeice to sweep it beyond McCann first time. His run was perfectly timed and the Celtic stopper had little chance to keep it out.
Youngster Jake Gillespie cut inside from the left and shot wide but, undeterred, he soon made it 3-0. Following a smart pass from Knowles, he composed himself before curling a shot inside the far post. Redeemer went from competitive to listless in the blink of an eye.
Eddie Burke made three changes in quick succession and goalkeeper Pauric Malone was forced into a decent save from O’Connell’s free kick, diving to his left to palm away from danger.
The fourth goal arrived when Mark Quinn played in Richie Rogers. He squared for Jamie Rooney, who finished from close range.
There was still time for Rogers’ second. He ran beyond the Celtic defence and slammed the ball in from an angle to compound the visitors misery and provide the perfect platform ahead of Square’s clash with Ardee Celtic next Sunday in the 40 Year Commemorative Cup.
Wayne Conroy’s side travel to Cavan to face Bailieboro on Friday evening.
SQUARE UNITED: Pauric Malone, Andrew Egan, Stefan Halpenny, Killian Murray, Martin Duffy, Andrew Rogers, Tristan Knowles (Chris Kelly, 79), Robert McNeice, Aaron Kerley (Jamie Rooney, 81), Jake Gillespie (Richard Rogers, 77), Mark Quinn.
REDEEMER CELTIC: Ray McCann, Tiernan Moran, Martin O’Brien (Gavin Coffey, 57), Chris Caulfield, Andy McDermott, Abraham Olewale, Sean Quigley, Kian McEvoy, Kevin McCormack, Ryan Duffy (Garreth McArdle, 46), Paddy O’Connell.
REFEREE: Paul Rooney