WOODVIEW Celtic overcame a disastrous start to dish out another trouncing to relegation-threatened Carrick Rovers and boost their hopes of another MDL title.
Carrick, whose squad has been decimated by emigration, gave the champions a rude shock by taking a two-goal lead in the first 10 minutes, after the start of the game was delayed for more than half an hour as an alternative referee had to be obtained.
But in the end they were overpowered as Billy Smith grabbed a hat-trick, Mickey O'Kane and Owen Armstrong each scored a brace and Stephen Grimes also shared in the goal feast at Glenmuir Park on Thursday night..
The champions were more than a little rattled in the early stages as Barry Conlon, the much-travelled striker who finished out last season with Dundalk, notched up one of the visitors goals with a superb effort to give them a dream start.
Home goalkeeper Padraig Gorham and defender Alan McCartney each received a yellow card following a bizarre incident, but equilibrium and smiles were restored to the home camp by the break, despite full-back Paul Warnock having to retire due to injury. Grimes reduced the deficit and Billy Smith turned the scoreline in Woodview's favour with a brace.
O'Kane equalled that feat with two goals early in the second half to put the champions in firm control, but a plucky Carrick fought back, with Conlon tapping into an open goal after a chance had been laid on a plate for him.
Indeed, indecision in the home defence could have resulted in him grabbing a hat-trick and putting the outcome back in the melting pot.
But instead Owen Armstrong stretched Woodview's to three goals again when he swept the ball into the net from close range after John Smith's shot was parried by the Carrick goalkeeper.
Smith then completed his hat-trick, and Armstrong rounded off the scoring, and with four games remaining the champions are right in the hunt to make it a hat-trick of titles.
Their run-in comprises three away games, with a return meeting with Carrick and trips to Kentstown and fellow title contenders Duleek, while their lone home game is against the other main contenders Rock Celtic.