After a well deserved break over the Christmas period, the North Louth Winter League restarted on Sunday last with four fixtures played out in wet and very blustery conditions. The weather played havoc with the games, with most fixtures turning into a battle against the elements.
Ravensdale were the visitors to Muirhevnamor on Sunday to take on hosts Castletown Knights in windy conditions in the first weekend of the New Year in the North Louth Winter League.
The away side started off quickest of the two teams. Using the wind to their advantage, they were able to create plenty of chances in the Castletown half – the first of which was a free kick just outside the box. Alan Dullaghan's effort was tipped over the bar by keeper Ruairí McCourt. Five minutes later, a free kick from the right hand side by captain Peter Mulligan was heading towards the top left hand corner only for McCourt to expertly tip over once again.
Ravensdale eventually did break the deadlock after twenty minutes when Fintan Goss chased down a long ball across the bye-line, then laid a pass back to Eddie Duffy to float a pinpoint cross to the back post where Jamie O'Hare glanced a header off the post which went all the way across goal and off the other upright, luckily O'Hare was on hand to slot the rebound past McCourt.
Ravensdale pushed hard trying to increase their lead to take into the second half to defend against the ever growing gusting wind but Castletown began to apply pressure on the Ravensdale backline with a series of corners and free kicks all of which were dealt with by the defence which stood strong. Eoin Martin hit just over from a free kick just outside the box. Moments later, Gerard White supplied a through ball behind the Ravensdale defence to Martin, who cut past the defender and the resulting shot hit the post.
Towards the end of the first half, Christopher Grimes produced a clever flick into the path of Daniel Nowak who came close to equalising for the Knights. The final chance of the first half for Ravensdale came when O'Hare lofted a ball to the back post to the unmarked Goss but again McCourt's outstretched hand deflected the ball away from the reach of Goss.
Into the second half and Castletown now with the wind at their backs secured the majority of the possession with Christopher Grimes in midfield and Gerard White on the left wing at the heart of every attack for the home side.
Ravensdale made changes midway through the half and the introduction of the lively Declan Sharkey and debutant David Crilly helped Ravensdale against the wind to become more menacing on the counter attack and with Goss now up front he nearly doubled his sides lead but twice he was to be denied by McCourt, firstly a low blocked shot after Goss had controlled brilliantly from a Sharkey cross. Then a fine one handed save, low to his left after Goss was put through by Crilly.
With fifteen minutes remaining, Micheal Crilly broke free through the Castletown defence and faced one on one with McCourt. He poked the ball past the keeper only for the very impressive McCourt to reach back and somehow stop his effort short and keep his side in the game.
Castletown looked to punish Ravensdale for not killing the game off sooner and were nearly rewarded when a low corner was nearly put into his own net when Mulligan's slice clearance was goal bound but was instinctively saved by the alert Stephen McShane in goals. Ravensdale finally doubled their lead when they were awarded a penalty with five minutes remaining when Goss was taken down after being played in by Sharkey. Alan Dullaghan stepped up and duly converted to seal the win for Ravensdale and secure all three points in tough conditions.
Best for Ravensdale were: Micheal Crilly, Peter Mulligan and Eddie Duffy. For Castletown, Ruairí McCourt, Christopher Grimes & Gerard White played well.
Rampart Celtic 2
Carlingford Celtic Youths 0
The conditions on Sunday morning in Hiney Park were not conducive for football, with a gale force wind and heavy showers impinging on the game. In a game that could have went either way, the pitch was in decent condition but was very soft in parts and cut up badly towards the end of the game.
Rampart's enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half, and limited the Youths to only a few chances. Ramparts took two of their chances well in the opening period. The first goal came when David Buckley played a neat ball though to his brother Gavan. His perfectly timed run saw him lose his man and calmly slot the ball past the advancing keeper. About ten minutes later Rampart's second came by way of a great strike from outside the box from their captain Eamon Gosling.
The second half saw Carlingford play with the huge wind and they came at Ramparts as expected. The Ramparts defence held strong, however, and David Lynch in their goals was quick to claim any high ball into the box. With no real clear cut chances throughout the half, the game finished at 2-0.
Bay Utd 1
The league's second placed team, Bay Utd, lost further ground on leaders Greenfield this past weekend as they could only come away with a draw against a resolute Edentubber side that have proved to be a very tough team to beat, particularly at home. Like many of the other games this past weekend, the weather was detrimental to any sort of football that may have been played as the game played out with a lot of stoppages as the ball seemed to be over the touchline more than it was on the pitch!
The first half saw very little in the way of chances for either side, but the game came to life in the second period, when only minutes in, Shane Moore scored his fourth goal of the season to give Bay the lead. It looked like they would hold onto this lead and get their title challenge back up and running after a cruel 1-0 loss to rivals Ravensdale in a back fixture played over the Christmas period, but like so many times in the past, Edentubber were not to be discounted as they produced an equaliser with less than five minutes to go through Barry McKevitt to continue their fine home record for the season.
Carlingford Celtic 1
Although played on the all-weather surface in Oriel Park, a strong wind hampered both teams throughout the game.
Although the Carlingford side had a few chances during the game, Annaloughan were deserved victors with goals coming from Aiden McCann (2), Gerard Donnegan and Paul Murphy. Carlingford struck back through Sean Donnelly but it was too little, too late. Annaloughan now boast the longest current unbeaten record in the league that stretches to eight games. A couple of key fixtures in the upcoming weeks may see Annaloughan challenge the leaders for League honours.
Faughart conceded a walkover to league leaders Greenfield this past weekend, which means they stretch their lead to seven points over Bay Utd and Ravensdale, who join them on twenty three points after their victory over Castletown this past weekend. Ramparts and Annaloughan are lurking just behind with 21 and 20 points respectively and they cannot be dismissed as there are still nine games to go.
This weekend's fixtures:
Faughart v Glen Utd
Annaloughan v Ravensdale
Edentubber v Greenfield
Castletown v Rampart Celtic
Carlingford Youths v Bay Utd