Draw of no use to 10-man Duleek
Published 09/04/2014 | 05:28
IF either of these long-time MDL title contenders were hoping to secure the runners-up spot as a consolation, that scenario now looks like a long shot following this share of the spoils at The Tollstone on Sunday afternoon.
As things now stand, Bellurgan sit in third with Duleek just behind them, but second-placed Navan Cosmos need only a point from their final game to finish on the coat-tails of champions Woodview.
Bellurgan had dealt a severe blow to the title ambitions of Tony Grant's charges with a 4-1 victory in the corresponding match some weeks ago. Duleek had two players sent off on that occasion and the scoreline was a travesty considering that they were on top for most of the game.
Once again Bellurgan had to battle very hard to secure any reward and they showed good spirit to twice fight back from falling behind.
The visitors did start brightly and could have scored twice in the opening 15 minutes. Diarmuid Murphy struck the post and the ball rolled back into Keith Martin's hands, while the home goalkeeper made a great save from Daniel O'Connor.
Duleek then took the lead on the half-hour. Bellurgan expected a shot when the wind-assisted home side lined up a free kick 30 yards from goal, only for the ball to be cleverly played over the defence and sweetly finished on the volley.
Paul Savage nearly equalised with a low shot that Martin managed to keep out, before Ciaran Rogan put the visitors level. Murphy found O'Connor and he picked out Rogan who scored from 10 yards. The visitors scorned a great chance to go ahead when Savage won a penalty, and Damien Connor put it wide.
Duleek took command after the break, and twice Robert Arthur prevented them from regaining the lead, turning one effort over the crossbar and another past the post.
Grant cleverly laid on a chance for a teammate to fire Duleek back in front, but the player/manager was then dismissed for a lunging tackle.
Bellurgan's equaliser on 75 minutes was bizarre as Murphy played a ball through the heart of the defence for Darren Gaynor whose shot was saved by Martin. A defender went to clear the rebound and Gaynor blocked the ball which flew into the net.