Wednesday 21 February 2018

Bhoy what a success!

Stephen McGuiness challenges Celtic legend Pierre Van Hooijdonk. Picture credit: Ken Finegan
Stephen McGuiness challenges Celtic legend Pierre Van Hooijdonk. Picture credit: Ken Finegan

CELTIC won the battle of the legends in a hugely enjoyable - and more importantly, financially rewarding - encounter at a blustery Oriel Park last Saturday.

It was the home side who started the brighter and goalkeeper Allen McKnight denied David Hoey with his legs after a good lay-off from 2002 FAI Cup hero Garry Haylock. Martin Reilly then came close when he latched onto a ball from Noel Melvin, but once again the legs of McKnight saved the Hoops.

It was then that the Celtic Legends began to attack. Tommy Johnson was played in by former Dundalk assistant manager Joe Miller, but his low shot was saved by Steve Williams. Then Pierre Van Hooijdonk, all alone, headed straight at Williams from 12 yards after being picked out by Bobbi Petta on the right.

It wasn't long until the big Dutchman - who during his eight-club career netted 348 league goals in 551 games - got himself on the scoresheet. The ball broke to Van Hooijdonk on the edge of the box and after a neat first touch he delightfully chipped the ball into the top corner.

Haylock had the chance to reply immediately for Dundalk, but he headed wide from Reilly's cross. At the other end, Williams proved his worth as he brilliantly denied Regi Blinker from point-blank range.

Hoey had a wonderful effort crash off the bar 10 minutes before the break, before Melvin's long-range shot looked to be creeping into the bottom corner via a deflection, but McKnight scrambled across his goal to push the ball wide of the post.

The second half was fairly pedestrian for the opening 10 minutes, with neither side able to force an opening. Eventually Johnson had a shot for the visitors that was gathered at the second attempt by Williams.

Van Hooijdonk should have added to his tally when Johnson found him in the box, but he headed straight at Williams.

Dundalk struggled to get into the Celtic half until 15 minutes in when Reilly almost got through on goal, but Alan Stubbs recovered to clear the danger.

As the hour mark approached, Johnson's long shot whistled past Dundalk's goalkeeping coach Williams, but a deflection took it wide of his post.

As the game wore on, both sides found it difficult to pick up the pace of the game once more but in the final 10 minutes Dundalk had chances to draw level.

Donal Broughan tried to recreate his memorable goal against Finn Harps all those years ago, but his long distance free kick went just over the bar. Then Cormac Malone had a shot saved.

David Elliot had a brilliant effort come back off the post before victory was sealed for the Glasgow giants when Blinker squared for Brian O'Neil whose powerful shot flew past Williams.

The Argus

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