Write off Bellurgan at your peril!
BELLURGAN United gave their answer to those who doubted they were genuine title contenders with a convincing win over the defending champions in this top-of-the-table clash at Flynn Park last Sunday morning.
They beat the Rock 5-3 on their home patch earlier in the season and perhaps didn't gain the credit they deserved on that occasion, with arguments advanced that they might have caught the champions on the hop as they were in the process of changing managers.
However, there was no such excuse on this occasion. Rock couldn't have come into the game in better fettle after defeating their main rivals last season - Duleek - the previous Sunday, and they hadn't tasted defeat in the league since losing to Bellurgan.
But apart from the first 20 minutes there was only one team with the hunger to win and that was Bellurgan, and they wouldn't have been flattered if they had won by a wider margin, with a hugely disappointing Rock failing to muster any meaningful response in the second half after going in 3-1 down.
Bellurgan took the lead in the opening 10 minutes when Gavin Long prodded home from close range after Darren Gaynor knocked down a corner.
Rock equalised on 15 minutes, with Kevin McArdle rounding off a fine team move, but that was as good as it got for Rock, as Bellurgan got completely on top during the remainder of the half.
They regained the lead, also from a corner kick, with just over 20 minutes elapsed. Gaynor again got a touch, and this time Ciaran Rogan applied the finish from close range.
An audacious effort by Daniel O'Connor, who spotted the Rock goalkeeper John Rogers off his line, extended the home side's advantage minutes later. The midfielder struck a free kick all the way from yards inside his own half, high over the goalkeeper and into the top corner of the net.
Rock never really recovered from this double blow. They created a couple of half chances in the second half without really threatening, and Ciaran Sheelan sealed victory with his side's fourth goal 20 minutes from time.
The home side won the ball with Rock on the attack and fed Ciaran Sheelan on the wing, and he turned two defenders and slammed a shot into the top corner of the net from 14 yards.
Bellurgan had a couple of chances after that to extend their winning margin, but 4-1 was more than enough and in wrapping up the win they closed to within a point of leaders Woodview.
Bellurgan: Robert Arthur, Owen Traynor, Jason Brennan, Diarmuid Murphy, Stephen Malone, Daniel O'Connor (Johnny Winters), Gavin Long (Ciaran Casey), Ciaran Rogan, Shane Finnegan (Paul Savage), Darren Gaynor, Ciaran Sheelan.
Rock: John Rogers, Paddy Reilly, Aidan Sheeky, David McGeough, Cormac McArdle (Chris Connolly), Paul Gore (Niall Walsh), Kevin McArdle, Mark McGeown, Paddy Quinn, David Ward (David Asare), Derek Delany.