Tuesday 25 June 2019

It's Dee-light in league decider

Soccer: Dundalk Schoolboy League U-15 title play-off - Quay Celtic 1 Ardee Celtic 4

The Deesiders recorded a surprisingly easy win in this play-off for the Under-15 title arranged by the clubs at the Muirhevnamor Astro pitch just before Christmas.

James Rogers led a three-goal first-half spree by Ardee, and within a minute of the restart he completed his hat-trick to consign Quay to their first defeat of the domestic season, and ensure that Ardee became the unofficial champions.

The clubs finished level on points at the end of a gripping campaign in which both contenders refused to yield an inch, and that was no more evident than in a thrilling see-saw 3-3 draw in Ardee in November when Quay levelled with a last-gasp penalty.

Last season the sides were also involved in a play-off, which Quay won on the way to completing the double in the Under-14 League, as they also captured the cup.

Key players affected by sickness didn't start for Quay, but Ardee also had their problems in that some 10 squad members had played a Gaelic match that afternoon.

It was only in the second half, with little more than pride at stake, that Quay performed to anything like the level of their capability and they were rewarded with a fine consolation goal by Ciaran Walsh.

However, the game might have taken a different direction had Kieran McArdle not wasted two golden scoring opportunities, missing the target on the first occasion with only the Ardee goalkeeper in front of him as he burst into the box during the first half.

Rogers almost instantly took advantage of his side's second let-off when Cillian Taaffe cut in along the endline on the left and laid the ball back for his teammate to sweep the back low into the far corner of the net.

Five minutes later Rogers broke completely free on the other side of the box and his hard-hit low shot from a tight angle flew past the diving Quay keeper.

This two-goal burst sent Quay reeling, and virtually on the stroke of half-time they went 3-0 down when Daniel Clinton's powerful drive was parried by the Quay goalkeeper and Aaron Levins swept the rebound into the net.

Quay's position became irretrievable when Rogers' long-range shot eluded goalkeeper McArdle at the start of the second period.

McArdle made two great saves when Rogers and Sean Reynolds each broke clear of his defence later in the half.

The introduction of Scott Hearty and Ryan Coleman at the break lifted Quay, and they combined to make a clear-cut opening for Ciaran Walsh which he sent over the crossbar.

However, Walsh made no mistake after Gustas Pupelis beat three players with a delightful mazy run in the Ardee penalty box. Goalkeeper Halpenny parried his stinging shot, but Walsh tucked away the rebound.

Overall, the clearly better side on the night ran out convincing winners and they can look forward with confidence to extending their successful run in the National Cup as they are due to meet Limerick side Galbally in the last 32.

Ardee Celtic: Shane Halpenny, Tadgh Kellett, Mathew Kane, David Magee, Jack McKeever, Ryan Halpenny, Oisin Lynch, Aaron Levins, Daniel Clinton, Cillian Taaffe, James Rogers, Jamie O'Callaghan, Adam O'Reilly, Jamie Durnin, Noel Coyle, Sean Reynolds.

Drogheda Independent