Saturday 20 April 2019

Steady 'Well close in on Cup Final spot

Tully Bookmakers Cup: Bellurgan United 0 Newfoundwell 2

Newfoundwell are still on course to win the NEFL Premier Division crown and Tully Bookmakers Cup in the same calendar year after coming through a stern test against Bellurgan in the latter competition on Sunday morning.

The Drogheda outfit, who lost their management team of Danny Gartland and Paul Crowley in the summer after leading them to league glory, made a poor start to the so-called short season and were never in contention to defend their title successfully, but it's been a different story in the main knockout competition.

Ray Mills' side are now through to the semi-finals where they have home advantage against Trim Celtic who are managed by former 'Well player Alan Murphy.

The 'Well clinched last season's league crown in extremely wet conditions at Flynn Park and conditions were very similar on their latest visit to the Cooley Peninsula, with heavy rain interspersed with hail showers.

Nevertheless, the pitch was in great condition and the away side settled down quickly and eventually built up a 2-0 interval lead.

Bellurgan lost one of their big players to injury around the 15-minute mark when Christian Lotefa was forced off with a hamstring injury and that seemed to unsettle them.

It was no surprise when Newfoundwell hit the front shortly after.

The ball was played out to Adam Brady on the left wing and his cross was emphatically finished by the excellent Ian Devine, planting the ball in the net from close to the penalty spot.

Newfoundwell then took another big step towards the semi-finals when they scored again just two minutes before half-time. This time the goal came from a set piece as Gaz Smith swung in a free kick from near the half-way line towards Emmanuel Santos whose glancing header helped the ball on its way to the Bellurgan net.

In fairness to the home side, they came out and threw everything at the 'Well on the restart and for a while the away side were defending desperately to protect their two-goal lead.

Ronan Brown, though, produced a smart save from a cross-shot in the 70th minute and the visitors then enjoyed a big slice of good fortune in the 75th minute.

Perhaps Paddy O'Boyle was a tad unfortunate to concede a penalty for hand-ball after raising an arm to protect his face, but there was relief for O'Boyle and his teammates when Bellurgan substitute Alan Connor sent the spot kick wide of the target.

A goal at that stage would have set up a grandstand finish, but instead the 'Well looked relatively comfortable with that two-goal cushion in the latter stages as they sealed their place in the last four of the main knockout competition.

BELLURGAN UNITED: Robert Arthur, Owen Traynor, Ray Finnegan, Aoghan McGuinness, Sean Matthews (Cian McDonald), Brian White, Christian Lotefa (Alan Connor), Tadgh O'Connor (Saheed Ogunfuworo), Shane O'Brien (Diarmuid Murphy), Owen Armstrong, Ciaran Sheelan.

NEWFOUNDWELL: Ronan Brown, Gaz Smith, Stephen Murphy, Paddy O'Boyle, Adam O'Connor, Ryan Connor, Dean Carolan, Emmanuel Santos, Craig O'Connor, Ian Devine, Adam Brady. Subs not used: Jason O'Boyle, Colm Neary.

Drogheda Independent