Friday 20 September 2019

Promoted Kelly comes up trumps for Swords

PJ Murray

A very under-strength Swords Celtic side caused an upset on Friday night as they travelled to St Francis and came away with a 3-1 win.

St Francis 1 Swords Celtic 3

Niall Hudson was forced to call upon two players from the second team to make up the numbers, with Evan Kelly and Sean O'Brien drafted in literally hours before the kick-off. And then in the pre-match warm-up they lost their captain Andrew Timmons to injury, which left them with a substitute goalkeeper and one outfield player on the bench.

This match was played under lights on a pristine surface, and it was Swords who made the better start as they got in behind the Francis defence with ease.

Philly Nolan was unlucky early on as he latched onto some through-balls but just couldn't beat the keeper.

With 15 minutes played the visitors hit the front when a long ball from keeper Cian Daly bounced in front of the two St Francis centre-backs and they missed the clearance, allowing Sean O'Brien to capitalise, and he slotted the ball past the keeper.

There was a frantic six-minute period that followed the goal as St Francis battled their way back and briefly levelled five minutes after going behind.

However, straight from the restart Swords worked the ball back to Daly who launched another long ball and it took a favourable bounce, wrong-footing the Francis goalkeeper. Amid the mayhem, Barry Caulfield nipped in to finish into an empty net.

Swords continued with the route-one passing as they tried to open up what seemed to be a very shaky St Francis back four, but the visitors saw a few efforts flash just wide.

As it was, Swords took that slender one-goal lead into the break.

Hudson's team continued their form early in the second half. They persisted with their route one tactic, but it just wasn't coming off.

However, a good team move saw Evan Kelly played though and he showed great composure to make it 3-1 just on the hour mark.

The lack of available subs did begin to take its toll later on as Swords started to drop men behind the ball to see out the game.

St Francis dominated the last 20 minutes, but the back four and Daly held their own. St Francis did force a few corners and tried their luck from distance, but they were unable to get close enough to beat the Celtic keeper.

This result now means that Swords have won their last three games on the bounce as Hudson's side put a slow start to the season well behind them.

The win also sees Swords leapfrog St Francis and they move into eighth, but such is the tightness of the division there is only four points between them and the relegation places.

Hudon takes his men into a derby next weekend as they face Dublin University.

These two teams have been promoted together three years running and are very familiar with each other, so it should be a tight game.

While the University side are at the foot of the table with just one win so far this season, Hudson won't be taking anything for granted.

Fingal Independent