independent

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Swords hopes take a 'Nock'

Senior Division Sunday: Swords Celtic 0 Portmarnock 1

Paul Byrne

A last-gasp goal from Jake O'Connor gave Portmarnock's new manager a winning start while also putting a huge dent in Swords Celtic's survival hopes at Balheary last Friday night.

Robbie Flanagan succeeded Willie O'Leary last week and the new boss oversaw a victory for Porto in his first match in charge, which moved his new side up to fifth in the table.

This local derby had more than usual at stake, with Brendan Kennedy's side desperate for the win which would move them out of the relegation zone.

Swords have been in the danger area for weeks now and with games quickly running out they knew that victory here could prove crucial to their chances of staying up.

To their credit they dealt with the pressure well early on, with Eoin Jones and Andrew Timmins seeing plenty of the ball. The game's first real chance fell to them as well as Johnny Lyons burst through on goal, only for a slightly heavy touch to give Brian Kane in the Porto goal a chance to smother his effort.

Porto came back with a chance of their own on the quarter-hour mark as a free kick into the Swords box saw Graham Rusk rise highest before heading just over the bar.

Swords spurned a glorious chance to break the deadlock mid-way through the half, with Eoin Jones somehow missing from just three yards out.

Anthony Burke burst through and took the ball around the keeper before shooting towards the goal. His goal-bound shot was somehow cleared off the line by a Porto defender but went straight to Jones who scooped the ball over the bar when it seemed easier to score.

The second half saw Swords continue to press forward in search of a goal, but they weren't having it all their own way, with Porto looking dangerous on the counter and from set pieces. Eighteen-year-old Rory Walsh was enjoying a fine debut for Portmarnock and he went close to giving his team the lead, with his header going just over the bar.

Swords brought in talented teenager Jack McGlade in an attempt to add a bit of guile to proceedings and the youngster almost delivered immediately with a mazy run which saw him beat a player before cutting inside and unleashing a fierce shot which struck the inside of the post before rolling along the goal-line and away to safety.

It was cruel on McGlade who really deserved better after such a fine run and shot.

Swords were really pushing hard now with just 20 minutes to go and they went close once again, with Anto Burke testing Brian Kane in the Porto goal with a shot from close range.

The match looked to be heading for a stalemate until Portmarnock earned themselves a corner in the 94th minute which was only half-cleared by the Swords defence. The ball was struck from outside the box, and although saved by Stephen Trimble initially the ball fell to Jake O'Connor who finished well with a lovely dinked effort to steal all three points for Porto at the death.

It was tough for Swords to take after a good performance, but they must regroup ahead of a season-defining game against St Patrick's CY FC tomorrow evening (Wednesday). St Pat's lie just one place and two points ahead of Swords and anything but a win for Brendan Kennedy's side could spell the end of their fight against relegation.

Swords Celtic: Stephen Trimble, Gavin Logan, Craig D'Arcy, Sean Kelly, Graham Duff, Johnny Lyons, Eoin Jones (Stephen Blake), Andrew Timmins (Andrew Bermingham), Anthony Burke, Tom McCarthy (Evan Kelly), Gavin Smith (Jack McGlade).

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