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Rathowen a class apart

HIGH-flying Rathowen United took the first step towards regaining the CCFL Saturday Divisions Cup with this big win over North Celtic.

Confirmed as Division One Saturday league leaders when they were awarded the points from an unplayed fixture involving Cavan Town, they used that boardroom boost as a springboard to cup success.

In a match which was switched from a wet Collinstown pitch to Rathowen's home venue in Streete, the team managed by Tommy Lambden proved they are certainly on the right road.

They hit the ground running, with early goals from Max Brady and Padraig Tighe, the second coming when the ball was swept home on the rebound after Niall McGurren's shot hit the bar.

North Celtic, who themselves are having a good season and rest in second place in Division Three Saturday, came back into contention when Tommy Lambden, son of the manager, fouled Noel Conaty and Offaly referee Pat Geoghegan awarded a penalty which Ray Sheridan converted.

Still more goals came before the break. First McGurren's free kick from the left wing was knocked home by Mark McAdden and then it was 4-1 when Tighe turned a corner kick beyond keeper Enda Sheridan.

Remarkably, Celtic cut the deficit to 4-3 by the interval. Kevin Brazil, North's best player, hit the bar with a 30-yarder and David Kelly pounced to finish it to the net.

Two minutes from half-time, Michael Walsh, a replacement for the injured influential midfielder Eric Salmon, netted from close range to leave Celtic only a goal down.

There was no joy for them in the second half however as Tighe completed a memorable hat-trick with a spectacular 40-yard effort shortly after the restart and Liam Mitchell all but wrapped it up for Rathowen with a tap-in.

The 2008 Saturday Division Cup winners then rounded off the victory when centre-forward McGurren, who played a part in five of the goals, received a short corner and crossed for Ciaran Murphy to nod in number seven.

It was a powerful display from Rathowen, who are now on course for a league and cup double, providing they can keep the cup run going and deny the likes of Stillery the Division One title.

NORTH CELTIC: Enda Sheridan; Thomas McGlynn, Keith Weldon, Dara McCormack, Eric Sullivan, Eric Salmon, Ray Sheridan, John Brennan, David Kelly, Noel Conaty, Kevin Brazil. Subs: Martin Griffith, Donall Moore, Michael Gurren, Justin Keating, Michael Walsh.

RATHOWEN UNITED: Robbie Gilligan; Liam Mitchell, Ciaran Murphy, Tommy Lambden, Seamus Moran, Mark McAdden, Mark Gaye, Kevin Mitchell, Padraig Tighe, Niall McGurren, Max Brady. Subs: Paul Connaughton, Fintan Connaughton, Kieran Fahy, Robbie Wilson.

Referee: Pat Geoghegan (Offaly Branch).

League Review: The CCFL Women's Division is a straight race between the Leagues two most consistent teams over the past couple of years, Bealnamulla Athlone Town and Tullamore Town. With Bealnamulla holding a three point lead on Tullamore at the time of writing they are favorites to go on and defend the title that they have won for the past four years but with the two teams having to play each other once more before the end of the season, Tullamore could still surprise their great rivals. Ever improving Killavilla remain in third place while Banagher Utd, Mullingar Athletic will be happy that their teams are moving in the right direction. It's still all to play for in the Youths Premier Division with current leaders Mountmellick Utd two points clear of second place Newbridge Town and in third place its Tullamore Town who have up to four games in hand on the leaders. If they can win these games in hand, Tullamore will be well in the mix come the end of the year. In Youths Division 1 it's a great battle between four teams only separated by 6 points.