'Spot' shines for five-star United
Bunclody 0 North End United 5
Champions North End United roared back into life with a commanding, if a tad flattering, 5-0 away win against Bunclody F.C. in Sunday morning's Premier Division tie played at a pleasantly mild Bunclody.
Not for the first time in his career, the impressive Paul 'Spot' Murphy was the architect of the Wexford town side's victory, not only getting his name on the scoresheet twice, but also being centrally involved in two further goals before retiring early with the three points safely in the bag.
However, the game could have taken on a completely different narrative had the hosts not squandered a golden chance to take the lead on 13 minutes.
North End had generally lorded possession in those early exchanges without doing much damage, but they were sweating when a rather innocuous through ball towards Timmy Halpin saw the Bunclody number 10 clipped in the box for a penalty.
Shane Franklin elected to go for placement from the spot-kick, but Lee Walker had his measure when he dived low to his left to produce a fine save.
Luck also deserted Bunclody two minutes later when Halpin's cross was met by a sweet volley from Severyn Gadzina, but the post stood in the way of what would have been an eye-catching opener.
If anything, though, those couple of chances angered North End and it didn't take long for Murphy to make his first mark on proceedings. He gathered possession to the left of the box on 24 minutes, and floated a lovely ball to the back post where Kyle Dempsey knocked it down for Robin Dempsey to tap home from no more than two yards out.
Their lead was doubled four minutes later when Walker gathered a cross and immediately initiated a counter-attack that saw Murphy one-on-one with Gary McLean, and his shot trickled to the net despite the best thwarting efforts of the netminder.
The ex-Wexford Youths striker also walloped the crossbar from a free-kick brought about when McLean was adjudged to have picked up a back pass, while Paul Murphy (Kilmore) had a half-volley fly over as the leaders finished the first-half with intent.
There was no incident of note after the re-start until 'Spot' chased down a lost cause to keep the ball active, with Kyle Dempsey and Paul Murphy (Kilmore) linking to tee up Gary Byrne to slot home on 58 minutes.
And when freshly-introduced substitute Jason Murphy overturned possession and played in his brother on 68 minutes, there was only ever going to be one outcome as 'Spot' coolly tucked away their fourth goal.
A chastening experience for Bunclody was exacerbated 14 minutes from time when Chris Atkinson spectacularly turned the ball into his own net when pressurised to deal with a teasing delivery from Shane Dempsey.
Remarkably, the five goals they conceded here is just one less than their cumulative total from their previous ten games.
Nonetheless, it has been a positive season to date for the Carlow border side despite this setback as they remain comfortably among the chasing pack.
Bunclody F.C.: Gary McLean; Chris Kelly, Timmy Bolger (capt.), Chris Atkinson, Aaron Collier; Timmy Halpin, Andrew Kelly, Gary Cowman, Shane Franklin; P.J. Mulhall, Severyn Gadzina. Subs. - Johnny Melay for Cowman (HT), David Halpin for T. Halpin (59), Jamie Wilson for Collier (59), Cian Cowman for A. Kelly, inj. (65).
North END UNITED: Lee Walker; Warren Broaders, Gary Delaney, Dale Flynn, Lee Smith; Kyle Dempsey, Shane Dempsey, Robin Dempsey, Gary Byrne; Paul Murphy (Kilmore), Paul Murphy (capt.). Subs. - Lee Wadding for R. Dempsey (59), Jason Murphy for P. Murphy (Kilmore, 59), Adam Beary for K. Dempsey (69), Andy Moore for 'Spot' Murphy (69).
Referee: Seán Grant.
New Ross Standard