Sports

Celts lift their twelfth Bessbrook Cup

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Celts lift their twelfth Bessbrook Cup thumbnailTHE Newry Celtic goalscorers on Boxing Day were Colm Fegan and Mark Lowry.

NEWRY Celtic clinched an unprecedented twelfth Bessbrook Cup, after a hard fought but deserved 3-1 victory against Killeavy United at the Newry Showgrounds on Boxing Day.

Newry Celtic ...3
Killeavy United ...1

It was sweet revenge for Celtic, who were thumped 4-0 by Killeavy in the opening league match of the season back in August.

It was also a triumphant return to the Newry Showgrounds for the Celts, after they agonisingly lost last season's Bessbrook Cup final to Cleary Celtic on penalties.

Few would argue that Newry Celtic - who have incidentally reached the last three Bessbrook Cup finals - winning two of them, were worthy winners of this showpiece final.

But Killeavy will be left to ponder what might have been - as the loss of their influential captain Karl O'Hare in the 13th minute was a major blow to the south Armagh side, which undoubtedly had a detrimental effect on the outcome of the game for them.

Newry Celtic talisman Mark Lowry was unanimously voted as Man of the Match.

The irrepressible Lowry was a constant thorn in the Killeavy defence all afternoon and was by far and away the best player on the pitch.

Indeed, if the rumour mill is to be believed, this game may well have been his swansong for Celtic, as rumours are strife that a return to Newry City AFC in the January transfer window is imminent.

Lowry set up Colm Fegan to give Celtic a 1-0 lead at the break, in what was the 49th Bessbrook Cup final, before that man Lowry made it 2-0 at the start of the second half.

Killeavy pulled one back midway through the second half through substitute Mark Stanfield, but any hopes of a comeback were soon quashed when Fegan notched his second of the afternoon in the 76th minute, to effectively clinch the match for the Celts.

Newry Celtic began this match on the front foot and they created the first chance in the third minute when a well struck Stephen Wylie free-kick was tipped around the post by Killeavy goalkeeper Andrew Woodward.

In the tenth minute, Killeavy's Karl O'Hare and Celtic's Brian Dillon both contested a 50/50 ball but unfortunately for Killeavy, O'Hare sustained an injury, and the Killeavy captain had to be replaced by Mark Stanfield soon after.

In the 16th minute Stanfield almost made an instant impact in the game when the Killeavy substitute rose unchallenged to meet an Anthony O'Hare corner kick, but headed well over.

Celtic responded a minute later when an incisive ball from Stephen Daly put the lightning quick Mark Lowry in the clear, only to be denied by a great save from Killeavy custodian Woodward.

Two minutes Lowry was again through on goal but this time he smashed his shot into the side netting from a tight angle.

Celtic were now well on top and in the 28th minute they were rewarded for their efforts with the opening goal of the afternoon. An astute pass from Fegan set Lowry on his way. But with just the keeper to beat, he unselfishly squared the ball to the in-rushing Fegan, who side footed the ball home from five yards out.

Lowry continued to wreak havoc in the Killeavy rear-guard, and on the half hour mark Killeavy defender Jason Long made a very timely interception to prevent Lowry's cross reaching the unmarked Fegan, who was ready to pounce in the six yard box.

Newry Celtic goalkeeper Barry McParland was called into action for the first time in the match in the 33rd minute - pulling off a superb reaction save, to deny a 25 yard Darren McConville thunderbolt effort, which looked destined for the top corner of the net.

At the other end, Lowry was in the thick of the action once again in the 40th minute when he burst forward on the counter attack, before squaring the ball to Fegan, who will have been disappointed not to have found the back of the net from five yards out.

Celtic were not to be denied goal number though, and in the opening minute of the second half the ever alert Lowry pounced on an error in the Killeavy defence. And with just the keeper to beat, he chipped the ball over the head of Woodward and into the back of the net to make it 2-0.

Killeavy thought they had pulled a goal back in the 53rd minute when an Anthony O'Hare cross was rifled home by David Reel - only for the effort to be ruled out for offside.

Killeavy were now throwing everything at the Celtic defence - which was being excellently marshalled by the central defensive partnership of Keith Moan and Kieran McCann.

But against the run of play the Celts almost further increased their advantage in the 62nd minute.

Killeavy keeper Woodward - who is a postman by day, delivered the goods for Killeavy once again, when he denied Lowry from point blank range.

Killeavy were thrown a lifeline in the 65th minute when Mark Stanfield steered his effort past McParland to reduce the deficit to a single goal.

But Celtic restored their two goal cushion in 76th minute to knock the wind from Killeavy's sails. Fegan collected a short pass from Daly 25 yards out, took a moment to pick his spot, before driving the ball low into the bottom left corner of the net.

Credit to Killeavy - they battled valiantly to get back into the match, but it just wasn't to be their day.

Match referee Eddie Madigan's final whistle cued mass scenes of celebration amongst Newry Celtic players, supporters and management - which continued after the match when a representative from tournament sponsor Kehoe Kars presented the Bessbrook Cup to the jubilant Newry Celtic captain Lonnie Larkin.

Kehoe Cars Man of the Match: Mark Lowry (Newry Celtic)

Newry Celtic: Barry McParland, Ronan Byrne, Caolan Moan, Kieran McCann, Keith Moan, Stephen Wylie, Colm Fegan, Brian Dillon, Stephen Daly, Mark Lowry and Lonnie Larkin (Captain).

Subs: (Used) Ciaran McKevitt, Shane Burns and Stephen Lowry. (Unused) Ryan Evans and Gary Linnie.

Killeavy United: Andrew Woodward, Jason Long, Darran McConville, Paddy Morgan, Karl O'Hare (Captain), Paddy Rooney, Barry Magee, Raymond Taggart, David Reel, Anthony O'Harereel and Michael Boyle.

Subs: (Used) Mark Stanfield, Shea Gregory and Darren O'Hanlon. (Unused) Bruno Sousa and Paddy McGuinness.

Referee: Eddie Madigan.

Assistants: Paul McLoughlin and Michael Cummins.

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