Five star Hoops put Millburn to sword

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

IN the only Carnbane League match not to be called off due to frost and snow conditions on Saturday afternoon, Newry Celtic's Stephen Daly was on target with a hat-trick, as the Hoops brushed aside the challenge of bottom of the table side Millburn United at Clonallon Park.

Millburn United ...0
Newry Celtic ...5

Confidence was high in the Newry Celtic camp going into this match, following their scintillating victory in the Bessbrook Cup final against Killeavy, although this was the first time this season they would have to make do without their star player Mark Lowry, who left the club to re-join Newry City AFC the previous week.

But even without their prized asset, Celtic dominated this match on Saturday afternoon, albeit against a Millburn United team, who before Saturday afternoon had amassed just a single point from ten played.

Unsurprisingly, it was Celtic who started the brighter of the two teams; taking the lead as early as the fifth minute, through a close range Stephen Daly finish.

Celtic continued in the ascendancy and they doubled their advantage in the 20th minute through a superb individual goal from their captain Lonnie Larkin, who ran from his own half, evading the challenges of several Millburn players, before rifling a shot past Millburn 'keeper Mark Rocks.

Millburn's best chance of the half fell to Damian Poland four minutes before the break. But just as Poland was about to pull the trigger, he was denied by a brilliant last-ditch interception from Celtic defender Gary Linnie.

Millburn were presented with another great chance to pull a goal back in the opening minute of the second half, when Michael Morgan raced onto a terrific long ball from Paul Trainor. Morgan hooked the ball over Celtic custodian Barry McParland, but he was desperately unlucky to see the ball flash wide of the left goal post.

Both teams were throwing all their energies into attack and in the 48th minute Shane Burns went close for Celtic following great work from Stephen Wylie, while at the other end Michael Morgan shot straight into the grateful arms of Barry McParland from an acute angle in the 53rd minute.

But any hopes Millburn had of getting back into this match were dealt a major blow on the hour mark, when Celtic found the back of the net once again to go 3-0 in front. A long diagonal ball from the impressive Stephen Daly was powerfully volleyed home into the bottom right corner of the net by Gary Linnie from eight yards out, giving Mark Rocks no chance in the Millburn goal.

Celtic were now in full control and in the 64th minute the lively Gary Linnie was in the thick of the action again when he was upended inside the Millburn penalty box, leaving referee Jim Burns with little choice but to award Celtic a penalty kick. Linnie dusted himself off to take the spot kick, only to see his powerfully driven effort smash off the base of the left post.

The Celts weren't to be denied a fourth goal though. Stephen Daly, who was becoming increasingly effective as the game went on, pick-pocketed Millburn's Phillip McKay on the half way line in the 72nd minute, before bursting forward and coolly chipping the ball over the advancing Mark Rocks, to net his second and Celtic's fourth of the afternoon.

It was a case of damage limitation now for Millburn as the Hoops looked like adding to their tally every time the ball broke forward.

Daly spurned a decent opportunity to hit his hat-trick in the 73rd minute - but it didn't take the Celtic ace long to make amends. Two minutes later, following a neat bit of interplay between Burns and Daly, the former unselfishly squared the ball to the inrushing Daly, who had the simple task of hitting the back of the net from six yards out, to complete his hat-trick, which was incidentally his 18th goal of the season.

Millburn's misery was further compounded in the 86th minute when Ciaran McGivern was brandished a straight red card by referee Jim Burns for dissent.

Celtic almost added a sixth goal three minutes from time when Shane Burns audaciously chipped the ball over the Millburn 'keeper from 30-yards out - only to be denied by the crossbar.

The result moves Celtic onto eighteen points from eleven games played, five points behind league leaders Killowen Celtic, but with a game less played.

But tougher challenges lie ahead for Newry Celtic in their seven remaining league games - none more so than this Saturday when they face fellow title challengers Ballybot United. It's surely a must win game for both sides in a league where any one of six teams can still win.

MILLBURN UNITED: Mark Rocks, Mickey Kayes, Patrick Beggs, Ciaran McGivern, Phillip McKay, Damian Poland, Davy Walker, Riain McCartan, Michael Morgan, Thomas Beggs, Ryan Rice. Sub: Paul Trainor.

NEWRY CELTIC: Barry McParland, Gary Linnie, Caolan Moan, Keith Moan, Kieran McCann, Stephen Wylie, Stephen Daly, Brian Dillon, Shane Burns, Colm Fegan, Lonnie Larkin. Subs: Ciaran McDevitt, Kevin McParland, Ryan Evans.

Referee: Jim Burns.


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