SOCCER – BRIAN MCCORMICK SPORTS PREMIER DIVISION
GLENEA UNITED 0
RATHMULLAN CELTIC 2
By Harry Walsh in Glasherchoo
YESTERDAY afternoon sports enthusiasts across Donegal had decisions to make.
For many, the lure of Croke Park and Donegal playing in a National League final proved to be too strong, a game that was also live on TG4, while others chose to comfort of their own living rooms to watch Chelsea and Liverpool lock horns at Anfield.
Munster’s Heineken Cup semi final in the south of France took centre stage for a few more but for more than fifty die-hard Rathmullan Celtic supporters Gortahork was the only place to be as their heroes sought to win the Donegal League title for the first time in the club’s history.
The seasiders went into yesterday’s game knowing that they had to beat Glenea United and hope that fellow title chasers Lifford Celtic failed to beat Kilmacrennan Celtic in Rathmullan.
Celtic, under the guidance of players managers Paddy Sheridan and Patrick Patton, kept up their side of the bargain thanks to goals in either half from David Miller and Dara Patton.
Back on their home patch Kilmacrennan Celtic started brightly against Lifford Celtic, taking an early lead and holding them to a 1-1 draw at the interval.
Try as they might the border side were unable to add a second goal after the break and within seconds of Mick Lagan blowing his full-time whistle at a sun drenched Glasherchoo word filtered through that Lifford had been held to a 1-1 draw.
With mobile coverage very poor in Gortahork it took a few extra seconds for the realisation to sink in that Rathmullan had won the title. Cue scenes of unbridled joy with the players threatening to party all week long!
In the build up to the game, much had been made of the fierce rivalry that has developed between Rathmullan and Glenea.
A year ago Tom Coll’s men travelled to Rathmullan on the brink of securing back-to-back titles only for a stoppage time goal from Dara Patton to hand the title to Lifford after Glenea were held to a 4-4 draw.
Rathmullan travelled to Glenea yesterday knowing that they would have to battle for the win and they weren’t disappointed but that’s the way it should always be.
Likewise, Tom Coll and his players stayed behind on the pitch at the final whistle as Donegal League officials Nigel Ferry and Terry Leyden handed over the trophy to Rathmullan captain Shea Coyle – again that’s the way it should be.
Rathmullan went into the game on the back of a three-week break but it didn’t take them too long to settle to the task at hand. With team captain Shea Coyle and the experienced Kieran Gorman commanding at the heart of the defence, Glenea struggled to get a foothold in the game.
Paddy Sheridan came closest to opening the scoring for the visitors early on but his close range shot was blocked after Glen Bovaird’s corner had been flicked on at the front post.
Sheridan would limp off midway through the half with a calf injury, his place being taken by Ryan Connolly, and the game’s first goal came ten minutes before the interval.
David Miller made his way down the right flank and his cross into the danger area caught in the wind and was misjudged by young Joe Coll in the Glenea goal.
Within a minute Eamon Sheridan almost got on the end of a sweeping move involving Connolly and Dara Patton, heading narrowly over, before Coll did well to deny Christopher Barrett on 38 minutes.
Glenea brought on Jason McGee for John Harley at the start of the second half but it was Rathmullan who doubled their advantage on 54 minutes. Eoin Sheridan did well to win possession down the right and his precise pass was swept beyond Coll by Patton from the edge of the box.
Thereafter it was very much a case of we have what we hold for Rathmullan, and with experienced players all over the pitch, they effectively closed the game out.
Both teams emptied their respective benches in the closing minutes but Glenea were unable to seriously threaten Ian Strain’s goal.
Deep into injury time a mistake by Eugene Maguire put Patton through on goal but his shot was saved by Coll and the danger the cleared.
Moments later Mick Lagan signalled full-time and the start of celebrations among the travelling Rathmullan supporters.
GLENEA UNITED: Joe Coll, John Harley, Eugene Maguire, Padraig McGee, Sean Coll, Shaun Maguire, Sean McBride, Kevin Mulhern, Ryan McFadden, Donal Coll, Darren McGeever. Subs: Jason McGee for Harley (half-time), Dean Gallagher for Mulhern (67 mins) and Eamon McHugh for McBride (78 mins)
RATHMULLAN CELTIC: Ian Strain, David Miller, Patrick Patton, Kieran Gorman, Shea Coyle, Christopher Barrett, Paddy Sheridan, Eoin Sheridan, Eamon Sheridan, Glen Bovaird, Dara Patton. Subs: Ryan Connolly for P Sheridan (27 mins), Niall Doherty for Eoin Sheridan (78 mins) and Kevin McCarry for Eamon Sheridan (85 mins)
REFEREE: Mick Lagan