Wednesday September 19 2012

ROCK Celtic inflicted the first defeat on league leaders Duleek at Sandy Lane on Friday night to open up the Premier title race.

For the Blackrock outfit it was the perfect response after surrendering their flawless start to the season at the hands of last year’s champions Woodview the previous week, and they had Kevin McArdle to thank for securing the points, converting a 17th-minute penalty, despite Duleek’s outstanding keeper Keith Martin getting his finger tips to his low kick.

Rock resisted a strong rally by the visitors after the break and created far more clear-cut chance and on the overall play deserved thevictory. However, Martin didn’t deserve to be on the losing side and deserved his good fortune when Paddy Quinn shot past the goalkeeper, only for his effort to hit the butt of the post.

Duleek will claim with some justification that the awarding of the decisive penalty was harsh, with Raymond Hamilton adjudged to have barged into David Ward from the side.

Rock had a claim for another penalty shortly after, with Ward again involved, while Duleek also had a strong shout for one as the tension grew in the second half of a captivating tussle that produced bundles of good football.

Ward was denied by Martin for the first time in the early minutes when he was put clear in the box by Quinn, who later in the half showed great tenacity to win the ball not far inside the Duleek half and link up with a teammate before shooting across the goal.

Barry Kavanagh had a free glancing header right in front of Rock’s goal which he should have scored with and then dashed beyond the far post to connect with a left wing cross that he couldn’t get on target.

Tony Grant couldn’t stretch far enough to turn in another fine defence-splitting pass before the break, and Duleek really stepped up their game right early in the second half.

However, Monday Awoyomi twice passed up good chances to put his side level and Kavanagh wasted another before John Rogers made the game’s most vital save, thwarting Awoyomi from close range.

Paddy Quinn then got on the end of a Gerard McSorley cross for Martin to make the first of a series of magnificent saves, managing to turn over the big midfielder’s shot with his feet.

From then on it was all about Martin’s heroics, going full-length to deny McSorley and then Ward before Quinn burst through from midfield and struck the post.

At the death Gore also could only look on in amazement as he raced towards the box before letting fly, only to see Martin once again spring to his side’s rescue.

ROCK CELTIC: John Rogers, Mark McGeown, Shane O’Callaghan (Ciaran Clarke), Sean Waters, David Hoey, Chris Connolly (Paddy Reilly), Paddy Quinn, Paul Gore, Gerard McSorley, Kevin McArdle (John Sharkey), David Ward.

DULEEK: Keith Martin, Bryan Murphy, Jamie Flaherty, Barry Kelly, Raymond Hamilton, Monday Awoyomi, Paddy Coates (Robbie Clarke), Tony Andrews (Colin Woods), Barry Kavanagh, Tony Grant (Craig Brodigan), Paul Matondo.


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