Westport Utd 1
Horkan 90 + 5
Castlebar Celtic 1
R O’Boyle 13
A 95TH-MINUTE goal from David Horkan gave Westport United a share of the spoils at the Sports Park on Sunday in a game that was high on incident if not always quality.
Celtic will view this as one that got away, having gone ahead thanks to an early Ronan O’Boyle strike. Their lead at the top of the table has now been cut to three points, but they remain favourites to win the Super League title.
“This’ll be a cracker of a game … it’ll be shite football though,” one Celtic sub predicted beforehand. What transpired was somewhere in between, but definitely more exciting than aesthetically pleasing. There were only half-chances before Celtic’s goal arrived after 13 minutes. Westport’s Gary Cunningham made a good stop in a one-on-one situation to deny Stevie Gavin, but Ronan O’Boyle netted the rebound.
Chances were hard come by, though Ger O’Boyle almost doubling Celtic’s lead after 28 minutes following a link-up between Gerry Burke and Ronan O’Boyle on the left. Shortly afterwards, referee Damien McGrath pointed to the spot for what he deemed a foul by Celtic’s Declan Flynn on Phil Keegan. Flynn clearly took the ball, something McGrath acknowledged after consulting his assistant Stephen Moran and awarding a corner.
Celtic’s Alan McDonnell and United’s Joe Lawless were putting in big performances, while Ger O’Boyle went close again following a cross from the ever-busy Gavin. It was still 1-0 at the break.
Westport had the ball in the net six minutes after the restart from Phil Keegan’s overhead kick, but assistant referee Martin Regan had flagged for offside. At the other end, Ronan O’Boyle’s daisy-cutter free kick drew a fine fingertip save from Cunningham. The game continued to ebb and flow, as Gerry Burke and David Cameron went close for their respective sides.
Some of the referee’s decisions came in for criticism from both sides, and Westport manager Kieran Mulchrone was sent from the dugout for his reaction to an incident that saw Keegan booked. Damien McGrath made some odd calls that raised eyebrows and definitely got a few wrong – particularly in the second half. But the invective-filled, constant carping of both camps to most of his judgements grew tiresome too.
Westport pushed for an equaliser. David Horkan’s header from a Danny Scahill throw was saved by Conor Ward, while sub Martin Geraghty had a scissors kick blocked with the hosts claiming handball – “You could HEAR it,” one outraged Covey suggested. Down the other end, McDonnell appealed for a Celtic spot-kick, while Ronan O’Boyle headed just over following good approach work from Gavin.
The visitors must have thought it would be their day when an extraordinary sequence saw Vinny O’Malley’s shot halted by a Westport body, before Ger O’Boyle got a crucial block of his own. But United got a controversial corner, and goalkeeper Cunningham went forward, almost scoring a dramatic equaliser before McDonnell cleared. Then, from the subsequent play, David Horkan popped up to ensure a share of the spoils.
G Cunningham, A O’Malley, K Joyce, J Lawless, D Horkan, D Cameron, G McLoughlin, P Fitzgerald, D Scahill, P Keegan, David Hoban.
Subs used: M Geraghty for Fitzgerald (56 mins); V O’Malley for Hoban (63 mins); Darren Hoban for McLoughlin (76 mins).
C Ward, O Cunningham, A Neary, D Flynn, J Minogue, A McDonnell, S Gavin, G O’Boyle, R O’Boyle, I O’Reilly, G Burke.
Sub used: C Rowland for O’Reilly (66 mins).
Referee: D McGrath