Gallagher 9, Glynn 14, 71, Broderick 78
Castlebar Celtic 4
O’Boyle 8, 28, 83, Broderick OG 69
FORGET El Clásico in Spain. Last Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash in Claremorris proved to be the game of the season. Fortunes swayed back and forth right to the final whistle and there were some spectacular performances on both sides.
Despite terrible conditions, three wonderful goals brought this game to life in the opening 14 minutes. Claremorris had a chance to break the deadlock when Brian Gallagher got his head to Danny Broderick’s lovely ball, but it sailed over. Celtic struck first in the eighth minute after Mark Gallagher handled the ball. Unfortunately for Claremorris, three free kick was in Ronan O’Boyle territory. As cool as you like, the striker curled the ball home from just outside the box.
A mere 30 seconds later, Claremorris responded in glorious fashion. Danny Broderick cut inside the Celtic rearguard and sent in a perfect cross and Brian Gallagher gave Gary Byrne no chance with a powerful header.
Five minutes later, Claremorris livewire Mark Gallgher put Paul Ryan through on goal. Gary Byrne raced out from his line but caught Ryan with a clumsy challenge. Pat Foley pointed to the spot, and Derek Glynn planted the ball in the net.
Celtic sensed danger and they stepped up a gear. Ronan O’Boyle blazed a free kick over before his brother Gerard had a chance to level it up, but Nicky Pilbrow saved his first effort and then threw himself on the ball to keep the Claremorris lead intact. Just before the half-hour mark, Ronan O’Boyle put Celtic on level terms. His initial effort was stopped, but he made no mistake with his second attempt. Game on.
Twelve minutes before half time, Claremorris defender James Stretton was sent off after getting his second yellow card, but the south Mayo side remained deadly on the counter-attack. Paul Ryan saw his 30-yard effort smack off the crossbar and then had a header saved wonderfully by Byrne. The half-time interval gave both sets of players a chance to catch their breath after an absorbing 45 minutes of football.
Luckily more of the same followed in the second half. Eight minutes after the restart, Celtic’s Ollie Cunningham let fly from 25 yards. It had ‘goal of the season’ written all over it, but the ball crashed off the crossbar. Celtic went 3-2 up after 69 minutes when Danny Broderick headed into his own net after a terrible mix-up between himself and Nicky Pilbrow. Claremorris bounced back and were level two minutes later. Broderick surged up field and drew the cover. His precision pass split the Celtic defence and Glynn raced clear and he slotted it home.
Celtic were reduced to ten men on 75 minutes when Stevie Gavin was sent off on a second yellow card after a challenge on Brian Gallagher. Danny Broderick unleashed a wonderful effort from the resulting free kick. It took a slight deflection, and amazingly, Claremorris were 4-3 ahead.
The last 15 minutes were frantic as Celtic went in search of the all-important equaliser. It arrived with seven minutes to play and there are no prizes for guessing who provided the finish. Ronan O’Boyle clinched his hat-trick with a wonderful solo effort, sparking wild celebrations in the Celtic dugout.
Claremorris had a chance to go ahead once more but Derek Glynn’s free kick cannoned off the post. David Grant might have snatched victory at the death, but he delayed his effort and sent it straight at the goalkeeper. There was more to follow in injury time, as Gerard O’Boyle hit a real humdinger from just inside the Claremorris half that came off to the crossbar.
Pat Foley blew for full-time seconds later after a very exciting game that certainly lived up to expectations.
N Pilbrow, J Stretton, N Kitching, J Hutton, D Broderick, M Gallagher, D Grant, R Quirke, D Glynn, B Gallagher, P Ryan.
Sub used: C Heffernan for M Gallagher (inj)
G Byrne; M Owens, E Crean, J Minogue, A Neary, C Rowland, B McLoughlin, G O’Boyle, R O’Boyle, S Gavin, O Cunningham.
Subs used: J McGurren for B McLoughlin; S Jennings for O Cunningham.
Referee: P Foley