CELEBRATION TIME David Hoban (right, accompanied by Philip Keegan) was a happy man after scoring Westport’s first goal. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
Castlebar Celtic 1
C Griffin 88
Westport United 3
D Hoban 24, P Keegan 70,
J Murphy 90 + 1
ANYONE who gave into the cold and left Celtic Park early on Sunday deprived themselves of the part of this old derby encounter most worth talking about. With two minutes of normal time to go, Westport United enjoyed a comfortable 2-0 lead, but then there was a goal at each end and a sending-off, in a frenetic closing period.
Castlebar Celtic cannot be happy with their performance, failing to trouble Westport goalkeeper Gary Cunnigham for most of the game, and creating very few goalscoring chances before they found the net in the 88th minute.
Their gifting of the first goal to the champions will not sit well with manager Ciaran Kelly either, as it provided an impetus for Westport when it seemed goals were going to be in short supply. Still, Westport manager John Brennan and his team won’t mind how they get the points, and after a tough start against Glenhest last week, they will be delighted to have full points from their first two games of the campaign.
A strong breeze was not used advantageously by Celtic in the first half on Sunday, but there was little to write about in the opening exchanges. Westport went in front after 24 minutes when a mix-up in the Celtic defence saw the ball break free to David Hoban, who had time and space on the edge of the area to take two touches and fire past Hoops goalkeeper Mark Benson.
It was a case of being in the right place at the right time, and Hoban gleefully celebrated the gift from his opponents, though his finish was excellent. It was after the half-hour mark when Jordan Loftus had Celtic’s first goal-bound attempt, but he dragged the shot wide and as the game heated up, referee Damien MacGraith was brandishing yellow cards all over the pitch to calm matters down. One recipient of a caution was Celtic’s Stevie Ryan, who would see another in the closing stages and get first run at the hot water in the showers as a result.
Westport’s second goal on 70 minutes was the moment of the match. Joe Lawless and Danny Scahill combined to work the ball upfield from the Westport area. Then Darren Browne played an exquisite crossfield pass with the outside of his right boot, which Philip Keegan raced onto and finished low past Benson. It was end-to-end brilliance in about 12 seconds, and was a big blow to Celtic.
A raft of substitutions followed from both teams and Celtic pulled a goal back with two minutes left when Conor Griffin rose to net a great looping header from a Colm Nevin free-kick.
Any chance of a comeback was killed off almost immediately afterwards, however. After Benson saved from Mark MacNally in a one-on-one situation, fellow United substitute Jack Murphy did not need to be asked twice to open his account for the season. The youngster finished calmly under pressure after MacNally played him through.
Between those two chances, Stevie Ryan was sent walking, after picking up a second booking, this one for dissent.
M Benson, I O’Reilly, G O’Boyle, W Hanney, S Ryan, R McManus, J Ivers, B McGarry, J Loftus, C Nevin, A Johnston.
Subs used: J Minogue for Johnston; M Roache for McGarry; C Griffin for Ivers.
G Cunningham, J O’Donnell, M Geraghty, PJ Calvey, J Lawless, D Scahill, P Keegan, D Cameron, D Browne, M O’Brien, D Hoban.
Subs used: P Corcoran for Hoban; J Murphy for Browne; A Mulchrone for Scahill; M MacNally for O’Brien; K Joyce for Calvey.
Ref: D MacGraith