Blast from the Past: Season 2007-2008
CCFL Division 2
Celts’ cruise in park
Portlaoise Celtic 5 St. Aengus 1
Second-placed Celtic were still licking their wounds after an earlier league mauling at the hands of Trumera. That unexpected reverse ensured Celtic were very focussed on this tie to get their stalled campaign going again. The Saints, rooted to the bottom of the table, had very different priorities and needed all three points on offer to stave off relegation.
Celtic took control of the opening half right from the start and never relinquished its vice-like grip on proceedings. Michael Dwane was causing untold damage to the Saints’ defence as he raided merrily up the right flank. Sean Brown continued to supply the ammo from the right full position for the Celts. His superb ball up to Brendan Lacumber near the right corner flag let him in for the first shot in anger of the game. Luckily for the Saints his effort came crashing off the near post and was cleared to safety.
Super work from Lacumber then won his side a free. Brown swung it in from the right wing and Ger King laid it back to Ronan Molloy who blazed over. Martin Gaughan sparked the Saints’ offence into action by setting up Greg Cuddy. His shot came zinging back into play off the base of the post into the grateful arms of Celtic keeper Colin Rochford.
Celtic broke upfield and neat inter-play between Brown, King and Ross Moylan saw the ball break across to Lacumber who stitched it low and hard into the left-hand corner of the Saints’ goals. This opening goal after fifteen minutes was followed by a second a couple of minutes later. Ronan Molloy’s corner was allowed to ping-pong in the Saints’ box by a hesitant visiting defence. John Breen, coming up from his berth at centre-half, was on hand to stoop low and head the ball into the Saints’ net.
The Saints’ response was sporadic with Cuddy their main cutting edge upfront. Celtic, comfortable at the back, poured forward in relentless attack. Brown fed Moylan who flicked the ball on into the path of Dwane but his shot was saved. The Saints broke downfield but Terry Lawless was on hand to break up the rampaging attack by Michael Meade. Celtic cruised into the half-time break on the back of their two-goal cushion.
All was changed utterly in the opening fifteen minutes of the concluding half. A hesitant Celtic backline allowed their opponents too much time and space on the ball. An early Saints’ attack was eventually broken up by Breen. That early warning went unheeded as Celtic continued their slack approach to defending. Michael Moore, in the heart of the Saints’ midfield, was allowed time to pick out a pass for Cuddy. The St. Aengus front man burnt off the cover but his first strike was partially blocked by Rochford. The ball broke out to him again and this time Cuddy was able to squeeze the ball in at the near post for the Saints’ opening goal.
A livewire Cuddy almost got in for a second goal moments later but Rochford saved bravely at his feet. With that, Celtic began to play again. Not before the Saints’ sub Bernard Bredin gave the hosts a fright as he bore down on goal. Resolute defending from the Celts’ Mark O’Sullivan ensured Celtic’s lead survived. Brown then fired in a superb free in response but James Carroll headed over. Indeed Celtic began to dominate out on the left wing as Brown, Lacumber and Carroll began to drag the visitor’s defense all over the place. Eventually that pressure broke the Saints’ resolve and Molloy’s pinpoint cross in from that flank allowed King a free header on goal. The Celtic midfielder didn’t pass up on the opportunity and his rocket of a header gave Ian Gilligan no chance in the Aengus goals.
Molloy turned finisher moments later but his shot from Lacumber’s through ball scudded just wide. Then Lacumber supplied Moylan who rushed and sliced his shot. Celtic came close to conceding soon after when Alex Beere, profiting from a defensive slip almost got through in goal. At the other end Brown and Molloy were supplying Lacumber with plenty of possession but the Saints managed to clear their lines repeatedly. Then Moylan had a shot cleared off the line.
O’Sullivan was called upon to snuff out a Cuddy counter-thrust at the other end. Celtic resumed their relentless attacking and got their reward soon after when Carroll was bundled over in the Saints’ box as he was about to take King’s cross in his stride. Dwane strode up and fired home the resulting penalty with a cool swagger. This fourth goal just minutes from the end was quickly added to by King turning a cross in from the wing into the Saints’ net for Celtic’s fifth strike.
Celtic’s best performances came from Dwane in the first half while Molloy, Carroll and Lacumber all took turns tormenting the Saints in the second. Greg Cuddy was a constant threat upfront for St Aengus. He was assisted by the two Michaels: Moore and Meade in midfield.
Portlaoise Celtic FC: Colin Rochford; Sean Brown, John Breen, Mark O’ Sullivan, Ronan Molloy; Michael Dwane, Ger King, Terry Lawless, James Carroll; Ross Moylan, Brendan LaCumber Subs Used: Mark Ryan for James Carroll (79th min.) Subs not used: Jonathan Molyneaux
St. Aengus: Ian Gilligan; Enda Bredin, Paul Sydes, Alex Beere, Martin Gaughan; Michael Meade, Michael Moore, Dermot Kelly, Greg Cuddy; Jason McDowell, James Phelan Subs Used: Bernard Bredin for Jason McDowell injured (45th min.)
Goal of the Game: Celtic’s third goal was a masterpiece of simplicity; a superb ball in from Molloy out on the right and an emphatic King header
Save of the Game: Rochford pulled off a brave save at Cuddy’s feet to stop the Saints grabbing an equaliser