Celtic Bhoys kick off new year with win

Celtic Bhoys kick off new year with win

12 January 2022

CELTIC Bhoys kicked off the new calendar year by picking up all three points away to long time league rivals Newcastle Swifts at a soaking wet Donard Park on Saturday afternoon.

An early Shaun Megahey penalty gave The Hoops a lead they would never relinquish before captain Michael Rice and marksman Jay Gibney ensured there would be no late rally from the Seasiders.

Newcastle will count themselves unlucky to concede a penalty kick just five minutes in for a handball that they disputed actually came off a green and white jersey.

Nonetheless, Celtic’s ever reliable defender, Shaun Megahey, made no mistake with the spot kick and sent goalkeeper Fintan Canavan the wrong way to open the scoring.

The Hoops kept their foot on the pedal with striker Jay Gibney testing Canavan from range. Newcastle did not make things easy for the visitors and constantly remained a threat in attack with the experienced Neil Corr causing problems all afternoon.

Celtic’s Conaill Kerr had his headed goal chalked off after he was adjudged to have fouled custodian Canavan by referee Peter Kelly.

Kerr was determined not to be deterred by this and went on a surging run in the next passage of play, dancing around the Newcastle defence to unleash a shot that just whisked wide of the post.

This seemed to wake up the Seasiders, who forced Celtic to retreat into their own half largely in thanks to the midfield display of Peter Brannigan.

Newcastle nearly had their momentum derailed when ‘keeper Canavan misplaced a pass to the feet of Gibney, although the Celtic striker’s snapshot landed safely back into the arms of the grateful number one.

As the hosts went back on the attack, Richard McInerney combined well with Shane Kearney before the Newcastle number 11’s inviting cross into the box was punched to safety by Celtic ‘keeper Nathan Curran.

The following ten minutes of play consisted of both teams battling for possession in the middle of the park, where man of the match Corey McCartan was notably winning the lion’s share for his Celtic side.

The Hoops almost doubled their lead when Jordan McCoubrey fired a cross into the Newcastle box where team-mate Gibney managed to poke his head in front of Canavan to round the ‘keeper.

However, with the angle at goal not in his favour, the Celtic number nine saw his effort sail across the line and eventually out for a throw-in. This signalled the last notable passage of play before the half-time interval.

Celtic began the restart positively with the ball quickly making its way back to ‘keeper Curran, who sent a cross field pass to the feet of Stephen Galbraith.

The Hoops’ midfielder played a cute first time pass to Gibney, who sumptuously back-heeled to team-mate McCoubrey for a shot on goal that resulted in a corner.

Newcastle decided to fight fire with fire and went on the attack. In what was possibly another sign that it wasn’t to be their day, the hosts had appeals for a penalty waved off after Brannigan was met with a tackle that sent him to the floor inside the box.

The Seasiders enjoyed a purple patch where they hit the visitors with wave after wave of attacks, although they couldn’t find the vital touch to put the ball in the net. 

Celtic ‘keeper Curran was forced to clear his lines on multiple occasions, and to his credit, The Hoops’ number one remained sharp and focused throughout the 90 minutes.

Peter O’Hare and skipper Louis Brunsdon were pulling the strings for Newcastle, but their final ball was just off the mark in what was becoming an increasingly frustrating afternoon for the home side.

As the playing conditions began to become increasingly worse, there was a bright light in Celtic youngster Eoin Kelly, who made an impactful appearance off the bench and slowly began to swing the momentum in favour of his side – largely also in thanks to team-mate McCartan overturning possession in midfield.

Another Celtic substitute, Sean McMahon, forced Newcastle ‘keeper Canavan to produce the save of the match after his left footed effort was diverted outside the post by a spectacular acrobatic dive.

The resultant corner was met with a similarly impressive save from Canavan, who stopped a point blank flick on header from Kelly.

Newcastle’s purple patch had well and truly ended and this was signified further when Celtic doubled their lead through skipper Michael Rice.

After a long ball into the box looped over the Seasiders’ defence, the ball rolled invitingly out for Rice to toe poke beyond the impressive Canavan with 12 minutes left on the clock.

The home outfit were not one to give up and went in search of the goal that would set up a nervous last few moments for their opponents.

Corr almost awarded his side this opportunity when the ball landed at the veteran’s feet with only Curran to beat.

However, the stubborn Celtic custodian refused to be bettered and spread his six foot frame as wide as he could to narrow the target and deny the certain goal.

Moments later, Celtic’s Peter Casey was clattered in the middle of the park but referee Kelly waved on the advantage which turned out to be an important call.

Megahey gathered the loose ball on the right hand side of the pitch, before squaring a pass to Gibney, who struck a curling effort into the top right corner of the net to round off the scoring.

Resilient to the end, Newcastle launched one last attack in search of a consolation goal.

Despite the ball hitting the Celtic post in the midst of a goalmouth scramble, Newcastle captain Brunsdon couldn’t supply the required rebound and the referee blew his whistle for the final time.

After the contest, man of the match Corey McCartan gave his thoughts on his side’s performance and winning start to the year.

“All of the boys worked hard, especially coming back from a few weeks off after Christmas,” he said.

“It was a hard game and everyone was still stiff, so I think it was physically tough for both teams and the weather definitely didn’t help.

“Newcastle surprised me because of how sharp they were and how high of a level their fitness was, but we got the job done and are now focused on the next game.”

Newcastle: F Canavan, C Scott, S Kelly, D Allister, J Maginn, P Brannigan, P O’Hare, L Brunsdon (capt), R McInerney, N Corr, S Kearney.

Subs: D Rooney, C McMahon, C Morrison.

Celtic Bhoys: N Curran, S Megahey, R Quinn, B Connolly, M Rice (capt), C McCartan, S Galbraith, P Casey, J Gibney, J McCoubrey, C Kerr.

Subs: R Fitzpatrick, E Kelly, S McMahon.

Referee: Peter Kelly.