McMenamin spurs Bhoys to Old Firm spoils and title

McMenamin spurs Bhoys to Old Firm spoils and title

19 April 2017

THE footballing gods sprinkled stardust all over Celtic Bhoys seconds when they beat Valley Rangers Colts at Binnian Park on Saturday to clinch the Newcastle League Division 2 title.

And no one glittered more than former West Bromich Albion trainee B J McMenamin, whose two goals would have graced any game.

He was aided an abetted by strikes from Timmy Collins and Jay Gibney as Mark Leahy’s charges came from behind to see off their Old Firm rivals and title challengers in style.

Celtic went into the game knowing that three points from their last two games would be good enough to secure league silverware at only the second attempt and they didn’t disappoint.

Both sides started tentatively, but the game exploded into life in the 11th minute when a Vincey Perry header crashed into the woodwork with ‘keeper Richard Shannon beaten.

Ten minutes later McMenamin worked his way clear of the Valley defence, but inexplicably shot straight at Shannon with the goal at his mercy.

Celtic were to pay for this miss two minutes later when the lethal Matthew Burns, who has scored 40 goals this season, seared past Timmy Collins out on the right and put the ball on a plate for Matthew Haugh to open the scoring for Valley against the run of play.

However, McMenamin, a former Glentoran and Larne midfielder, more than made amends for his earlier miss when he expertly volleyed in an exquisite equaliser from outside the box in the 34th minute after Jay Gibney forced Shannon and Steve McGuffin into giving the ball away.  

Celtic now had their tails up and six minutes later Collins drilled in a beauty after the Valley defence failed to clear their lines following a corner.

As the first half drew to a close, McMenamin had a stinging shot saved by Shannon and Jay Gibney had his head in his hands after directing a magical cross from McMenamin onto the crossbar with Shannon nowhere in sight.

Celtic played into a stiff breeze in the second half, but they continued to dominate with Liam Gibney controlling affairs and the pace of the game from a withdrawn role in front of the two strikers.

The Hoops should have made it 3-1 after 50 minutes, but Perry headed a McMenamin corner wide. A game Valley side retaliated quickly and Conor McCullough earned his Easter egg with a fine save to deny the rampaging Burns.

Celtic regained control with Niall Gordon, Gareth Rooney, Dylan Duffy, better known for his exploits in a boxing ring and Collins forming an impregnable barrier at the back.

This enabled McMenamin to work his magic and twice inside the space of a few minutes he fired in efforts that were just off target.

The Hoops finally made it 3-1 in the 56th minute when Liam Gibney and McMenamin unselfishly combined to release Jay Gibney and the young striker obliged with unerring accuracy.

McMenamin added an extra insurance goal four minutes later when he volleyed in another cracker, but Rodney McBride’s side refused to throw in the towel and Burns was the provider again when he created an opening for Sammy Gordon to make it 4-2.

Celtic simply closed up shop in the dying stages, but had to rely on McCullough to make several important saves before they could celebrate in style when referee Neil Cousins blew the final whistle.

Valley Rangers Colts: R Shannon, S McGuffin, N Ardis, J Annett, T Graham, K Porter, M Haugh, J Hewitt, M Burns, A Patterson, S Gordon. Subs: R Wilson, A Flanagan, R Stevenson, W Baird.

Celtic Bhoys II: C McCullough, T Collins, D Duffy, G Rooney, N Gordon, V Perry, C MacNabb, B J McMenamin, J Gibney, L Gibney, D Wilson. Subs: C Curran, J O’Connor, T Maguire, O O’Connor.