RATHMULLAN CELTIC won the Milford Inn Division One for the first time in their history on Sunday after a 2-1 win over fellow promotion hopefuls St Catherine’s.
Rathmullan Celtic 2
St Catherine’s 1
Goals from Darragh Patton and Eoin Sheridan either side of Jason Noctor’s penalty brought unbridled joy for the side managed by Mark Curran and Dessie McLaughlin.
And having never won a league championship in their history the Seasiders have now won two in succession, adding to their CT Ball Division Two title won 12 months ago in Kerrykeel.
St Catherine’s, who had their numbers decimated due to injury and Killybegs’ participation in the Ulster Club League final against Ballinderry, have been the second best team all season but they require a point from their last outing of the season against Dunlewey Celtic to confirm that. And just like last year, when Eany Celtic won the division at Emerald Park, Brian Dorrian and his team had to fulfil the role of bridesmaids.
Still though, a return to the Brian McCormick Sports Premier Division could conclude a decent season for St Catherine’s and for a while on Sunday they looked like they were going to grab the draw that would’ve been enough for them to get promoted. That would’ve meant the Rathmullan champagne would’ve had to be re-shelved for a while at least.
The first half was a nervy one for the hosts on the bumpy surface. A big crowd on the first real weekend of summer had wandered to see the what the fuss was about and Rathmullan was a hive of activity.
St Catherine’s were missing top-scorer Barry Cannon and Shane Molloy through GAA commitments, while Daniel Breslin has been out since the turn of the year with the Gilmore’s groin injury.
The only real incident of note in the first 45 minutes was Patton’s opener. The former Fanad United frontman scored his 18th league goal of the season on 17 minutes when he stooped to head home from close in after Paddy Sheridan had flicked the ball into his path.
St Catherine’s had held their own in the first half without really creating much but were much more assertive in the second period.
However, their goalkeeper Shane O’Gara was a little fortunate to get away with a clearance that was intercepted by Patton. The Rathmullan forward controlled the ball into his path but referee Ed Moore penalised the hosts for offside, as Eamon Sheridan was in the vacinity, although he pleaded his inactivity.
Throwing caution to the wind, St Catherine’s passed up a glorious opportunity to level on 56 minutes. Rathmullan central defender Paddy Sheridan lost his footing and Jason Noctor broke through. The St Catherine’s midfielder saw his shot saved by Denis Sheridan in a one-on-one situation and Conor Blaine blazed over from the rebound.
Moore had shown who was boss prior to kick-off when he made the home club paint the technichal area and with 19 minutes to go the match referee awarded St Catherine’s a bemusing penalty.
Seamus McLaughlin was penalised for a tug on Noctor following a devilish delivery from Conor O’Rourke. There were no appeals but with the side from the south-west of the county having bother from the spot all season - having missed five - there was still work to be done. Noctor rolled the penalty home.
At that stage St Catherine’s were on top but there was a sudden change in the script. Sean Barrett missed a great chance from no more that eight yards when he blazed wide in a crowded penalty area.
However, Eoin Sheridan soon rectified things. Following a corner from Paddy Sheridan that was only partially cleared, time almost stood still for a second before he headed home what proved to be the winning goal.
From then on, although St Catherine’s pushed for a second equaliser, the well supported hosts did enough to hold on for a second title before the party started.
Rathmullan Celtic: Denis Sheridan; Christopher Barrett, Paddy Sheridan, Sean Barrett, David Millar; Seamus McLaughlin, Eoin Sheridan, Aaron McClafferty (Ryan Connolly 56), Paddy Sheridan (David Edwards 80); Eamon Sheridan, Darragh Patton.
St Catherine’s: Shane O’Gara; Conor O’Rourke, David Conwell (Gerry McCabe 81), Charlie Smith, Stephen Leslie; Ryan Farrell, Jason Noctor, Shane O’Rourke, Paul Murrin (Rory Murray 65); Ryan McCloskey, Conor Blaine.
Referee: Ed Moore.