Neeson goal keeps Lifford Celtic on track to retain Donegal League Premier title

Neeson goal keeps Lifford Celtic on track to retain Donegal League Premier title
The champions Lifford Celtic moved into second spot in the Premier Division when Mark Neeson fired them to victory over Kilmcrennan on Sunday.

The champions Lifford Celtic moved into second spot in the Premier Division when Mark Neeson fired them to victory over Kilmcrennan on Sunday.

It was another crucial victory for the Border club who maintain the pressure on leaders Rathmullan Celtic. Rathmullan’s push for a first Premier Division title was kept firmly on track following an impressive 4-2 win at home to Milford United.

At the other end of the table, Donegal Town moved out of the bottom three after an important 3-2 victory over Cranford United.

In the Watson Hire Division One, Kerrykeel missed out on the chance to go second after a surprising 3-0 defeat at Gweedore United.

Copany Rovers need only a point from their final match to win the CT Ball Division Two. Raphoe Town and Convoy Arsenal recorded victories yesterday.

Brian Mc Cormick Sports Premier Division

Kilmacrennan Celtic 0

Lifford Celtic 1

This game was reversed to Greenbrae Park in Lifford as both teams went in search of three points at opposite ends of the table.

The first half was a fairly even affair with few chances. Marcus McDonald came closest to scoring for Lifford following an Alan Gethins corner. Kilmacrennan started the second half brightest without causing Lee White any major trouble in the Lifford goal. The game finally sparked into life as Ross Porter rattled the Kilmacrennan crossbar on the hour mark. The only goal of the game arrived after a Kevin Mc Brearty run and shot brought a fine save from the Kilmacrennan netminder only for Mark Neeson to finish the rebound to an empty net with 20 minutes left on the clock.

For the remainder of the game Kilmacrennan pushed for an equaliser with Lifford countering. Alan Gethins had the final effort of the match with a fine volley from 20 yards only for the keeper to make a fine save.

Donegal Town 3

Cranford United 2

A late penalty from Conor McMonagle ensured that Donegal Town came out on top in this crucial relegation battle at the foot of the table.

Donegal started much the brighter and dominated the first half for long periods. Benny Byrne was a constant thorn in the side of the Cranford defenders and caused lots of problems early on. The opening goal came when Raymond Mc Groary’s free kick eluded everyone and slipped in at the back post, midway through the first half.

Donegal increased their lead on the hour mark when Benny Byrne brushed aside the Cranford centre half to power the ball home at the near post. Cranford battled hard and got back into it when Philip Buchannan flicked the ball home from a set piece. Buchannan then brought Cranford level with five minutes to go, finishing from the penalty spot having earned the spot-kick himself.

Donegal threw everything forward in search of a winner in the late stages and when Benny Byrne was pulled down inside the area McMonagle was on hand to clinch a vital three points for the Town.

Referee: Liam Farren

St. Catherines 2

Gweedore Celtic 2

St Catherines played their final home game of the league campaign against Gweedore Celtic on a fine Spring day. The home side started the brighter and on 30 minutes Jason Noctor scored a header at the back post following a deep cross from the left.

The second half saw The Saints start well again and Barry Cannon made it two-nil when his shot from 20 yards found the top corner.

Gweedore didn’t lie down and kept the pressure on the home side and on 75 minutes Damien O’Sullivan’s header found the net from a cross. The Saints had a claim for a goal waved away on 80 minutes, this spurred on Gweedore and they got the equaliser on 85 minutes after a lapse of concentration, Damien O’ Sullivan on the mark again.

Referee: Joe McHugh

Rathmullan Celtic 4

Milford United 2

Rathmullan emerged with a deserved three points from the big local derby with Milford at the Flagpole. The Hoops hit the front thanks to an early goal from Kieran Gorman but this was soon cancelled out when referee Mick Lagan awarded the visitors a penalty.

With a strong home crowd behind them the Hoops rallied in the second period and goals from Eamonn Sheridan, Paddy Sheridan and talisman Dara Patton were enough to secure the win despite sub Peter Doherty’s goal for the visitors.

The victory keeps Rathmullan at the top of the Premier Division with just two games left to play, with Lifford still hot on their heels following their 1-0 win over Kilmacrennan.

Watson Hire Division One

Gweedore United 3

Kerrykeel ’71 F.C. 0

This game played in glorious conditions in Carrickboyle saw the home side claim the three points thanks to an excellent team performance and a hat-trick from Ciaran Mc Fadden.

The game began with both sides going at each other. However, the home side broke the deadlock in the 5th minute when Ciaran McFadden, who got the ball on the halfway, rounded two defenders and finished well past Mark McConigley.

Both sides gave very little away until the 28th minute when Kerrykeel were awarded a penalty. The resulting spot kick taken by Niall Doherty was brilliantly saved by Liam Mc Fadden who was excellent on the day. The game remained 1-0 at half time. In the second half the visitors started the brightest and went in search of their equaliser with good chances falling to Mark Friel and Colin McConigley. However, McFadden in the United nets saved well on each occasion.

The home side had their own chances through Michael Connolly and Darren Ferry. They extended their lead in the 62nd minute when Darren Ferry’s excellent pass found Ciaran Mc Fadden who slotted past the oncoming Mc Conigley to make it 2-0. Kerrykeel were unlucky on a number of occasions when Mark “Sparky” Friel and Paddy McGrenaghan could have pulled one back but it just wasn’t their day. 

United ensured the points in the 77th minute when Francis Gallagher did well on the right wing and his excellent cross was well finished by Ciaran Mc Fadden to complete his hat-trick.

Referee: Paddy Melaugh

Castlefin Celtic 3

Cappry Rovers 3

With both teams looking for all three points this was always going to be an entertaining game. After five minutes Castlefin’s JP Malley chipped the visiting keeper after he was set up by Damien Mc Anenny. Castlefin doubled the lead through Matthew O’ Rourke with an excellent strike from outside the box straight into the roof of the net.

Castlefin created numerous other chances but were unable to extend their advantage. Cappry started to get into the game before half time as Aaron Kelly caused some trouble of the Castlefin defence with his dangerous crosses into the box. Cappry pulled one back straight after the restart as Darren O’Leary made no mistake from the penalty spot after a hand ball in the home area.

Cappry did most of the pressing in the second half and they found an equaliser on 60 minutes when Kevin McGlynn found himself free at the back post to tap the ball into the net. Castlefin regained the lead on 65 minutes. PJ McMenamin and Matthew O’Rourke combined to set up Malley in the box and he made no mistake from close range. With five minutes remaining Cappry found another equaliser as a corner caused a scramble in a packed Castlefin box and Stephen McDermott made it three each.

Best for Castlefin: Kieran Brennan. Best for Cappry: Kevin Mc Glynn.

Referee: Marty Quinn.

CT Ball Division Two

Raphoe Town 3

Ballybofey United 0

Raphoe welcomed Ballybofey to the Deele College grounds on what was a fine day for football. This was a game the Town had to win to keep their play-off hopes alive. Raphoe started well and played some fine passing football but were just lacking in the final third. The two Bogles were getting forward at every opportunity and kept the Ballybofey defenders on their toes.

The breakthrough came just before half time when some great play from Jamie Gallagher on the wing took him around the defender and he found Stephen Craig who finished well. Raphoe kept the pressure on in the second half and had some great chances to get a second through Gallagher, Craig and Mc Brearty but credit to a very young Ballybofey team who kept going and had a few half chances through Kelly and Gregg.

Raphoe got their second from the penalty spot when Paddy Gallagher scored. Paddy Gallagher got the third when he scored from 30 yards to round off a fine win for Raphoe.

Referee: Kevin Logue

Convoy Arsenal 1

Drumbar F.C. 0

It was a sunny spring Sunday afternoon and Convoy started off the brightest at Orchard Park. They maintained possession well but the final ball proved difficult on many occasions. On 25 minutes Ryan Carlin managed to get a shot off but found Drumbar’s keeper in fine form.

Drumbar settled after this and the game was an even, cagey affair for the remainder of the half. Convoy started the second half with an offensive attitude and Carlin was denied once again by a fine save from the Drumbar keeper.

Convoy’s persistence however, was rewarded on 70 minutes. James Kee knocked down to Jason Toner who in turn teed it up for a terrific strike from John A. Kee which rifled into the roof of the net from 18 yards.

Convoy pushed on in search of a second but Drumbar, for whom Darragh Doogan played well, held firm. Overall, this was an important three points for Convoy Arsenal.

Referee: Paddy Martin