GWEEDORE CELTIC remain in pole position to retain the Brian McCormick Sports Premier League with this victory over Kilmacrennan Celtic in a top four clash at the Screaban on Sunday afternoon.
Gweedore Celtic 3
Kilmacrennan Celtic 0
The reigning champions held a six point advantage over second placed Glenea United ahead of Sunday’s fixture. And thanks to this 3-0 victory and Glenea United’s 2-1 win over Milford United, they still hold a six-point advantage with six games still to play, one less than Glenea who have a game in hand on Hughie Rua Gallagher’s side .
Tomas Diver scored two of the goals with his partner up front Colin Ferry netting the other; all three goals were scored in the second half.
There may have been a sense of good fortune about Diver’s first when he converted from the penalty spot after Liam McBride, the Kilmacrennan keeper, was harshly adjudged by the referee Paddy Duffy to have tripped the Gweedore striker.
The general consensus afterwards from both camps was that McBride got the ball and flicked it away from the boot of Diver.
Nevertheless, while the penalty was a key moment, the reality is also that the eventual winners were the better side and fully merited the win and were in no way flattered by their three goal winning margin.
The only mystery at the finish was that they had not a couple more to spare as they dominated for long periods and had peppered the Kilmacrennan goal, especially in the first half.
Diver, Gary Whoriskey and Darren O’Sullivan went close to breaking the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes.
And indeed but for a little wayward finishing and a number of top class saves from McBride, the winners could have been in the driving seat at half-time and at least two, if not three up.
McBride, who had a fine game, saved from point blank to deny both Diver and O’Sullivan, while Whoriskey saw a corner come back off the post with Diver also heading over the top from close range.
In fairness to Kilmacrennan, who needed the points to retain any hope they had of catching the leaders, did ask questions early on and kept Michael McKelvey busy in the Gweedore goals.
Philip Buchanan on a couple occasions from half chances went close while Kevin McMenamin was denied from a 30-yard free by the crossbar with McKelvey beaten, inside six minutes.
Diver’s first arrived within three minutes of the restart and it was two nil three minutes later when Ferry connected with a teasing cross from Gary Whoriskey to give McBride no chance from five metres.
Leading 2-0 six minutes into the second half, the game as a contest was as good as over. Kilmacrennan did not help their cause when they lost their composure and concentration as both Marty McAteer and Mark Friel picked up yellow cards in quick succession for dissent.
With Gweedore more or less in control there was an air of inevitability about the third goal. And it duly arrived on 74 minutes when Diver turned to drill home an Eamonn Cannon centre. Game over.
Both Paul Rua Gallagher and Sean Sandilands - who was banished outside the fence for the final quarter for dissent - made changes in the closing minutes as the game ambled to an inevitable conclusion.
Gweedore Celtic: Michael McKelvey; Jamie Boyle, David Ward, Shane Barr, David McGee, Gary Whoriskey (Paul Rua McBride 82), Damien O’Sullivan, Eamon Cannon, Odhran McNiallais (Anthony Blair 77); Thomas Diver, Colin Ferry (Fionan Diver 2).
Killmacrennan Celtic: Liam McBride; Aidan Friel, Kevin McMenamin; Kieran Gorman, Darren Toland (Gavin Gorman 77), Seamie McLaughlin, (John Sandilands 63), Mark Friel, Marty McAteer, Timmy Burke, Eddie Doherty (Michael McLaughlin 77), Philip Buchanan.
Referee: Paddy Duffy.
Man of the match
Tomas Diver scored two goals and with bit of luck could have easily scored four, such was his threat up front throughout.
He receives the nod ahead of his team mates Gary Whoriskey, Odhran MacNiallais, Colin Ferry and Eamonn Cannon, who were all in illuminating form for the winners.
Goalkeeper Liam McBride was Kilmacrennan’s best player, while Ciaran Gorman, Kevin McMenamin, Darren Toland and Philip Buchanan also put in decent shifts for the visitors.
Gweedore’s first goal. Tomas Diver’s controversial penalty, immediately after half-time was the breakthrough score and opened the door. But it was the second from Colin Ferry, three minutes later, from a Gary Whoriskey cross that really broke Kilmacrennan’s resolve and really dashed any hope of the visitors making a bid for it in the second half.
Paddy Duffy is not Kilmacrennan’s favourite official this week after he adjudged that Liam McBride had tripped Tomas Diver for the penalty that led to the game’s opening goal.
In fairness to the official it was a tight call, but the general consensus afterwards even from the Gweedore camp was that it was not a penalty and that McBride had played the ball and Diver tripped over him.
While it was a big call, I don’t think it greatly influenced the outcome. Going on the first half there was an air of inevitability about the outcome at half-time. That apart, Duffy had a reasonably good day out.