AFTER the fine 4-2 victory away to Wakehurst last Tuesday Lurgan Celtic were on the road once more to play Chimney Corner in fixture that yielded a shock result last season when the Hoops went down to the only goal of the game in the final minutes and this time Celtic were in a determined mood to redress that setback.
Playing into a blustery wind Celtic found the ball difficult to control in the early exchanges, but the back four of Declan McVeigh, Paul Donegan, Conor McAnallen and Ciaran McEvoy kept things very tight at the back while up front Aaron Haire, Raymond Fitzpatrick and Daniel Ryan put the home side under pressure with clever interchanging of positions as the Hoops sought to gain a foothold on the game.
Fitzpatrick had a header scrambled away by some desperate defending in the opening minutes. The Hoops pressure told on 20 minutes after Haire forced the ball in and Fitzpatrick played it out to the left where Ryan took control and cut in to unleash a piledriver in to the net putting the Hoops in front.
This was the signal for a Celtic onslought and McEvoy was unlucky when his header from a corner crashed off the bar with the keeper beaten Shortly after this Haire had to leave the action suffering a groin strain and was replaced by Michael Toland, but the Hoops increased the lead on 39 minutes after Niall Lavery’s free kick was headed firmly home by Fitzpatrick leaving the Hoops 2-0 up at the break.
With the wind at their back in the second half Celtic ran riot and turned the game into a rout Ryan broke inside from the right on 48 minutes crashing the ball past a helpless keeper and four minutes later got his hat-trick with a similar effort.
Fitzpatrick claimed his hat-trick with two well taken goals leaving the score 6-0 on the hour mark. By this time Shane McCabe had come on and Connor McAnallen had moved to midfield as the Hoops went about their business in a ruthless manner and Fox was called into action to make a save in the only direct shot by the home side in the second period. Ryan scored his fourth and Celtic’s seventh when he took the ball near the penalty spot and curled a low shot into the keepers right hand corner to finish the scoring.
Fitzpatrick left to give Paul McAnallen some game time as the game was played out to its conclusion.
This win is the Hoops fifth victory on the trot and with Shannon Drainey, Steven Boyd and Brendan Mackin all to return from injury the squad now enters a crucial stage of the season in the promotion chase. This Saturday Glebe Rangers visit Knockramer kick-off 3.00pm after the Tuesday night game against Sport and Leisure.
The following week Celtic play Banbridge Town twice a Mid Ulster Cup game on Monday 22nd and a league game on Wednesday 24th, both at Banbridge kick-off is 7.00pm before a massive game against Armagh City the following Saturday - a ridiculous schedule for amateur players and this must surely be looked at by the powers to be in both the IFA and Mid Ulster for next season.