Lurgan Celtic marched into the semi-finals of the under 16s’ Lisburn League Cup thanks to a well-earned 3-2 win over Newry City.
Despite difficult weather conditions and the risk of complacency due to success in the previous meeting between the sides, Celtic proved impressive across the tie.
Barry Creaney’s acrobatic volley from distance kicked off the Celtic scoring before a long-range Patrick McGibbon free-kick found the top corner.
Newry cut the gap before half-time but the tie’s crucial fourth goal helped to restore Celtic’s cushion, with Josh Gallery capping a flowing team move.
A fine penalty save left Newry frustrated and Celtic remained a threat on the break.
Newry closed the deficit in the closing stages but Celtic worked hard to protect the lead until the final whistle.
“These lads know it takes hard work to win games in this league, which is very competitive and especially with a semi-final spot at place,” said a club representative. “From the first whistle you could sense Newry looking to cause an upset, closing down Celtic and trying to stop the boys playing their free-flowing football.
“But the lads kept the ball on the ground, passing and moving.”
Lurgan Celtic under 13s added another win to the League Cup group programme with a 3-1 defeat of Banbridge Rangers.
It handed a first defeat of the competition to Rangers as Celtic extended the run of maximum returns.
Antoin McParland hit the crossbar off an early free-kick and Celtic pressure produced the opening goal as Dylan McEnoy raced clear to convert a sliderule pass by Oisin Ginesi.
Niall Magennis, Odhran Meegan, Cian McCrory and Odhran Lavery battled up to the break to protect the clean sheet.
Celtic increased the upper hand after the interval thanks to Jay Connor’s hard work.
Connor charged down an attempted clearance by the Banbridge goalkeeper then reacted first to slot home the loose ball.
Rangers’ response included a goal and period of pressure but Celtic made it 3-1 thanks to McEnoy’s measured finish.
The Hannon twins, Hugh and Jack, proved impressive alongside McParland and Ginesi.
“Having previously lost to Banbridge Rangers earlier in the season, this is a clear indication that this young group of Lurgan Celtic Bhoys are progressing nicely, with all 18 squad members playing their part on the training ground and during games,” said a club representative. “All the coaches of this group are proud of each and every one of them.”