Ballymoney deliver another blow to badly depleted Hoops

Lurgan Celtic's Brendan Mackin gets in between two Ballymoney markers. INLM37-715.
Lurgan Celtic's Brendan Mackin gets in between two Ballymoney markers. INLM37-715.

The season may only a few weeks old but already it proving frustrating for Lurgan Celtic with just one win from four league games.

Last week the badly depleted side crashed to a 4-0 home defeat to Ballymoney United, giving the visitors their first win over the Hoops since they came into Championship 2.

Celtic were missing Conor and Paul McAnallen, Sam Marshall, Stephen Boyd, Ronan O’Hara and Stephen McArdle and had two players coming out of retirement in Stevie Magennis and John Campbell in the squad.

Both sides started out brightly and Celtic took the game to their opponents but went behind in the 10th minute after conceding a free kick just outside the box and McGaughan scored directly past a poor defensive wall.

Stung by this reverse the Hoops went on the attack but were nearly caught out after Brendan Mackin played a slack pass but Ciaran Fox in the Hoops goal came to the rescue.

After this scare the Hoops resumed on the attack when Raymond Fitzpatrick combined with Michael Toland but shot wide.

On 25 minutes Celtic were awarded a penalty when Toland was tripped dribbling into the area but to the dismay of the Hoops supporters Fitzpatrick hit a weak penalty which the keeper parried and Toland, following up, delayed and his shot and it was cleared.

Despite efforts from Magennis and Fitzpatrick Celtic failed to find a breakthrough although they stayed well in contention with Caolan Campbell starting some promising moves down the left flank and the visitors were reduced to 10 men just prior to the half time break when McFerran lashed out with his boot at Campbell and was shown a straight red.

The feeling at half time was that it was a matter of time before the Hoops would even the game but within three minutes of the restart found themselves two down after a poor pass out of defence left Shane McCabe exposed and when he failed to control the ball Gillan nipped in to score.

Left with a mountain to climb Celtic pressed hard but couldn’t unlock the defence and McCabe went off injured to be replaced by Youth team player Declan Heaney for his first taste of Irish League Football.

Ballymoney were the team playing like they had a man advantage although Magennis came close for Celtic when he broke through and saw his shot saved by the keeper and the follow up cleared off the line by a defender. shortly after this Magennis was replaced by John Campbell but after a few sorties which came to nothing Ballymoney extended the lead.

Caolan Campbell then picked up a second yellow and was sent off after a mistimed tackle and his father John had to leave injured to be replaced by Jamie Collins.

All in all it was a dismal day for the Hoops when everything seemed to conspire against them but they need the more experienced players back for this weeks Radcliffe Cup game at Armagh and take note the kick-off is 2.30pm.

After an encouraging start the Hoops are now down at the lower regions of the table and with 1 win from 4 league games they simply have to start picking up points to move up the table in a league where everybody is capable of beating each other on any given day.

The club have organised a sponsored walk on Slieve Donard to raise funds and this will be held on Sunday 22nd September with the participants going to O’Hares for a meal and a viewing of the All Ireland Final between Mayo and Dublin, further details will be next week.