Lurgan Celtic took the honours in the first ever league meeting against close neighbours Dollingstown last Saturday at Knockramer Park.
The visitors began the brighter playing good football and Hoops keeper Michael Goff was called into action after 5 minutes when he had to turn a snap shop over the bar as it looked destined for his top left hand corner.
Although little separated the sides in the opening half hour it would be fair to say Dollingstown controlled the midfield sector. The Hoops front three of Raymond Fitzpatrick, Daniel Ryan and Chris Lavery always looked threatening going forward with the latter hitting the post on the half hour mark and the ball being cleared as Ryan moved in on the rebound. By this stage defences were dealing with any threat from both sets of attackers.Fitzpatrick then spurned two chances to open the scoring being wide of the mark on both occasions.
A minute prior to half-time Ryan was penalised for a poor tackle as he tried to retrieve an overhit ball and players from both sides got involved in a melee which was soon sorted out but Dollingstown’s Neil King and Ryan were sent off by referee Tim Marshall.
During the half time interval manager Colin Malone withdrew Colly Rooney as he was on a yellow card and replaced him with Ryan Henderson for only his second appearance of the campaign slightly altering the formation and within 10 minutes of the restart a tiring Conor Hagan made way for Niall Lavery.
Both teams continued to search for the elusive breakthrough and by this stage it appeared that a single goal could well settle the outcome with Celtic by this stage looking more dangerous than in the opening half.
On 70 minutes the deadlock was broken when Declan McVeigh, who was outstanding throughout for Celtic, fired over a superb cross from the right and Fitzpatrick calmly flicked a deft header into the bottom left of the Dollingstown net with the keeper rooted helplessly to the spot for his eighth goal in six league games.
Stung by this reverse Dollingstown went all out for an equaliser with Montgomery heading against the bar with Goff vainly stretching for the ball. The striker missed a gilt edged chance when he broke through and shot wide from 10 yards with the Hoops keeper isolated.
Five minutes from time Celtic wrapped up the points after Fitzpatrick had a shot parried by the keeper and Lavery rammed the ball home from close range.
Despite the sendings off and a clutch of yellow cards being issued to both teams this was a hard fought sporting contest between two committed sides with Celtic just edging it.
The McLeans Man of the Match for Celtic was awarded to captain Raymond Fitzpatrick.
This week the Hoops travel to Castledawson to play Wakehurst.