Leaders Celtic made the first of two trips in three weeks to Ballymoney in a quest for three points and came back with a 5-0 win.
The Hoops kicked off with the advantage of a strong gale force and from the outset Ballymoney set up for a damage limitation exercise but Celtic went on the offensive from the start with Niall Lavery heading a Declan McVeigh cross which brought a terrific save from keeper Bryan Moore.
Chris Lavery then got in on the action when he fed Daniel Ryan who headed over and a minute later ran across the box leaving several defenders in his wake and shot narrowly wide. The deadlock was broken in 13 minutes when Ryan ran down the right and crossed for Chris Lavery to tap in at the near post. The drive forward continued with Moore saving from Niall Lavery and Josh Barton hit a terrific shot which Moore saved. The game was turning into a duel between Moore in the Ballymoney goal and the Celtic forwards and on the half hour Chris Lavery weaved past four defenders to force a save from the already overworked Moore. By this stage Celtic should have been out of sight but eventually the second goal arrived on 39 minutes when Chris Lavery cut down the left and played the ball across to Ryan on the right who in turn crossed for Raymond Fitzpatrick to find the net and just before the break the third goal arrived after a corner from Niall Lavery sailed directly into the top corner.
At the restart United had their only shot on target when the ball was fired upfield but Conor McCorry in the Celtic goal took it easily with the Hoops going back upfield with Fitzpatrick hitting the post with an vicious shot but on 53 minutes the lead was extended after a quick break saw Niall Lavery play Chris Lavery in and he raced through to slip the ball past Moore.
In the 67th minute Dale Malone and Jason Rogers replaced Colly Rooney and Barton who had both put in good displays.
Sub Conor Hagan drove upfield and made the pass of the game to send Ryan bearing down on goal and he guided home to complete the scoring at 5-0. Right on the whistle there was total confusion after John Cochrane was shown a red card .
Overall this was a was another good team display in which every player contributed but the McLeans Man of the Match was awarded to Adam Rodgers.
This week the Hoops have a free week and resume business with another trip to Ballymoney on the 21st March to play Glebe Rangers at the same venue.
The Celtic Youth team clinched the section A Mid Ulster Juvenile last week with an 8-0 win away to St. Mary’s at Kernan with McCann, Douglas, Lavery, Gilvary and Duff among the goals for the second trophy of the season - well done to all involved.