Ardglass win through in nine goal Bobby Dalzell semi-final against Celtic Bhoys Academy
The Newcastle and District Amateur Football League,
NFU Bobby Dalzell Cup Semi-Final,
Venue: Ballyhornan, 24th November 2023.
Final Score: Celtic Bhoys Academy 4. 5. Ardglass FC.
This Bobby Dalzell semi-final shaped up to be an absolute firecracker of a match with Celtic Boys Academy fielding several of their first team players showing their intent to claim a victory over sea-siders Ardglass writes Jim Masson.
Although at times the quality of soccer left something to be desired with too many high balls, you could not fault the tremendous commitment from both sides on an absolutely freezing cold night at Ballyhornan.
It proved almost a case of the irresistable force meeting the immovable object – almost.
Both teams started cautiously challenging each others defences from the start. Celtic pressed forward on the left but they faced a focussed defender Malachy Crangle who made a number of useful clearances certainly preventing at least one early goal.
A long ball from the Ardglass half to forward John Beattie saw him rush the Celtic keeper Stephen Moore and almost nick the ball into the goal at an acute angle close in but was blocked by defender Matthew McKee.
The action jerked to and fro then in the 7th minute Conaill Kerr headed a cross into the bottom of the Ardglass net rolling past keeper James Crangle. First blood for Celtic Bhoys.
Celtic were up on their toes boosted by the early goal and stepped up the pressure on Ardglass and at that point the game got more competitive physically with Celtic’s Christopher Mullan picking up a yellow card for a foul on Ronan Deegan.
As the teams locked horns, it was Celtic who were breaking fast more and passing sharply. Sean Ferris was already contending to score and was denied by keeper Crangle after a spot perfect cross to him from the right as he lurked in the box.
But Ardglass kept their nerve in the teeth of the Celtic pressure and Jordan Finnegan seized his moment and scored with a header after a corner for Ardglass.
Seven minutes later Ardglass went into the lead with a brilliant Michael Clarke special right footing a curling ball from almost 10 yards inside his own box over the head of the Celtic keeper into the top of the net. This lifted Ardglass up a few notches and removed the creeping anxiety that was seeping in of being over-run by a rampant Celtic.
But just when they thought they were safe, Ardglass were trumped when Chris Mullan scored a minute later in a snap goal from the back of the Ardglass box equalising.
Ardglass were showing a clear sense of control and discipline and applied themselves to the task in hand.
Ardglass replied with a quick attack and Beattie again almost scored as he wove his way through the defence to the Celtic goal.
Celtic flew back at Ardglass and defender Michael Clarke made a crucial block from a volley by Jay McStravick. And the sea-siders then mustered another attack threatening the goal area.
Just then Celtic broke fast and raced up the pitch and Kerr cross to Sean Ferris who slotted the ball in at close quarters putting Celtic in the lead 3 minutes before half time – a psychological advantage after Ardglass having had a spell of dominance.
On 48 minutes just after the restart, Ferris again struck like a cobra chasing a long ball down and beat keeper Crangle to it and chipped over his head for another goal shocking Ardglass on 4-2.
Owen Curran replaced James Telford who was carrying a yellow card and at risk of a red as the action became more physical. Curran quickened the pace immediately and signalled that Ardglass had more under their belt. Michael Magee was too coming to life and starting to find openings in the Celtic defence.
It was then Ardglass’ time to break after sustained Celtic pressure and Michael Magee found the ball within a comfortable striking distance and popped it into the Celtic net pulling a goal back. This lifted again his side.
Then minutes later a clever Finnegan dummy almost set Beattie up with a shot close to the Celtic goal. The game was now finely poised for a real show down. Michael Magee then hit as great volley but it went just wide.
Then in the 61st minute, Beattie nailed a header into the Celtic net to level the score once more. With 4 goals apiece, the next goal could be the decider, or the teams faced extra time in the freezing cold conditions at Ballyhornan.
Jamie McDarby then made a terrific solo run at the Celtic goal from within his own half and struck an excellent shot but it just rose a fraction over the bar.
In the latter stage of the game, it was Ardglass who appeared to be more dominant, but Celtic could never be written off as they were capable of very quick attacks from no-where.
Ardglass pushed forward with several breaks and won a couple of corners as Celtic seemed to slow on their forays into their opponents half.
Beattie was working hard for his side and exploring all avenues to a goal as Ardglass kept pressing forward but they had just missed some real opportunities and the match was still there to be won… or lost!
Then in the 90th minute just as extra time was pending, Jamie McDarby who had a great game throughout, seized the moment after his team mates tried several times to breach the Celtic goal line and hit a volley from outside the box on the left beating keeper Stephen Moore.
This was the coffin nail that Ardglass was looking for and it would be difficult for Celtic to rise from this fatal blow within the time available.
Ardglass had shown that they could face determined opponents and come through with a win with at least five of their players demonstrating they can score a goal when the chips are down.
Credit must go to Celtic Bhoys Academy who showed they could play fast, exciting soccer which certainly entertained the big crowd at Ballyhornan in this memorable semi-final.
Celtic Bhoys: 1 Stephen Moore 2 Shaum Megahey 3 Matthew McKee 4 Daibhi Ennis 5 Paul Brady 6 Patrick Ferris (C) 7 Christopher Mullan 8 Conor Doherty 9 Michael Burms 10 Sean Ferris 11 Conaill Kerr. Subs: 12 Jay McStravick 14 Sean McMahon 15 Aidan Connolly 16 Christopher McDowell 17 James Dean McCreesh.
Ardglass FC: 1 James Crangle 2 Malachy Crangle 3 James Telford 4 Caolain O’Shea 5 Ronan Deegan 6 Jordan Finnegan 8 Michael Clarke 9 Michael Magee 10 John Beattie 11 Jamie McDarby 15 Aidan Watson. Subs: 7 Matthew Rooney 12 Martin Halpin 14 Shea Dorrian 16 Jordan Deegans 17 Owen Curran.