COCKHILL CELTIC’S drive for five is showing no signs of letting up after a hard-fought, hard-earned win over Fanad United at Triagh-A-Loch.
Fanad United 1 Cockhill Celtic 2
Gavin Cullen’s team moved five points clear at the top of the pile and, with a game in hand, their quest for a fifth successive Ulster Senior League crown is really gaining momentum.
The Champions have only dropped two points – in a 2-2 draw with Letterkenny Rovers – this season so far and they are in a position of real command after goals by Garbhán Friel and Gerry Gill.
Those strikes, one in each half, put them in control. By the time John McGarvey, a substitute, fired in for Fanad in the 93rd minute, the home side had run out of chances.[adrotate group=”88″]
Fanad, who came into this one with a chance to go top, made Cockhill earn their corn here.
Cockhill played the last 14 minutes with ten men after Derek Doherty was given a second yellow card and there was a nip in the Triagh-A-Loch air in more ways than one.
The stakes were high and the mercury – particularly in the themometres of the two dugouts – rose considerably at times.[adrotate group=”80″]
Fanad felt that they should have had a penalty in the 75th minute when Daire McDaid, growing into the game at that point, appeared to be clattered by Cockhill ‘keeper Harry Doherty.
Fanad’s appeals certainly seemed to have foundation, but referee Marty Quinn dismissed the claims.
Cockhill took the lead in the 41st minute when Friel netted from the spot after Kieran Gorman’s foul on the big Cockhill striker.
Friel rolled into one corner and, after being ordered to retake the kick, slotted into the other with his second attempt to give the Inishowen men the lead and bag his first League goal of the campaign.
Cockhill’s second goal, three minutes from the end, had a stroke of fortune about it. Gill and Friel worked a short-corner with Friel’s cross deceiving Oran Blaney, Fanad’s goalkeeper, and creeping into the far corner.
It had been a game of few chances, though.
Doherty had to be on his game to keep out Shaun McElwaine’s header after the big defender connected with Marty McAteer’s inviting free-kick. With Davitt Walsh lurking, Doherty clawed away again.[adrotate group=”76″]
Cockhill, smarting from last weekend’s Intermediate Cup loss at College Corinthians, didn’t create too much, with Jonny Havlin heading wide from Gill’s free-kick.
Friel’s penalty had the visitors ahead at the break and Jimmy Bradley might’ve done better when Friel and Ryan Varma combined to set up a shot on goal, but he rolled wide from 20 yards.
McDaid smashed just off target and then saw a powerful effort held by Doherty as Fanad went in search of a leveller.[adrotate group=”46″]
They did manage to find a way through, after Gill had doubled the lead, when McGarvey converted from Martin McElhinney’s cross and it was too late to summonse one last push.
This was Fanad’s last game before the Christmas break while Cockhill could open up an eight-point lead at the summit next Sunday should they defeat Finn Harps Reserves.
Catching them from here will take some doing.
Fanad United: Oran Blaney; Oisin Langan, Shaun McElwaine, Kieran Gorman, Seimi ‘Nanny’ Friel; Marty McAteer, Matthew Crossan, Daire McDaid, Killian Gallagher; Keelin McElwaine, Davitt Walsh. Subs: Martin McElhinney for Gallagher (58), Conor Blaney for Walsh (80), John McGarvey for McAteer (80).
Cockhill Celtic: Harry Doherty; Derek Doherty, Peter Doherty, Jonny Havlin, Jason Breslin; Conor Keddy, Jimmy Bradley, Ryan Varma, Ronan Doherty; Garbhán Friel, Gerry Gill. Sub: Gerard McLaughlin for R.Doherty (87).
Referee: Marty Quinn.Tags: