FIRST-HALF GOALS by former Finn Harps players Micheál Doherty and Niall Bonner fired Orchard FC to the top of the Old Orchard Saturday League.
Orchard FC 2 Drumbar Celtic 0
For bottom-of-the-table Drumbar Celtic, the season has become an ordeal and a struggle all at once and they find themselves mired without a point and eight points of a gap to nearest side Mulroy Celtic.
For Sean O’Donnell’s Orchard, they are now enjoying the view from the summit as they climbed above Arranmore United thanks to Doherty’s penalty and Bonner’s well-taken second.
At this level, players of their refinement are in a different world and there was a clear gulf between the teams.
The pitch at the Letterkenny Community Centre resembled a glue pot, at best, and there was mild surprise from some when match referee, Mick Lagan, gave it the nod beforehand.
The underfoot conditions certainly didn’t make things easy for the participants, but there was something of the inevitable feel about it when Orchard took the lead just six minutes in.
Bonner ran in to marginally beat the offside past. Just as he stepped around Drumbar ‘keeper Daniel Gallagher, Bonner had the heels clipped and Lagan pointed to the spot.
Doherty assumed responsibility and he converted. It wasn’t his best attempt and as he mis-hit the shot, his hands went to the head, but Gallagher dived beneath the ball and Doherty was spared.
A Doherty free kick that deflected out for a corner was about the only other noteworthy incident of the first period before Orchard grabbed a second three minutes before the break.
Doherty scooped a teasing ball in around the back for Bonner, who showed his class with a delightful first touch to take control and an exquisite next touch doubled the lead.
Drumbar did have their moments and Thomas McLaughlin, Orchard’s goalkeeper, spared his own blushes when he saved at the feet of Rahman Balogun, who’d intercepted a stray kickout.
Defender Daniel Bennett headed over for the visitors and fired another effort into McLaughlin’s hands from distance.
There was never any doubt about the destination of the points here, although Conor McBrearty, a second-half sub, did come close to extending the advantage, but a fine prodded effort crashed off the crossbar.
Orchard FC: Thomas McLaughlin; John Doran, Rory O’Gorman, Gerard Roulstone, Bernard McMenamin; Sean Sweeney (Redmond Doherty 73), Charlie Creavy (Paddy McLaughlin ’62), Joe McCarron, Vinny McLaughlin (Conor McBrearty ’50); Micheál Doherty, Niall Bonner.
Drumbar Celtic: Daniel Gallagher; David Charles, Daniel Bennett, Kevin Martin, Shane Browne; Enda Brogan (Alex McNelis ’73) Aidan Cassidy (Keelan Keaney ‘62), Conrad Clarke, David Giblin; Rahman Balogun, Ciaran Nixon.
Referee: Mick Lagan.