LETTERKENNY ROVERS WERE MADE to work hard by a dogged Fanad side before eventually running out 3-1 winners on a crisp spring afternoon at Leckview Park.
Letterkenny Rovers 3 Fanad United 1
The win sees Rovers close the gap on leaders Cockhill Celtic to 3 points at the top of the Ulster Senior League table, which could make the league run-in very interesting indeed.
Fanad boss Arthur Lynch in his pre match plans would have wished his side could contain Rovers for as long as possible but those hopes were thrown awry when Rovers scored after just two minutes. Jonathan Minnock’s free kick wasn’t cleared properly and it fell to Paul Boyle and his header looped over goalkeeper Paddy Kelly and off the crossbar before falling to Christy Connaghan who had the simple task of tapping home from close range.
Fanad though came close though a Marty McAteer free kick but for the remainder of the half any chances fell to the home side with Paul McVeigh going close with a header, Darren McElwaine just wide from a free kick while David Shovlin should have scored on 24 minutes but screwed his shot wide after initially doing well to dispossess Davitt Walsh.
Ryan Lonergan then had an effort on 33 minutes before Keelin McElwaine shot high and wide for Fanad on 37 minutes when well placed.
Rovers for all their dominance only went in at the break leading by the single goal but they doubled the advantage just 73 seconds into the second half. Again it was a Minnock free kick which was the catalyst which was headed down by Darren McElwaine to the far post were the inrushing Shovlin could not miss.
The Cathedral Town men tried to get the all-important third goal and came close twice through Darren McElwaine and Steve Okakpo-Emeka after good work on both occasions from sub Kevin McGrath but it was the visitors who did manage to grab the third goal which made it nervy for the hosts.
The goal was a snapshot from Davitt Walsh from 25 yards which sneaked in at Sean Friels near post and that galvanised Fanad who through the experience of Walsh, Seimi Coshia Friel and Marty McAteer worked extremely hard on a difficult surface and did their best to force an equaliser but they did not really trouble keeper Friel in the home goal although Eoghan Rafferty and Walsh both fired efforts just wide.
Rovers did come close through Steve Okakpo-Emeka who brought out two good stops from Fanad keeper Paddy Kelly before the goal of the game and the insurance goal arrived on 86 minutes. A lung bursting run from defender Ryan Lonergan seen him scythe through the Fanad defence and he fired a ferocious cross across the area and sub Brian McVeigh gleefully hammered home against his former side to copper fasten the win.
Eamon McConigley will be glad to get the three points which see his side back to winning ways and will now focus all energies on a League Cup semi-final at Bonagee on Easter Sunday while Arthur Lynch should be pleased with how his side competed for long periods and made life difficult for Letterkenny especially after also competing very well last time out against Cockhill at home.
Letterkenny Rovers: Sean Friel, Ryan Lonergan, Jonathan Minnock, Shane Bradley, Paul Boyle, Terence Shiels, Paul McVeigh, Christy Connaghan, Darren McElwaine, Mark Forker, David Shovlin. Subs: Kevin McGrath for McVeigh (55), Steve Okakpo-Emeka for Shovlin (60), Brian McVeigh for McElwaine (76).
Fanad United: Paddy Kelly, Darren Lynch, Eric Roberts, Seimi Friel, Shaun McGarvey, Declan McGarvey, Marty McAteer,Ryan McGonigle, Cillian Gallagher, Davitt Walsh, Keelin McElwaine. Subs: Conor Blaney for McGonigle (54), John McGarvey for Gallagher (60), Eoghan Rafferty for S McGarvey (69)
Referee: Vincent McLoughlin.
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