Armagh City 3 Donegal Celtic 2
Armagh City took the spoils in this Belfast Telegraph Championship One ding-dong battle with Donegal Celtic at Holm Park on Saturday.
The local side began the stronger and took a dseserved lead on 15 minutes when a cross from Dale Montgomery found Dara Noonan at the back-post and he headed past the dispairing visiting ‘keeper Gerard McErlean.
And, four minutes later, it was 2-0 to City when Stephen Murray ran through the static Celtic back-four before blasting wide of the onrushing McErlean into the back of the net.
At this stage Armagh were cruising and looked as if they would have the game wrapped up by the interval.
They had another great chance to increase their tally on 34 minutes but Philip Donnelly dragged his shot wide when well placed.
Then, on 40 minutes, City’s young midfielder Ronan O’Hara blasted just over the Celtic crossbar following an inch-perfect cross from Paul Carvill.
A minute before the break, however, the match was turned on its head when a mix-up in the Armagh defence allowed the ball to drop at the feet of Celtic’s Darren Stewart who tapped home from close range.
Half-time: Armagh City 2 Donegal Celtic 1.
Just after the break Denver Taggart almlost brought an equaliser for the visitors but somehow he managed to blast the ball over the Armagh crossbar from just three yards out.
The Belfast side were now pressing for the equaliser but were caught cold by a superb City break which resulted in a 25-yard dipping shot from Carvill being flicked over the crosbar by the alert McErlean.
From the resultant corner taken by Montgomery, however, Ultan Lennon powered in at the back-post to head City’s third past the stranded Celtic stopper.
To their credit DC piled forward at every opportunity and Noonan and Lennon at the heart of the Armagh defence had to be at their brilliant best to keep the visitors at bay.
But, with time running out, their was nothing they could do to stop Pearse Devine making a superb run into the box before sending a 15-yard pile-driver into the corner of the net past outstretched City ‘keeper Sean Morgan.
In the keenly contested match City’s impressive midfielder Cornor McAnallen was sent off near the end after receiving his second yellow. Celtic’s Ryan Dunlop also received a red after a crunching tackle and, in an unsavoury melee on the final whistle, another visiting player was given his marching orders as tempers flared.