AUL Division 1 Sunday
Lusk United AFC – 4 (Purdue x2, McKittrick, Bentley)
Mourne Celtic FC – 2 (Wynne, Hess)
Lusk United and Mourne Celtic may both be near the bottom of the AUL Division 1 Sunday table, but the two sides served up an entertaining North Fingal derby under floodlights on the Rathmore Road.
In a game where both sides had their moments, the more clinical home side ran out deserved winners on a chilly night in Lusk.
Both teams went close in the opening exchanges, with David Waldron having to tip over a long range free-kick from Mourne midfielder Emmet O’Neill which took a wicked bounce up off the turf. Moments later, Barry Turner had to be alert to scoop away a goal-bound cross from Lusk’s Barry Cooney.
The first intentional chance fell to Solley O’Connor when he was played through by Kieran McKittrick, but the Candystripes striker’s low shot was stopped by Turner. The home side then had a slice of good fortune when a Waldron clearance was charged down by the lightning-fast Billy Hess but the ball bounced wide, much to the relief of the Lusk ‘keeper.
After ten minutes the Skerries outfit put together the first real quality move of the match. A clever Paddy Joyce pass released Seamus Farrell down the right flank and the winger’s low cross was dummied by Kevyn Miley and fell to Aaron Wynne inside the box. The Mourne captain’s effort however was smothered by Waldron who was quick off his line.
Lusk were forced into a reshuffle midway through the first half with O’Connor being forced off by an ongoing hamstring problem. The impish striker was replaced by the Gary McGlew who slotted into midfield, pushing the powerful McKittrick up front.
The deadlock in the evenly-matched tie was finally broken on the half-hour mark when stylish Lusk midfielder Stephen Hanratty curled an exquisite free-kick over the Mourne wall. Turner got a fingertip on the effort which then hit the inside of the post and rolled, agonisingly, across the line and onto the other upright before being slammed home from all of one inch by Keith Purdue to give Lusk the lead.
The opening goal saw the action and intensity crank up and Celtic drew level just minutes later. A half cleared ball from the Lusk defence fell to Wynne who rifled a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
The chances were now coming thick and fast, and almost straight from the restart McKittrick blazed a shot over from inside the Mourne box after being slid in by Purdue. Soon after, a smart flick from Miley released Hess who raced into the box but was charged down by Waldron in the Lusk goal.
Hess however was not to be denied and the speedy striker gave the Skerries side the lead just before half time when he intercepted a Lusk backpass and rounded Waldron before slotting home.
Mourne began the second period quickly and had a chance of a third when Farrell found Miley inside the box but the strikers powerful shot was stopped by the strong hands of Waldron.
After fifty minutes the home side would take control of the tie with the first of three unanswered goals. A looping Dean Farrell cross was headed back into the danger zone by Purdue allowing McKittrick to stab home from six yards to equalise.
McKittrick was beginning to exert a big influence on the game and drove a low free-kick wide before creating his team’s third goal on the hour mark. A delicious lofted through ball from the big striker was raced onto by Purdue and the pacey winger knocked past the onrushing Turner to give Lusk the lead.
A shell-shocked Mourne attempted to force their way back into the game and substitute striker Martin O’Neill had a dangerous cross palmed away by Waldron, who also managed to get the ball clear in the ensuing goalmouth scramble with Farrell.
However, with the visitors pushing forward in search of an equaliser, Lusk gave themselves breathing space with a sublime counter-attacking goal. Left back Daniel Bentley retrieved a Mourne corner, raced out of defence, exchanged passes with McKittrick, and placed the ball past Turner, all within a matter of seconds to make it 4-2 on the night.
With fifteen minutes still to play, Mourne continued to press, but the resolute Lusk defence restricted them to long-range efforts from O’Neill and Wynne.
Lusk almost had a fifth to top off their night at the death when late substitute David Berry retrieved a ball in the box and passed across to Purdue to prod home, but the winger was denied his hat-trick by the offside flag.
With relegation out of the equation for both teams following the withdrawal of other sides in the division, the two young outfits can look forward to renewing their friendly rivalry next season.
Lusk United: David Waldron, Paraic White, Daniel Bentley, Conor Garvey, Jamie Caul, Stephen Hanratty, Kieran McKitterick, Dean Farrell (David Berry), Keith Purdue, Solley O’Connor (Gary McGlew), Barry Cooney (Colin Ridgeway).
Mourne Celtic: Barry Turner, Stephen Coleman, Aaron Farrell, Cian Archibald, Robbie Broederick, Paddy Joyce, Emmet O’Neill, Aaron Wynne, Seamus Farrell, Billy Hess, Kevyn Miley (Martin O’Neill).