Woodview Celtic breezed into the Tully Bookmakers MDL Challenge Cup final for the second year in a row thanks to a 3-0 win over Duleek in Townspark, Ardee on Sunday afternoon.
Three points behind league leaders Trim Celtic but with two games in hand, a Kilmessan Shield final date already secured and now a cup final meeting with Quay Celtic to look forward to, Gavin McKeever’s men are looking ominous at the business end of the season and few would be surprised if they went on to win a treble.
Played in blazing sunshine in excellent conditions on the well prepared Ardee Celtic ground Woodview started brightly and they went close to scoring on ten minutes when Deco Moran floated in a cross to Mickey O’Kane but he was denied by a fine save from the Duleek goalkeeper.
The Meath side threatened shortly afterwards when a long ball was played over the Woodview defence but just as Paddy Coates looked like he would run onto it he was denied by a brilliant tackle from Chris Caulfield.
McKeever’s side began to take firm hold of the game with the vastly experienced Dave Rogers organising matters at the back and on 20 minutes they took the lead following an excellent piece of football that went from back to front.
The move was started by Alan McCartney, going through Paul McArdle who released Owen Armstrong on the right wing. He slipped a beautiful pass to Stephen Grimes and after skipping across the edge of the Duleek penalty area and past a couple of defenders he smashed the ball inside the goalkeeper’s left hand upright.
Five minutes later a foul on McArdle, just outside the Duleek penalty area, saw Paul Warnock hammer the resulting free-kick past the defensive wall. The effort was saved by the goalkeeper and when the loose ball fell to Grimes on the penalty spot he fired the opportunity narrowly wide.
The first half ended with Duleek mounting a couple of attacks but Padraig Gorham in the Woodview goal was untroubled.
The second half opened with Armstrong linking up with O’Kane who again was denied by an excellent save but within minutes the Duleek goalkeeper was let helpless.
Billy Smith took possession after a neat build up some 25-yards from goal. Closely marked and closed down by two defenders, he appeared to be in an impossible position to threaten the Duleek goal but, in the blink of an eye, he conjured up a piece of magic before striking a screamer to the roof of the net to make it 2-0.
Duleek were under real pressure at this stage and minutes later O’Kane found an upright with a crisp drive.
The Meath side worked hard to reduce the arrears but there was no way though for as Woodview protected their advantage with some fine defending.
At the other end, the Dundalk side almost added a third goal on the hour mark when O’Kane was once again denied by the net-minder and direct from the corner kick Deco Moran rattled the crossbar.
McKeever made a number of substitutions soon after and all three were involved when with ten minutes left to play the scoring was made complete.
A terrific ball from Conor Mulvenna sent Ray McCann away on the right wing and his delivery fell perfectly for Anto Reilly 20-yards from goal and he hammered the ball to the top left hand corner of the net.
Woodview Celtic: Padraig Gorham, Alan McCartney, Dave Rogers, Chris Caulfield, Paul Warnock, Paul McArdle, Stephen Grimes (Conor Mulvenna), Owen Armstrong, Mickey O’Kane, Billy Smith (Anto Reilly), Deco Moran (Ray McCann). Sub not used: Shane English.