Quay Celtic's Dean Sheil and Stephen Carter of Boyne Harps. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
NEFL Premier Division
Quay Celtic 0 Boyne Harps 3
Boyne Harps produced perhaps their most competent performance of the season to comfortably see off Quay Celtic at Clancy Park on Friday night.
Stephen Carter fired home a fabulous first-half brace either side of Luke McDonnell’s powerful header to give the victors a three-goal interval lead. However, defensively, Quay were far from impressive with each of the concessions of their own making. Their continual attempts to play out from the back suited neither their personnel nor their attempts to breach an extremely well-organised visiting outfit.
Though nothing can be taken away from Boyne’s play. Martin Kelly and Nathan Llewellyn were outstanding on the right-hand side, while Darren McCann orchestrated affairs in midfield and if this type of ruthless, disciplined display becomes a regular fixture then the Boynesiders will be firm contenders for the league title.
But despite Boyne’s placing at the summit of the Premier Division table, Quay’s form has been strong recently. They entered the match in third place having already accounted for the visitors earlier in the campaign. However, their inadequacies on the night were laid bare almost from the off as a failure to engage the Boyne attack saw Kelly fire a dipping shot at Fergal Sheekey – who featured in place of John Rogers. The ‘keeper spilled the effort before recovering to brilliantly save Manny Smith’s follow-up attempt.
The early stages were fairly even and Quay almost took the lead when a blistering run from Vinny Smith saw his wicked drive tipped wonderfully on to the post by Ryan Brown. It was Quay’s best effort of the game.
Boyne had the strong wind at their backs as they attacked the dressing room end of Clancy Park and this effect played a more prominent role as they gained a foothold in the match, preventing Quay from reducing Harps’ territorial dominance.
The opening goal arrived on 23 minutes when a cheap giveaway from Quay saw Tom Reilly turn quickly on the edge of the area, playing in Carter on the left who curled his shot across Sheekey and into the far corner.
Éanna McArdle then missed a glorious chance to level when nodding brother Conail’s corner over from six-yards and that was to prove costly as yet more slack, over-complicated play along the Quay defence led to Boyne extending their advantage. A stray pass across the pitch from Dean Sheil saw Smith’s shot deflected wide with the resultant corner finding the head of McDonnell who finished from close range.
And things were to get even worse for Martin Smith’s side as Carter fired in the goal of the night from right of the 18-yard box, beating Sheekey at his near post after Pauric Browne had been dispossessed when venturing into midfield.
The second-half was a fairly tame affair as Quay came somewhat back into the game. Aaron Comerford blazed over when he had time on his hands, while a rasping free-kick from Vinny Smith went inches by the post following a deflection.
Sheekey was forced into action at the other end by McCann before Alan Wilton was denied by the big ‘stopper.
Boyne finished with 10-men after Micky Matthews was dismissed for an off-the-ball incident, however, the Drogheda side were home and hosed by that juncture.
Quay Celtic: Fergal Sheekey; Seán Hand, Pauric Browne, Stefan McKevitt, Dean Sheil, Éanna McArdle; Conail McArdle, Danny Coyle, Stephen Kilcoyne; Aaron Comerford, Vinny Smith
Subs: Drew Duffy for Coyle, Seán Matthews for Hand, Johnny Lynch for Conail McArdle
Boyne Harps: Ryan Brown; Kevin Walsh, Austin McCann, Luke McDonnell, James Trainor; Nathan Llewellyn, Darren McCann, Tom Reilly; Martin Kelly, Manny Smith, Stephen Carter
Subs: Alan Wilton for Carter, Barry Reynolds for Llewellyn, Micky Matthews for Smith