Rock Celtic's David Ward. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
NEFL Premier Division
Rock Celtic 2-1 Newfoundwell
Rock Celtic claimed their first Premier Division win of the season after seeing off champions Newfoundwell in a hotly-contested affair at Sandy Lane on Friday night.
The Rock trailed at half-time, but a fine second half performance, which included goals for Niall Donnelly and David Ward, with a late penalty conversion, ensured Paudie Gollogley’s side avenged last season’s Tully Cup defeat to the same opposition.
Newfoundwell hit the front early when making the most of set-piece from the flank as they found a way past John Rogers.
The remainder of the opening period was fairly end-to-end. Ward and Brendan Rogers tested the visiting ‘keeper; however, the Rock were indebted to defender Paddy Reilly for hooking a ball off the line on the stroke of the interval as the Drogheda side threatened to double their lead.
Rock began the second half well and levelled just past the hour mark when neat build-up involving Seán Hand and Ward saw Donnelly, who was being man-handled, receive the ball to feet before swivelling and firing into the far corner of the net.
Derek Delany was sprung from the bench, but disaster was to strike in the aftermath of Ward going close to putting Rock in front. Delany appeared to have been stamped on by an opponent and lashed out, resulting in him receiving his marching orders with 15 minutes to play.
However, undeterred, Rock maintained their advances and found a winner in controversial circumstances. A stray ball across the Newfoundwell backline allowed Aidan Curtin to nip in, round the advancing 'keeper and finish to the net despite being clobbered by the custodian, who was sent-off after the match official awarded a spot-kick instead of the goal.
Nonetheless, in the dying embers, Ward showed composure to dramatically dispatch the ensuing penalty.
Rock Celtic: John Rogers; Liam McDonnell, Shane O’Callaghan, Paddy Reilly, Ódhrán Duffy; Brendan Rogers, Éanna McArdle, Seán Hand, Aidan Curtin; David Ward, Niall Donnelly
Subs: Derek Delany, Gary Lennon, Liam Keenan, Des McKeown, Dan Kerr, David Hayes