NEFL | Finan’s penalty secures Quay Celtic their first senior NEFL trophy

Kilmessan Shield Final 2017 | Bellurgan United 0–1 Quay Celtic

Quay Celtic landed their first ever North East Football League senior trophy on Saturday night as Colin Finan’s penalty was enough to beat Bellurgan United in the Kilmessan Shield final at Oriel Park.

Simon Kelly’s team went into the game looking to make up for a disappointing league season and they shaded a disappointing final that flattered to deceive.

Bellurgan, who face Navan Cosmos in the Tully Bookmakers Challenge Cup final this Sunday, looked bright in the opening 20 minutes but never really recovered from losing Paddy Quinn and Owen Armstrong to head injuries as the game approached the half hour mark.

Without two of their most experienced players, Padraig Gollogley’s side looked short of creativity and Kelly’s players grew in stature as the game wore on with their three-man defence and goalkeeper John Rogers looking assured throughout.

Left: Quay Celtic manager Simon Kelly watches on. Right: Bellurgan United’s Owen Armstrong (11) and Paddy Quinn (9) receive treatment after a clash of heads. PICTURE: CIARAN CULLIGAN

A forgettable first half ended scoreless with both sides showing very little signs of making a breakthrough in the final third.

Bellurgan had a brief sighting of goal, six minutes in, when Danny O’Connor’s diagonal ball found Quinn in an onside position but the former Preston player’s heavy first touch allowed Rogers to spring from his line and collect.

Quay Celtic settled into it as the half wore on and Diarmuid Murphy had to make a good sliding interception to stop Robbie Gavigan from picking out Martin Smith with a clever through ball midway through the half.

The peninsula outfit were dealt a double blow when Quinn and Armstrong made their exit in the 29th minute after a clash heads. Niall Donnelly and Cormac Renaghan coming on in their place.

Left: Quay Celtic’s Martin Smith beats Bellurgan United’s Diarmuid Murphy. Right: The Quay Celtic team. PICTURES: CIARAN CULLIGAN

Scoring opportunities continued to be few and far between and Murphy fired over the top after O’Connor’s cross from the right went all the way to the back post.

Quay’s first attempt at goal came two minutes before the break when skipper Martin Smith sent a free-kick towards goal that Robbie Arthur gathered comfortably.

Things livened up after the break and Quay Celtic pulled ahead in the 58th minute when referee Paul McGeown pointed to the spot after Sean Hand was sent tumbling by the trailing leg of John Smyth. Finan stepped up to send Arthur the wrong way and put the Point Road side in front.

Bellurgan upped the tempo in search of an equaliser and Rogers made a fine stop, getting a strong hand to keep a Niall Donnelly header out after Smyth delivered a vicious cross in from the left.

Rogers showed safe hands again five minutes later from another Donnelly header and with Stefan McKevitt and man of the match, Dennis Cholach, providing an impenetrable shield in front of their goalkeeper, Quay never looked like conceding.

Left: Quay Celtic’s Dennis Cholach receives his man of the match award. Right: Quay Celtic captain Martin Smith celebrates with his family. PICTURES: CIARAN CULLIGAN

Indeed, with space beginning to appear in the Bellurgan defence, Kelly’s men went in search of a second goal and Smyth came to his side’s rescue by hacking Vinny Smith’s goalbound effort off the line with Arthur beaten.

Bellurgan pushed for a late goal in stoppage time with Ray Finnegan pulling a shot wide of the mark but Quay defended brilliantly to see it out and take some silverware back to Clancy Park.

BELLURGAN UNITED: Robbie Arthur; Owen Traynor, Ray Finnegan, Sean McEvoy, John Smyth; Ciaran Sheelan, Stephen Finnegan, Diarmuid Murphy, Danny O’Connor, Owen Armstrong (Cormac Renaghan 29); Paddy Quinn (Niall Donnelly 29). Subs not used: Daniel McDonnell, Ciaran Clarke, Shane McCoy.

QUAY CELTIC: John Rogers, Sean Hand, Stefan McKevitt, Robbie Gavigan, Dennis Cholach, David Redmond (Johnny Winters 90); Sean Matthews (Vinny Smith 56), Colin Finan, Eanna McArdle, Drew Duffy (Eimhin Caldwell 76); Martin Smith (Micheal McDonnell 89). Subs not used: Dean Shiel, Adam McKenna.

REFEREE: Paul McGeown.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.