NEFL | Heartbreak in Drogheda for Bellurgan United as Cosmos win the cup
Tully Bookmakers Cup Final | Bellurgan United 1–4 Navan Cosmos
Bellurgan United suffered heartbreak in Drogheda on Sunday afternoon as Navan Cosmos ran out 4–1 winners in the NEFL Tully Bookmakers Challenge Cup final.
The peninsula side looked to be in real trouble as two goals in the space of 10 first half minutes put Cosmos in the driving seat but a poacher’s finish by Niall Donnelly gave them some impetus going into the break.
However, manager Padraig Gollogley’s half-time team talk was made redundant after just 90 seconds of the restart when Colm Carney struck the killer third to secure the trophy for the Meath outfit after two years of cup final heartbreak.
Following Muirhevnamor’s Premier Division success and Quay Celtic’s Kilmessan Shield triumph, a win for Bellurgan would have completed a North East Football League clean sweep for clubs in the area.
Their preparations weren’t helped by the loss of suspended left-back John Smyth and player-coach Paddy Quinn who suffered a bad head injury in the 1–0 defeat to Quay Celtic six days earlier.
Owen Armstrong and Keith Finnegan were both named on the bench while Brian White returned to the starting XI, partnering Diarmuid Murphy in the engine room.
Both sides felt each other out in the early stages and Carney who was the first player to have a pop, his early drive clearing Robert Arthur’s crossbar.
Bellurgan settled into it and they created a well-worked opening in the 10th minute. Danny O’Connor picked up a White pass on the right but his low shot flashed just wide of Conor Gilsenan’s post.
Fellow winger Niall Donnelly was involved on the other flank five minutes later, hooking his effort off target after being located by a neat Diarmuid Murphy pass.
Arthur stood tall to deny Anto Burke in the 20th minute before Cosmos almost opened Bellurgan up with a beautiful passage of play five minutes later.
Experienced midfielder Alan Murphy picked out Conor Walsh in the right channel and his first time back heel fell kindly for Burke who snatched at the shot.
Gollogley’s side failed to heed the warning and Cosmos edged in front 60 seconds later. Right-wing back Paul Delany fed the ball across the face of goal and Burke was left with a tap-in.
The same two players were involved in the second goal after 36 minutes. Delaney’s near post cross was intended for Burke but the striker’s presence was enough to deceive Arthur and the ball nestled inside the far post.
The Bellurgan goalkeeper kept his side in the game by saving from Burke just four minutes later as Cosmos went in search of a killer third.
Bellurgan, though, hauled themselves back into the game three minutes before the break. Brian White’s header was kept out by a Cosmos player on the line but Niall Donnelly was on hand to stab home.
That looked to have set things up for a stirring second-half but less than 90 seconds had elapsed when Cosmos restored their two-goal cushion.
Carney took possession on the inside left channel and lashed home before Ray Finnegan could get across to snuff out the threat.
Gollogley introduced Armstrong with 58 minutes played as Bellurgan reverted to a three-man defence. That left them exposed to the counter attack and Delaney almost found himself in for a second in the 65th minute.
A brilliant move from back to front almost pulled Bellurgan back into it three minutes later. Armstrong, Donnelly and Sheelan were all involved with Danny O’Connor racing on to the latter’s through ball to steer an effort towards goal. However, it took a deflection off the covering Cillian Corcoran and just evaded the net.
Gilsenan showed safe hands to gather a late Sheelan effort and Diarmuid Murphy also went close as Bellurgan tried to find a route back into it.
Cosmos, though, had the last word with Anto Burke making it 4–1 in stoppage time as Cosmos avenged their 2015 cup final defeat to Bellurgan at Oriel Park.
BELLURGAN UNITED: Robert Arthur, Owen Traynor (Owen Armstrong 58), Sean McEvoy, Ray Finnegan, Ciaran Clarke (James Renaghan 70); Niall Donnelly, Stephen Finnegan, Diarmuid Murphy, Brian White (Keith Finnegan 76), Danny O’Connor; Ciaran Sheelan. Subs not used: Daniel McDonnell, Padraig Gollogley, Tadgh O’Connor, David McDonald.
NAVAN COSMOS: Conor Gilsenan; Robbie Dillon, Cillian Corcoran, Shaun Doyle; Paul Delaney, Alan Murphy, Conor Walsh (Craig Dempsey 73), Jack Murray, Ben Newe; Colm Carney (Conor McManus 85), Anto Burke. Subs not used: Jimmy Boland, Donal Callan, Evan Coffey, Oisin Smith, Mark Leavy.
REFEREE: Joe Dyas.