NEFL | Scanlon is the shootout hero as Rock pip Woodview to the Over-35 League title
NEFL Over-35 League Final | Rock Celtic 4–4 Woodview Celtic
Rock Celtic won 6–5 on penalties
Paul Scanlon was the hero for Rock Celtic as they claimed the NEFL Over-35 League title with a penalty shootout victory over Woodview Celtic at Sandy Lane on Friday night.
Both sides contributed to a brilliant game off football, sharing eight goals over the space of the 80 minutes with Rock Celtic striker David Ward getting a hat-trick, and, in truth, none of them deserved to lose the game.
A winner had to be decided, however, and after Rock scored with each of their first six kicks, Scanlon settled it when he dived to his left to push away Gerry McShane’s effort and win the cup for Donal Lynch’s side.
Despite the heavy rain, the large crowd in attendance were treated to a cracking first half of football.
The visitors opened the scoring in the ninth minute when left-back Paul Warnock, who scored a trademark free-kick to secure Woodview the Premier Division title against Trim back in 2012, swung a vicious dead ball in from the left that deceived Scanlon and crossed the line.
Rock almost hit back instantly when Ward combined with strike partner Derek Delany but Gary Mulligan did just enough to put the former Dundalk FC man under pressure and Thomas Mulvey gathered safely.
Ward is still banging in goals for Rock Celtic’s Division One team and he grabbed a stunning solo equaliser here in the 14th minute.
Picking up a Warren McGrory pass, he showed brilliant feet to cut in from the left, roll past a couple of Woodview defenders and round Mulvey to hammer home.
With the four central midfielders on show, Robert Cosgrove and Paddy Reilly of Rock, and Woodview’s Paul McArdle and Niall O’Hagan, showing plenty of steel, things began to heat up nicely with referee Paul McGeown reaching to his pocket to caution Ward and Mulligan.
That bit of spice only added to the excitement and the open nature of the game continued with Kevin Magee’s side restoring their lead in the 18th minute with a dubious goal.
With Rock holding a high line, Stephen Grimes slipped a great through ball in for Ray McCann to chase onto. The Woodview striker looked like he was in an offside position but with no flag appearing from the assistant, McCann took full advantage, rounding Scanlon to make it 2–1.
Ward restored parity again seven minutes later, breaking through the Woodview backline to pounce on Delany’s incisive pass and skip around Mulvey before rolling the ball home.
The relentless tempo showed no signs of letting up and Delany put the Seasiders in front for the first time in the game with a 35th minute free-kick that beat Mulvey with the aid of a deflection.
With the rain falling heavily, it looked like the hosts would go in at the break all square but they were pegged back in the dying minutes of the half when McCann’s deep free-kick from the left was headed home by the tireless Gary Mulligan at the far post.
Understandably, things weren’t as intense in the second-half but there were still moments of real quality and Delany almost brought the house down with an outrageous but of skill that saw him control a David McGeough free-kick before turning and hitting a volley, all in the one movement.
Both managers made changes and it was Rock who edged back in front after 59 minutes when Ward showed his predatory instincts again, seizing onto a ball over the top to hold off Derek McCabe and claim his hat-trick.
To their credit, Woodview finished the game strongly and substitute Ger Conlon saw an effort blocked with Grimes hitting the side netting with the follow-up.
The Dundalk side pushed hard for an equaliser and they got it with five minutes to go when Grimes spotted substitute Gerry McShane at the near post and he fizzed the ball home in style to force a penalty shootout.
The Woodview man was the unlucky one in the shootout, however, Scanlon guessing the right way to turn the 14th spot kick of the night round the post and win it for the Rock.
ROCK CELTIC: Paul Scanlon; Gavin Mulholland (Robbie Rafferty), Gavin Toner, David McGeough, Gareth Papworth; Damien English, Paddy Reilly, Robert Cosgrove, Warren McGrory (Jamie Lally); David Ward, Derek Delany.
WOODVIEW CELTIC: Thomas Mulvey; Gary Mulligan, Shane English, Derek McCabe, Paul Warnock; Dermot Grier, Paul McArdle, Niall O’Hagan (Gerry McShane), Damien Connor (Ger Conlon); Stephen Grimes, Ray McCann.
REFEREE: Paul McGeown.
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