A Kevin Murray hat trick was the highlight of yet another comprehensive Willow Park win as Declan Holohan’s men further stretched their lead at the top of the Leinster Senior League division 1B.
St James Gate were the visitors to DPD Park last Saturday evening. The struggling Dublin outfit had no answer to the home team’s fire power as they conceded seven goals during a one sided high scoring encounter.
The game was just eight minutes old when Willow took the lead. A free kick afforded Conor McCormack the opportunity to try his luck and the promising full back duly obliged. The left footed strike hit off the defensive wall to the net putting the hosts ahead. The lead was short-lived however as the Gate soon equalised. A long ball forward allowed Kevin Bates the chance which he finished off by shooting past the keeper’s left.
Willow responded to this shock in positive fashion and had a three goal advantage by the half time break. The Dublin team were the architects of their own downfall for the second home score as goalkeeper Sean Quinn baffled all and sundry by sending a free kick straight to Aaron O’Neill. The Willow striker could not believe his luck as he lurked on the edge of the box and then further punished the keeper with a cool finish. Goal number three for Willow arrived after 18 minutes when O’Neill beat the offside trap to set up Murray for an easy score. Murray grabbed his second and the home team’s fourth goal just before the break. Garry McHugh was the provider this time from midfield as Murray netted with a low strike. The visitors did have the last chance of the half but, summing up an off day for the Gate, Bates chipped over the bar from a good position.
The game was over as a serious contest within five minutes of the restart as Holohan’s men scored two quick-fire goals against the bottom team. Firstly, Ryan Gaffey got on the scoresheet as he slotted home an O’Neill right wing cross. Gaffey then turned provider to set up Claudio Silva who duly made it 6-1 after 50 minutes. The visitors were looking at a heavy beating at this early stage but rallied somewhat to keep Willow at the seven goal mark. Substitute Ger Cleary restored some pride for St James Gate with a good goal after 64 minutes but the final outcome was never in any doubt. The scoring was concluded two minutes later when Murray completed his hat trick. The flying winger took off to race clear of the away defence and gave the keeper no chance with a fine finish. Willow were now happy with their night’s work and the closing stages afforded a number of the home subs to get a run out under little pressure.
With seven straight wins now, Willow Park continue their chase for the title with another visit to Dublin at the weekend to take on Pegasus.