Castlebar Celtic 2
Sligo Rovers 3
Castlebar Celtic learned the hard way that the game is never over until the final whistle is blown in front of a sparse crowd in Celtic Park on Sunday evening. Celtic manager Declan Kilkelly will have had harsh words with his side back in the dressing room after seeing them loose a two goal lead with ten minutes to go and end up loosing 3-2.
Even when Sligo pulled back two quick goals the home side didn't look like they would loose the game, but a minute into injury time Shane Brannigan arrowed the ball to the back of Robert Hennelly's net with a cool finish from the left hand side of the penalty area to steal an unlikely win for Sligo.
Celtic dominated the game from early on but they failed to create much in the way of goal scoring chances, with Peter Dravins and Sean McHale struggling to create openings up front. But Celtic kept knocking on the door and after 21 minutes James McGauran found the back of the net. The ball was swept in from the right hand side of the field and Sligo failed to clear the ball, which fell to McGauran at the edge of the area and he drove it sweetly to the back of the net. Stevie Gavin could have doubled Celtic's lead two minutes later when he latched on to a long ball and beat Sligo keeper Anthony Havlin to the ball. He dinked it over the custodians head but also cleared the bar by only a matter of inches. The home side had a number of other chances to double their lead, with Stevie Ryan and Sean McHale both squandering opportunities.
It didn't take them long after the half time break to make the break through though, Peter Dravins flicked the ball on to Stevie Gavin who played in Sean McHale down the right wing, McHale drove in a cross which was half cleared by Sligo, but the ball only went as far as Gavin who had continued his run towards the box and caught the ball on the volley driving home a great finish. Game over or so it seemed, as Sligo struggled to threaten Robert Hennelly's goal with Stephen Feeney coming the nearest for them when he headed the ball over the bar from a Niall Howley corner. Sean McHale should have put the result beyond doubt after he was played in one on one with Havlin in the Sligo goal, he opted to chip it over the keeper rather than drive it low and the ball and he saw his effort come back off the bar. With ten minutes left on the clock James McCartney ambled down the left hand side of the Celtic defence unchallenged and angled the ball to the right hand corner of the net. The same man pulled the game level on 85 minutes. Sean McHale fouled McCartney just outside the penalty area and picked up a yellow card for his challenge. The Sligo man dusted himself off and whipped in the resulting free kick which missed everyones head in the penalty area and nestled in the corner of the net. Celtic were now looking to hold out for a draw but a minute into injury time Shane Brannigan pounced to steal the win.
Castlebar Celtic: R Hennelly; P Walsh, S Ryan, D Flynn, A Neary; J McGauran S Gavin, E Torphy, S Hynes; P Dravins, S McHale. Subs: A Walsh for McGauran, P Fitzgerald for Dravins.
Sligo Rovers: A Havlin; C Davey, J McCartney, C Griffin, P Devins; C Jinks, C Brick, S Feeney, N Howley; S Brannigan, C Cleary. Subs: M McGoldrick for Devins, P Sweeney for Howley, G Butler for Brick.