A goal from Tullamore striker Martin Halloran proved to be the turning point as Town continued their charge at the foot of the Division 1 table with an impressive win over Noreside Celtic on Sunday morning. The Castletown men had matched the visitors for much of the opening period but Halloran’s bizarre goal on the stroke of half-time undid all of Celtic’s hard work and Tullamore hit three more in the second half to end up comfortable winners.
After a top of the table win over Abbeyleix last weekend, Tullamore would have been brimming with confidence coming into this one but Noreside frustrated the visitors with an organised and no-nonsense start and indeed they could have taken the lead on a couple of occasions after creating some decent half-chances.
Tullamore’s usual passing game was undone by the hard-working Noreside defence and on the rare occasion that they were found wanting, Celtic keeper Bernard Bredin proved equally up to the task. He pulled off the first of a string of fine saves on the half hour mark when Stephen Francis ran onto Brian Francis’ pass and fired a fine shot that looked destined to nestle in the bottom corner until Bredin got down to make the stop with his right boot.
Unfortunately for Celtic, there was nothing he could do about Tullamore’s opener with three minutes of the opening half remaining. Alan Martin’s in-swinging corner appeared to have been cleared by the Noreside defence but it ricocheted off one Tullamore man and landed at the feet of Martin Halloran who smashed an instinctive shot across goal that cannoned off the post and into the back of the Celtic net.
It was a killer blow for Noreside. Had they went in nil all at the break who knows what could have happened, but Halloran’s goal gave the Offaly men the confidence they needed and in the second half they ripped through Noreside time and again and only a collection of superb saves kept the scoreline somewhat respectable.
The loss of centre-half Paul Harding through injury didn’t help Noreside, but Tullamore had finally found their groove and once they hit the second on the hour mark the result was never in doubt. After Bernard Bredin had somehow denied Brian Francis and Alan Martin with two fine stops but the pressure was relentless and when Francis’ run was stopped in the penalty box by a trip from Michael Boyhan, Francis stepped up to dispatch the spot-kick beyond Bredin into the bottom right.
The third came ten minutes later when Brian Francis doubled his tally by latching onto a Stephen Duffy ball over the top and placed a perfect finish into the opposite corner this time, and even when Noreside pulled one back from a rare venture forward through Damian Lanham’s strike, there was never a chance of a comeback.
Town made it 4-1 with an exceptionally crafted goal with seven minutes left to round off the win. A quick one-two down the right wing between Mattie Carragher and Brian Francs saw Carragher advance on goal and he placed an inch-perfect shot across the face of the Noreside goal into the bottom corner. It was no more than Tullamore deserved against a Celtic side who battled hard as ever but ultimately came up short against the impressive visiting side.
NORESIDE CELTIC: Bernard Bredin, Derek Dunne, Des Sullivan, Paul Harding (David Forde 45), Michael Boyhan, Michael Butler, Wayne Sydes, Damian Lanham, John Gaughan, Adrian Dollard, Damian Lalor.
TULLAMORE TOWN: John O’Connor, Anthony Heffernan, Niall Lynch, Joe Duffy, Willie Duffy, Alan Martin (Brendan McCarthy 67), Stephen Duffy (Gary Buckley 85), Stephen Francis, Mattie Carragher, Martin Holleran (Barry Walsh 67), Brian Francis.
Referee: Adrian Martin