Mountmellick Utd started the New Year in the best possible fashion on Sunday afternoon when they survived a second-half CK Utd onslaught to secure all three points in this entertaining mid-table clash at Conor Davis Park.
Mountmellick Utd 3
CK Utd 2
After a lengthy Christmas break, you would have expected that both sides would have started sluggishly but the hosts certainly showed no signs of over-indulgence over the festivities as they bagged two goals inside the opening ten minutes to stun the makeshift Tullamore side who arrived in Mountmellick with the bare eleven players.
David Nevin nabbed the first when he reacted brialliantly to Paul Lee's quickly taken corner and glanced a neat header past CK keeper Paul Daly with the game less than five minutes old. Lee then had a hand in Mountmellick's second less than three minutes later. His vicious shot was beaten away by Daly but Robbie Hibbitts was on hand to pounce on the rebound and net his fifth league goal of the season.
CK rarely offered a threat to Eoghan Keogh's goal for the majority of the opening period with long-range efforts from Mark Dunne and Trevor Wright their only real worthwhile efforts until with the half-time whistle less than five minutes away Wright struck from considerably closer to cut the Mountmellick lead in half.
Dunne's blistering strike was charged down by Eddie Melia for a CK corner and when the Mountmellick rearguard failed to deal with Dunne's inswinger, Wright directed Paul Kinnarney's low cross into the back of the net from two yards out.
However that wasn't the end of the first-half scoring as Mountmellick hit back right on the stroke of the forty-five. David Nevin's low shot from the edge of the 18-yard box looked to have been dealt with by Paul Daly but he somehow spilt the effort and Paul Lee was on hand to capitalise on the error with virtually the last kick of the half.
CK had provided little evidence of their credentials in the first half but after the break they quickly wrestled control of the game from the home side and Trevor Wright's low strike immediately after the restart was a sign of things to come.
Eoghan Keogh twice kept the CK attack at bay with stunning saves and even when Keogh looked beaten Mark Goodwin was on hand to keep a looping Ronan Monaghan cross from nestling in the top corner. The loss of Paul Lee did little to help Mountmellick's ability to retain possession up front, and when his replacement David Kelly also limped out injured, Mountmellick sat back in numbers to soak up the pressure.
With just over ten minutes remaining however, that pressure finally told when Mark Dunne's blocked shot landed at the grateful feet of Stuart Carroll who fired a left-footed shot past Keogh to pull it back to 3-2.
CK continued to press and again Keogh had to be at full stretch to claw away Carroll's next effort but with time running out the exhausted CK men looked spent. Mountmellick rarely threatened to extend their lead late on but they soaked up everything their opponents had to throw at them and they held on to earn their fourth league win of the campaign.
MOUNTMELLICK UTD: Eoghan Keogh, Sean Gorman (Mark Parkinson '86), Jason Fitzgibbon (Shane Shortall '64), Eddie Melia, Mark Goodwin, Shane O'Connell, Mark Grennan, Robbie Hibbitts, Jody Davis, Paul Lee (David Kelly '55 (Laurence Kenny '72)), David Nevin.
CK UTD: Paul Daly, Stuart Carroll, Paul Kinnarney, Trevor Wright, Brendan Bracken, Mark Dunne, Steven Weir, Pat Tyrrell, Darren Flanagan, Niall Kearns, Ronan Monaghan