Culleton hits winning goal
Ross Celtic survive stiff test
Sean Culleton was the stand-out player as he steered New Ross Celtic to a hard-earned victory over a battling Gorey Celtic outfit in this exciting Wexford Cup second round game in New Ross on Sunday.
New Ross Celtic 2 Gorey Celtic 1
As Gorey Celtic battled to create a shock, the all-action midfield play of Culleton not only hauled the home side back into this game, but he also put his name on the second goal which eventually separated the sides at the finish.
Culleton proved the main difference between the sides, with Gorey Celtic belying their lower division status to really take this game to the more highly-ranked Premier Division outfit.
Gorey Celtic were boosted by an early goal but their finishing let them down for the remainder of the game.
Although they created sufficient chances with some quality approach football, there was a hint of desperation in their play in front of goal where a little more composure could have brought them at least a second goal.
However, this came back to haunt them, as the home side were unable to increase their narrow lead despite some gilt-edged chances being created at the opposite end.
When one expected New Ross Celtic to take the early initiative, it was the visitors who set the scene with excellent approach football led by midfielders Thomas Cloke and Terry Carey. They pressed forward at every opportunity, taking a deserved twelfth-minute lead when Ger Carey got on the end of a quality Thomas Cloke ball into the area to beat 'keeper Kevin Grangel, leaving his side with a shock 1-0 lead.
That goal lifted the confidence of the Gorey side, with both Ger Carey and Wes Fitzpatrick seeing shots go just outside the post, but then it was the turn of the home team to make an impact on the game.
Seán Culleton along with Alan Rhodes now began to win more midfield possession, creating a lot more attacking movement, so it was no surprise when they got back level just short of the half-hour mark.
Having played a quick ball forward, Michael Grangel held it up before playing it into the area where Colin St. Ledger found the net from close in with a neat finish to make it 1-1.
Gorey Celtic had for the first time now to defend in numbers as Ross Celtic began to push forward, with their goal having a couple of narrow escapes.
Five minutes before the break the home side took the lead. Alan Rhodes played a free-kick from midfield across the area, where Seán Culleton was allowed space and time to bring the ball down before firing across goal, with his effort taking a wicked deflection before finishing in the opposite corner of the net.
That made it 2-1 which was how it remained to the interval, but the game was still wide open.
The home side showed a vast improvement in the second-half and tied the game down as Culleton began to control midfield. Nevertheless, they were unable to increase their lead, but it must be said that Grangel, who blazed over the top, Johnny St. Ledger in a one-on-one with 'keeper Ciarán Gartland, and Eoin Rhodes who shot wide from a few metres out, should have done better with gilt-edged scoring opportunities.
Despite all of this. Gorey Celtic did manage some promising attacks, with their best chance of an equaliser falling to Tommy Carey, but his rising shot just went over the top.
New Ross Celtic: Kevin Grangel, Gary O'Connor, Stephen O'Leary, David Purcell, Colin St. Ledger, Seán Culleton, Ben Duffy, Alan Rhodes, Michael Grangel, Eoin Rhodes, Johnny St. Ledger. Subs. - Ethan Butler, Diarmuid Roche.
Gorey Celtic: Ciarán Gartland, Adam Roche, Ross Reardon, Darren Brennan, Danny Reilly, Richie Donohoe, Thomas Cloke, Tommy Carey, Ger Carey, Wes Fitzpatrick, Craig Fortune. Subs. - John Kavanagh, Eoghan Hough, Shane Thorpe.
Referee: Peter Rowlands.