Andrew Murnin’s solo effort shortly into the second half saw Lurgan Celtic shock Loughgall in the Belfast Telegraph Bob Radcliffe Cup final on Boxing Day. And it was a cup win well deserved as Ciaran O’Kane’s men were extremely impressive, making light of fact they’re in a lower division.
Celtic started superbly and ex-Loughgall striker Raymond Fitzpatrick tested goalkeeper Marc Robinson on two occasions in the opening ten minutes; his first-time shot from 20 yards was well gathered on 8 minutes and then Robinson produced a fine save to deny the tall forward’s well-struck effort on 10 minutes.
Robinson had to be on top form one minute later to save Murnin’s point-blank header from Niall Lavery’s corner delivery.
Loughgall’s first real chance came on the half hour mark when Dale Malone turned neatly inside the penalty area before seeing his shot deflected over.
Murnin netted the decisive goal six minutes after the break when he collected a pass on the right hand side of the box and found space to fire an angled drive inside the far post.
The goal sparked the Villagers into life however they were well-marshalled by the impressive Celtic backline, Loughgall were restricted to long-range attempts – one of which saw Malone strike the ball narrowly past the post on 73 minutes.
The Villagers had a great chance to level in the last minute when Greg Hall pounced upon left-back Johnathan McAreavey’s mistake, unfortunately Hall dragged his low effort just wide of the mark.
And in injury time a great move saw substitute Paul Keenan head down the ball into Steven Ferguson’s path, however the Loughgall captain could only watch as his ferocious drive was deflected narrowly past the post with ‘keeper Ciaran Fox beaten.
Loughgall: Robinson, Hall, Brady, Stewart, King, Doyle (Guy 84m), Ferguson, Hawthorne, Teggart (Pedlow 45m), Malone, Verner (Keenan 45m). Unused subs: Emerson, Hull.
Lurgan Celtic: Fox, O’Hagan, McAreavey, McAnallan, McEvoy, Lavery, Murnin, O’Hara (Mackin 83m), Fitzpatrick, Haire (McCann 80m), Ryan. Unused subs: Magennis, McKerr, Downey.
Referee: D Basketfield
Assistants: M Patterson, P Robinson