Second place Derry Rovers lost ground on PMB Construction league leaders Woodstock Celts when they went down 3-1 away to a well organised Castle Villa AFC side on Saturday last at Mullarney Park.
PMB Construction Masters Division 1
Castle Villa: 3
Derry Rovers: 1
Villa now lying third in the table, hot on the heels of Woodstock and Derry Rovers are very much in the title race in this competitive Over 35 first Division.
Villa started brightly and could have went ahead after 8 minutes when Malcolm Kirwan, who seems to be getting faster with age, got on the end of a through ball but his shot across goal went narrowly wide of Paul Connell right post. Villa’s back four of Phil Horan, Seamus Rice, Ger O Toole and Martin Hickey were coming to terms with Rovers’ attacks from Neil Tyrell and Vinny Mooney and Jamie Horan in the Villa goals dealt comfortably with a number of crosses. The remainder of the half was pretty even, with most of the game being played in the midfield third.
However with half-time looming, the route one game came to fruition for Villa. A kickout from Jamie Horan was flicked on by Malcolm Kirwan, and Gary Mulhall, who caused the Rovers defence huge problems all evening, was hauled down in the box by the visiting goalkeeper Paul Connell. Malcolm Kirwan stroked home the spot kick and the referee blew the whistle just as Rovers kicked off and it was 1-0 at half time.
The second half started with Villa the better side, and only a couple of offside calls prevented Gary Mulhall getting in behind the high line the Rovers back four of George Morrissey, Jerome McBride, Jack Colling and Ed Cummins.
The second goal, when it came after 19 minutes of the second half, was a fantastic team goal. Gary Mulhall won a challenge and delivered the ball to Malcolm Kirwan, who put it on a plate for Alan Lawler who buried the ball in the bottom left corner of Connell’s net with a great finish. Villa had a huge shout for a penalty after Gary Mulhall was bundled over in the box, but the decision went against the outstanding Mulhall.
Some quality goalkeeping from Jamie Horan kept the score at 2-0 when he made a brilliant save low to his right with ten minutes remaining from Derry midfielder Darren Hynes. Three minutes later, the game was sewn up when John Hegarty beat the replacement Rovers keeper to make it 3-0 with a cracking header from 12 yards when Phil Horan crossed after a well worked short corner routine with Nigel Byrne.
Derry Rovers never stopped trying throughout, and on a different day, could have been a lot closer to Villa. They did however, get a deserved consolation when they scored a brilliant goal from a free kick by Ed Cummins with a just as the clock ticked into additional time.
Best for Villa were Malcolm Kirwan, Ger O’Toole, Jamie Horan and man of the match Gary Mulhall. Jerome McBride in defence, Darren Hynes in midfield and Neil Tyrrell up front tried hardest for the visitors.
J Horan, P Horan, S Rice, G O’Toole, M Hickey, N Byrne, K Gannon, D O’Gorman, J Kennedy, M Kirwan, G Mulhall, C Fitzgerald, D Byrne, B Nolan, J Hegarty, A Lawler.
Derry Rovers FC:
P Connell, G Morrissey, J McBride, E Cummins, K Farrell, J Colling, D Hynes, C Persse, N Tyrell, V Mooney, T Glynn, P McBride.