Merri’ Christmas for Booth

by Karl Graham

BOOTH Road Celtic reached the last 32 of the FAI junior cup for the first time in their history after a 1-0 win over Pearse Celtic at Ballyowen Park.
The result keeps their incredible 100% record going, which now stretches to 17 games and sees them top of the LSL major 1B despite having four games in hand over both second and third position.
Shane Merrigan was the man of the moment on Saturday as he grabbed the goal his team deserved with 70 minutes on the clock.
The Bhoys started the game well and dominated possession but the visitors were not without threat and had the first shot at goal.
The visitors were forced into a change in formation when centre back Mick Devine, who was clearly carrying an injury into the game, was forced off the pitch. They switched to a more orthodox three at the back, a move that saw them become more of a threat going forward.
Gary Cleary produced a good save to keep a free kick out of the net before Pearse Celtic went close to opening the scoring on two other occasions.
Celtic took these chances as a warning sign and stepped up a couple of gear to produce a few chances of their own.
Merrigan, in particular, started to influence the game for his side and was involved in a number of attacks before half time, including a shot off the post just before the break.
The second half saw both teams push for an opener, with the first chance falling the way of Pearse Celtic resulting in Cleary making a save down low.
Chances were becoming a premium as the ball swung from end to end, leading to a positional switch by Celtic manager Ian Maher.
Merrigan moved from his normal position up front to the right-hand side as the home side looked to use his searing pace more effectively.
It soon proved an inspired tactical move from Maher as Merrigan picked up the ball and raced down the wing. He swung in an excellent cross to the feet of Aaron Byrne who, instead of tapping home himself, gifted the ball back to ‘Merro’ to finish.
Pearse Celtic turned to long ball tactics as they searched in vain for an equaliser, however, the best they could muster was a free kick that deflected just wide of the post as Celtic closed out the game.
Celtic’s win sets up a mouth watering tie with Blanch side St Mochta’s in the next round. It will be a tougher tie for the Clondalkin side but with 27 goals already scored in seven league games, their Dublin neighbours won’t be taking anything for granted.

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