Swords cut gap to raise hopes of avoiding drop

SWORDS Celtic manager Brendan Kennedy praised the resolve of his young side as they battled back from an early concession to beat north County Dublin rivals Portmarnock 2-1 at Paddy’s Hill.

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Swords Celtic ended a six-game wait for a league victory. Picture: Martin Doherty

Swords Celtic manager Brendan Kennedy praised the resolve of his young side as they battled back from an early concession to beat north County Dublin rivals Portmarnock 2-1 at Paddy’s Hill.

The LSL Senior Sunday derby looked to be going only one way when Barry Caulfield gave the more experienced home side the lead after just two minutes.

But a second-half brace from Johnny Lyons sealed a badly-needed three points for newly-promoted Swords, who have battled relegation all year but now sit just a point from safety.

Porto went into the game five points ahead of Swords and the benefit of an extra year at the top level, and they took control immediately on home turf.

Ray Whelehan turned over possession in midfield and released Sam O’Connor, who cut inside and was clipped on the edge of the box.

Caulfield curled the resulting free into the top corner.

That’s how it remained until 20 minutes remaining, when Evan Kelly drove to the byline and clipped in a cross that struck the arm of a Porto defender, and Lyons tucked the penalty away.

Lyons completed the turnaround with five minutes remaining as substitute Stephen Blake swung in a free kick from 35 yards and the striker connected with a header that looped over the keeper.

“A draw might have been a fair result,” Kennedy tells the Dublin Gazette.

“Portmarnock were the better side in the first half.

“We got to grips with it better in the second half and had more chances. In fairness, both teams tried to go up and down the pitch at each other.

“It was a fairly even game and, on the day, in very tough, windy, rainy conditions, we managed to get that extra chance and stick it away with five minutes to go.”

Swords have brought in Calvin Dooney, who has returned to the club after a stint in Dubai, and former St Mochta’s striker Anthony Burke from Trim Celtic.

They’ll provide some experience to Kennedy’s squad, which he doesn’t expect to add any more to over the January window.

Celtic have suffered a little bit from a lack of experience at this level compared to fellow promoted sides Ballymun United and Liffey Wanderers, who boast the likes of David Lacey and Aidan Roche.

“We’re finding it tougher than Liffeys and Ballymun. We’re a very young side with an average age of about 22. I have eight 19-year-olds whereas the other two clubs have a bit more experience.

“Our lads are trying to find their feet and learn at a very high level, and that end of it has been a little bit difficult for us.

“We’re confident we can stay in it, we don’t believe we don’t deserve to be there, but we’re probably making a few more mistakes than the other teams through a lack of experience.

“The two lads will make us a bit stronger. The numbers at training are outstanding – we average 20 players for the Sunday squad alone every session.
“The lads are committed and working hard, and hopefully the hard work will pay off and that little bit of inexperience won’t hurt us as we close out the campaign.”

“The lads are committed and working hard, and hopefully the hard work will pay off and that little bit of inexperience won’t hurt us as we close out the campaign.”