*Jack Kelly got the all-important goal for Newmarket Celtic. Photograph: Joe Buckley
REIGNING FAI Junior Cup champions, Newmarket Celtic got the defence of the national title off to a successful start with opening round wins also recorded by Avenue Utd, Fairgreen Celtic, Shannon Olympic and Shannon Town Utd.
Kilrush Rangers and Mountshannon bow out of the competition while Bunratty Cratloe FC gave a walkover. Lifford’s clash against Creeves was called off due to an unplayable pitch, the tie has been refixed for this Sunday in Ennis.
Winning start for champions
Newmarket Celtic 1
Venue: Georgie O’Callaghan Park, Castleisland
Despite being down a shore of first-choice players, Newmarket Celtic began their defence of the FAI Junior Cup with an away victory.
Captain Eoin Hayes was lining out with the Newmarket-on-Fergus senior hurlers in Cusack Park as they bowed out of the Clare SHC while Kevin Harnett and Gearoid O’Brien were also unavailable due to their respective commitments with Cratloe and Kilrush Shamrocks for the upcoming semi-finals in the senior and intermediate football championships.
As a result, it allowed Paddy Purcell and his management to give a first start in the competition for Cian Foley, Davy Lennon and Cael Gaffney.
Jack Kelly who was one of the key players in Newmarket’s success last season stepped up with the all-important goal to ensure Celtic headed home from Kerry on a high.
Their spirits have been lifted further with confirmation that coach Stephen Austin is returning, having previously signalled that he was to take time out.
Newmarket Celtic: Shane Cusack; Davy Lennon, Ethan Fitzgerald, Harvey Cullinan, Cael Gaffney; Aaron Rudd, Jack Kelly, Cian Foley; Nathan Boaventura, Ronan McCormack, Tadhg Noonan.
Avenue overcome Bridge again
Avenue Utd 2
Bridge Utd 1
For the second week in a row, Avenue Utd were victorious against Bridge Utd. This time, the competition was different and the tie itself was much more competitive.
A second round tie with Limerick club Shountrade is the reward for Avenue Utd after they prevailed in a tight contest against Bridge Utd. It was in stark contrast to their 5-0 win over the same opposition in the Premier Division a week earlier.
It took just seven minutes for Avenue to open their account. Captain Ronan Kerin was fouled with referee Shane Hayes awarding a penalty which was duly dispatched to the net by Nnabuike Nneji.
A second goal was on the cards when Kerin teed up Elias Kunz on twenty six minutes but solid defending from the Sixmilebridge club eliminated the danger.
An equaliser looked to be on the cards, first Avenue had full-back Cullen McCabe to thank for averting the danger from a corner but the pressure eventually paid off with Kyle Kirby making use of space at the back post to put the ball past Luke Woodrow.
Fresh from his return to the club after spending some years in Australia, ex Pike Rovers winger Paddy O’Malley made his mark in the second half and was putting together some passes to allow Avenue threaten on goal.
O’Malley had a role to play in Vincent Onouha’s match-winning goal on sixty one minutes with further chances from Witness Odirile and Kerin coming up just short.
Avenue Utd: Luke Woodrow; Cullen McCabe, Conor Mullen, Jamie Roche, Conor Hehir; Eoghan Thynne, Stephen Jordan, Nnabuike Nneji, Vincent Onouha, Ronan Kerin, Elias Kunz.
Subs: Paddy O’Malley for Jordan, Witness Odirile for Onouha, Michael Dinan for Thynne.
Bridge Utd: John Mulready; Leon Kelly, Alan Mulready, Lee Mulready, Ciaran Monaghan; Conor Deasy, Paul Corry, Christy Griffin, Liam Buckley, Kyle Kirby, Jack O’Halloran.
Subs: Brian Corry for Kirby, Seadna Morey for P Corry, Aidan Moloney for Buckley, Luc Fitzpatrick for L Mulready (inj).
Super start for Shannon Town
Shannon Town Utd 5
Venue: Lynch Park, Shannon
Shannon Town proved much too strong for their Kerry opponents Ballyheigue to comfortably seal their place in the second round of the FAI Junior Cup.
By half-time, they led 2-0 with Kai Khetan getting the opener while an own goal saw Steo Dolan’s side double their advantage by the interval.
Midfielder Charlie Morrison made it 3-0 before an error in the Shannon Town defence saw them concede an own goal.
Kieran Hackett and captain TJ O’Dwyer managed to hit the target to ensure they picked up an impressive 5-1 victory.
A much stiffer test awaits this weekend when Shannon Town face Newmarket Celtic in the first round of the Munster Junior Cup.
Shannon Town Utd: Gary Cusack, Cody Waller, Steven Carroll, James Fahy, Brian Monaghan; TJ O’Dwyer, Eoghan Gough, Kieran Hackett, Charlie Morrisson, Kai Khetan, Jack Ryan.
Subs: Alex Meaney, Colin Curran, Jamie Doyle, Cian Johnson, Ziggy Wall.
Fair Green march on
Fair Green Celtic 5
Mountshannon Celtic 1
Venue: Lees Rd
Having felt they exited the FAI Junior Cup competition prematurely last season, Fair Green Celtic were determined to make a mark in their second season.
They proved too strong for Mountshannon Celtic and recorded a 5-1 victory against a side that competed in last year’s Premier Division.
Dean Coughlan netted a hat-trick while Lee Clohessy bagged a brace as they booked their spot in the second round.
Fair Green Celtic: Aidan Jordan, David McMahon, Ruairi Norrby, Jack Walsh, Pa Sherlock, William Bello, Tega, Ross McCarthy, Eoghan Fox, Dean Coughlan, Lee Clohessy.
Kilrush Rangers 1
Premier Division side Kilrush Rangers bowed out of the FAI Junior Cup after struggling against the West Limerick soccer club which was established this year.
It wasn’t until the eighty fifth minute that Kilrush managed to pull a goal back but by this stage they were already trailing by three goals and on their way out of the national competition. They lined out without their first choice goalkeeper for the tie.
Patrick Ivess goaled for the hosts before half-time with the remaining goals finished to the net by Kenneth O’Donoghue and Sam Duggan.
Kilrush Rangers: Jack Cleary, Tomasz Zajas, Norbert Knucki, Kirill Antonov, Cathal Carrig, Luke Talty, Patrick Clair, Richie Gajdecki, Dean Neary, Filip Rzymek, Jamie Griffin.
Subs: Chigbo Godwin, Robbie Byrnes, Marlon Perara, Karl Murphy, Thomas Clair.
FAI Junior Cup Round 1
Avenue United A 2-1 Bridge United A
Fairgreen Celtic 5-1 Mountshannon Celtic
Creeves Celtic P-P Lifford
Shannon Olympic 3-2 Broadford Utd AET
Castleisland 0-1 Newmarket Celtic A
Shountrade W/O Bunratty cratloe Scr.
Askeaton 3-1 Kilrush Rangers
Shannon Town A 5-1 Ballyheigue Athletic
Brian Pyne Tiles Second Division
Avenue United B P-P Manus Celtic
Hermitage A 0-2 Fern Celtic
Brownies Barber Shop Third Division
Callan United 5-2 Hermitage B