By Jack Flynn
Sligo 3-10, Celtics 2-8
The match went down to the wire, but Conor Healy’s late goal put Sligo ahead and Ian Mullens’s second goal was the clincher for his team’s exciting 3-10 to 2-8 victory of Celtics in a Senior Football B match at Gaelic Park on Sunday.
“It was a good match with a good finish,” Mullen said. “It came with hard work from the whole team.” The finish was the key for Sligo, who jumped out to a big early lead, saw it whittled away to nothing, then came back to win in heroic fashion.
After Celtics scored the first point of the day to take the early advantage, Sligo answered with four straight points to go up 0-4 to 0-1. Kieran Considine was strong throughout the day for Sligo notching two first-half points and four overall.
Danny O’Sullivan put a ball over the bar to make the score 0-4 to 0-2 and temporarily put a hold to Sligo’s scoring.
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They weren’t off the scoreboard for long, however. Mullen followed an Austin Whelan point with his first goal of the day to make the score 1-5 to 0-2 in favor of Sligo.
Mullen’s first effort was stopped by Celtics keeper Neil Kelly, but his second effort evaded not only the keeper but also a Celtics full back who dropped back to help out.
Throughout the scoring run, Sligo hardly looked like world beaters. But Celtics looked terrible on both sides of the ball. Manager Donie Sullivan tried substituting liberally, replacing veteran players with new blood in an effort to infuse some life in his team, but nothing seemed to shake Celtics out of their doldrums.
The second half began with Sligo six points clear of their opponents, 1-6 to 0-3. Whelan and Noel Fitzgerald both saw their point tries deflect off the crossbar and into the arms of Celtic players as they tried to extend Sligo’s lead in the opening minutes.
As the second half wore on, Celtics finally began to show some life behind the play of O’Sullivan and Paddy Donohue and began fighting their way back into the match.
Danny O’Sullivan’s fine goal brought Celtics to within two points of Sligo, 1-9 to 1-7, and Aiden Traynor’s beauty with the hour growing late gave Celtics their first lead since the opening moments of the match.
Kenny Cox sent a long free into the box that was deflected by Donohue straight to Traynor, who wasted no time in putting the ball into the net and giving Celtics a 2-8 to 1-10 lead.
The last three scores of the match were goals. Unfortunately for Celtics, it was Sligo who scored the last two.
Conor Healy’s go-ahead goal was set up because of a brilliant play by his brother Stephen, who blocked down a Wesley Otero pass to set Sligo in motion. The ball ended up on the foot of Conor Healy, whose shot appeared to fool Kelly, the Celtics keeper, and landed in the back of the net.
Mullen’s second goal was the last score of the match and put the icing on Sligo’s victory cake.
Sligo scorers: Mullen 2-2, C. Healy 1-0, Considine 0-4, Whelan 0-2, Reynolds and Brennan 0-1.
Celtics: Traynor 1-1, D. Sullivan 1-0, D. O’Sullivan 0-4, Cox, Rooney and Donohue 0-1.