Sat 07 May 16
Score: 3 - 1
Trim Celtic have won the NEFL Challenge Cup for just the second time in their history by beating Navan Cosmos 3-1 at United Park Drogheda on Saturday night. The Navan side were chasing a treble having already lifted the Kilmessan Shield and Premier Division trophies. In the three previous meetings this season Cosmos had won two and the other was a draw so they deservedly went in as favourites, however with a full squad to chose from for the first time against these opponents Trim Celtic manager Paddy O'Reilly knew he had the squad to bring home the trophy. With some of our most ardent supporters and former players out of the country members of the Campbell, Tully, and Goggins families along with the last two Brody Cup winners Danny Connell and Colm Smith were destined to miss one of the biggest games in the club's history, or so they thought. One man had other ideas and in an unprecedented move the game was streamed live around the world on our Facebook page thanks to the foresight and determination of Robbie Connell. With a little help from WIFI and long length batteries supporters tuned in from Lourdes, the USA, Ghana and Qatar and of course back home in Trim as well as many other exotic locations. Huge credit must go to Robbie for arranging this, as it was a huge success. Cheered on by a huge Trim support in the ground Celtic started well and controlled the opening tempo of the match. Brian Faulkner and Colm Carney were always looking to get in behind the Cosmos defence and were thwarted on several occasions by the offside flag. Their energy and workrate were a feature of the game with Faulkner constantly working hard to win back possession and Carney always a willing runner stretching the opposition defence. Carney had an early penalty shout turned down after his fiercely hit shot appeared to come off the arm of a defender. With chances at a premium at both ends Faulkner came closest with a header from a Colm O'Reilly cross, however he was stretching to reach it and couldn't generate enough power or direction to trouble the keeper. The game was stop start at times with many fouls, Eoin O'Connor was on the receiving end of two bad late tackles but returned to the action after treatment both times unperturbed in an assured performance that belied his years. Club Captain Cyril Halton also needed to receive treatment after a sickening but accidental clash of heads but he was patched up and returned to the heart of the defence. Given the nature of some of the tackles that went unpunished James Goggins was unlucky to find himself in the book after an innocuous foul in the centre circle. Given his style of play Goggins was walking on a tightrope but managed to stay out of the referee's notebook, if not attention, for the remainder of his superb involvement. The deadlock was broken in the 38th minute when an O'Reilly corner was met by a well timed Paul Campbell run and the inspirational midfielder wheeled away in celebration as his powerful header found the top corner to give Celtic the lead. Minutes later Campbell almost scored a sensational second but his lob from this halfway line drifted narrowly wide. Celtic's pressing of the Navan side's defence was a feature of the game and it bore fruit shortly before the break as Faulkner picked the pocket of the centre half before sliding a perfectly timed and weighted through ball to Carney, who himself had timed his run to perfection, with the striker rounding the keeper before finishing superbly to the top corner. Cosmos responded with a couple of speculative efforts and a header that drifted over but there was nothing to trouble Celtic keeper Iain Telford and they held a 2-0 lead at the break. Those in attendance were given a glimpse of the future as the halftime entertainment was provided by both clubs 7s sections playing against each other. Hopefully some of them will get to play at the stadium in their club's colours in the future, who knows they may meet again in years to come. Cosmos came out fighting in the second half and almost pulled a goal back with a header from a corner. Celtic responded with a long range effort from the excellent Anthony Craig that was gathered by the keeper. Telford was finally called into action but easily stopped a Cosmos half volley from the edge of the box. Cosmos did pull a goal back with a Conor McManus header from a corner. Celtic's Eoin O'Connor appeared to be fouled but a corner was awarded and their captain headed home. Celtic were now soaking up some pressure with Cyril Halton, now sporting a Terry Butcher style blood stained headband, just doing enough to put off a Cosmos player from another corner, before blocking another goal bound effort. From the resulting corner Cosmos produced a superb flowing set piece but O'Connor flung himself in the way to block the final shot. Cosmos were showing why they already had two trophies in the cabinet this season and were turning the screw. The Navan side forced Telford into the save of the match when Conor Walsh's point black header was beaten away superbly by the Trim net minder. Buoyed by this crucial save the big keeper relieved the pressure from the resulting corner with a mammoth one handed punch that set substitute Aaron Ryan away. The mercurial Ryan spotted the Cosmos keeper was off his line and attempted an audacious lob from well inside his own half that had the whole crowd aghast but ultimately drifted wide. Cosmos continued to pile forward but the Celtic rearguard of O'Connor, FitzGerald, Jones and Halton were up to the task. Halton in particular was getting his head to everything and it was during this period that he surely sealed the Man of the Match award he would eventually win. With five minutes remaining young substitute Declan Dowling, who has had an excellent first season in senior football, won the ball in midfield where it broke kindly to Aaron Ryan who's superb skill and quick feet set him clear of one Cosmos defender, before he committed another then slipped the ball to Colm O'Reilly who finished superbly from the edge of the box setting off wild celebrations in the Celtic side of the stadium. There was still time for the starlet of Celtic's 2001 triumph in the competition, Derek Donohoe, to enter the fray and show some typical flashes of brilliance while also helping Celtic to relieve some pressure by retaining possession in the Cosmos half for the remaining minutes. After 3 minutes of injury time referee Pat Henry's whistle sounded to crown Trim Celtic 3-1 winners. After the trophy was presented to team captain Brian Faulkner and club captain Cyril Halton, Faulkner commiserated with Cosmos but congratulated them on a fantastic season, he also thanked his teammates, the management team of Manager Paddy O'Reilly, assistant Peter O'Reilly, Goalkeeping coach Des Munnelly and physio Ferdia McKeon. The club would like to congratulate Paddy, his coaching staff and all the players on a superb performance and victory. Also thanks to our main sponsor 3 Store Trim, to our match day sponsors Crew Barbers for sponsoring the squad's new tops, the Castle Arch Hotel for providing the pre-match meal and Donie Quinn Taxis for providing the bus, the players were given the best possible preparation and duly delivered. Also thanks to Fabio's take away and McCormack's bar for the post match food and entertainment. Finally a huge thanks to our magnificent supporters to everyone who came to United Park to cheer the team on, the atmosphere was amazing and really spurred the team on. It was great to see so many young fans in the Hoops so thanks to the managers for getting them all there and contributing immensely to the occasion. To everyone who sent messages of support both before and since the final thank you all very much, we are grateful to have the support of our local community.