Park travelled to Celtic Park in good spirits today on the back of a good home win the previous week over Killarney Athletic. On a splendid day for football, it was nip and tuck during the first half with both sides creating good chances. Park were the more skillful team but the more physical Celtic side always posed a threat and it took some solid defending from Park’s back four of Tomas Leen, Kevan Foley, Sean Tansley and Nathan O’Leary to keep them at bay.
Goalkeeper and skipper, Killian Moran was outstanding in this half and made a superb finger-tip save by pushing what looked like a certain goal-bound effort onto the crossbar. Park weren’t found wanting going forward though and driven on by fine midfield performances from Michael Walsh and the tough-tackling Gary Howard, with good support from wingers Aaron Shanahan and Shane McGinley, they created several chances of their own with Donagh O’Brien always dangerous and his partner, Eamon Sheehy being particularly unlucky with a fantastic volley that brought a brilliant save from the Celtic keeper.
However, Park’s pressure was eventuaLly rewarded when O’Brien latched onto a through ball and placed his shot beyond the keeper (followed by his Danny Graham-style celebration) to send Park into the break 1-0 to the good.
Events changed dramatically in the second half however after Celtic introduced 3 “A” team players and although no more skilful than the Park lads, the extra physique made all the difference and Celtic raced into a 3-1 lead within 15 minutes. Park introduced Pawel Duda, Robbie Dinan, Joseph Griffin, Wale Yusuf and Ciaran Killeen in an effort to stem the tide and with all five making their presence felt, Park pulled a goal back when young “Kiwi” Killeen finished with aplomb to give the Tralee lads a lifeline.
Celtic had the final say though and sealed the victory with a good finish, but this was still a solid performance from the Park lads. They are improving with every session and if they continue to progress, they will be there or thereabouts when the medals are handed out at this season’s end.