Fast start seals the Points

An unbelievable opening four minutes during which they grabbed three goals sealed the points for Newry City at The Showgrounds against in form Dundela. The scene was set in the opening minute when a clever ball inside the Dundela left back found Kevin McArdle in space deep inside the penalty area, McArdle feigning to cross before beating Alan Blaney at his near post from an acute angle.

The home support were still celebrating the opening goal when Newry doubled the advantage, Grant again involved picking out the run of Keith Johnston, Johnston continuing into the penalty area before switching the ball across the box to Mark Hughes who wasted no time blasting a high shot past Blaney in the Dundela net.

Photograph courtesy of NML Football

Incredibly the home side made it three with less than four minutes on the clock, Decky Carville wining the ball inside the Dundela half, Johnston once more the provider switching play to Hughes on the left wing, the Newry captain bearing down on goal before calmly shooting back across Blaney into the far corner of the Dundela net. And it could have been four for Newry after ten minutes with the roles reversed, Hughes swinging a low cross into the Dundela box into the path of Johnston who tried his luck with an instinctive first time shot, Blaney on top this time blocking with his legs.

Obviously rattled by Newry’s opening blitz it took the visitors until the 20th minute before they troubled the Newry keeper, Jamie Jackson crossing for Matthew Burrows to head on goal, Kieran Gordon making a comfortable save.

Spurred by this Dundela created a flurry of half chances, Jackson firing a shot over the crossbar when set up by Ben Roy. On the half hour mark Gordon was called into action again, quickly off his line to deflect a Burrows effort for a corner. The half ended with two good chances for Newry, Grant out pacing the Dundela defence to make room on the right wing before squaring the ball for Hughes who was unfortunate to see his shot go the wrong side of the Dundela post. And the half closed with a glorious chance for Newry to wrap up the points, Grants through ball giving Thomas McCann a one on one with Blaney, the keeper using all his experience to steal the ball at McCann’s feet.

Photograph courtesy of

Dundela introduced Mark McClelland at the break and the big man brought an immediate aerial threat to the Newry goal which paid dividends on the hour mark, McClelland heading a crossed ball down to Burrows at the back post, the striker finishing from close range.

Any lingering hope of a Dundela come back was extinguished five minutes later when Newry restored the three-goal lead with a route one goal, Gordons long clearance won by Carville who with a glancing header released Johnston for a run on goal, Johnston making ground before blasting a high shot past Blaney for an empathic finish.

On 70 minutes Carville almost claimed Newry’s fifth goal, picked out at the back post by a pin point cross from Ian Curran, Carville controlled the ball on his chest before attempting an audacious lob unfortunate to see his effort bounce off the cross bar. With time running out the final chance of the day fell to the visitors, a ricochet around midfield saw the ball spring into the Newry half giving Burrows a free run on goal, Gordon alert to the danger quickly off his line to save.

NCAFC Chairman Martin McLoughlin with MOTM Kevin McArdle.

After the game Newry manager Darren Mullen was obviously satisfied with his teams’ efforts “There were some harsh words before the game due to the inconsistent nature of how the players have applied themselves this season. The defeat against Newington was disappointing so we needed a reaction and that’s exactly what happened. To score three goals in the first four minutes at any level doesn’t happen too often so to do it against a good side in Dundela makes it even more special. They couldn’t cope with our pace and movement and we really should have been more than three up at half time. Kevin McArdle was rightly named man of the match but I thought the whole team was superb from start to finish. The second half was a tighter affair but we never looked in danger of losing the game and it was a really good win for us. With ten games to go we are in a good position but yesterday’s performance has set a high bench mark and one that we cannot afford to fall below if we are to get anything out of this season”

Newry now wait two weeks for their next competitive fixture, a home league match against Tobermore on March 11th. Newry City Reserves who are well placed to win the Mid Ulster Reserve league have an important league fixture at The Showgrounds next Saturday 4th March against local side Valley Rangers. KO 2.15pm.

Match Highlights courtesy of NCAFC TV

Many thanks to Match Day Mascots Charlotte & Amy O’Hare who definitely brought the boys luck!! We hope to see you both back at The Showgrounds soon.

Newry City AFC Team: Kieran Gordon, Kevin McArdle, Stephen McCabe, Patrick Mooney, John Boyle, Thomas McCann, Marcus McKeown, Timmy Grant, Declan Carville, Keith Johnston, Mark Hughes. Subs: Ian Curran, Sean McMullan, James Walker, Mark Patton, Marty Havern.

Dundela Team: Alan Blayney, Scott Collins, Curtis Brown, Stephen McCain, Lewis Roy, Ben Murdock, Jamie Jackson, Karl Devine, Matthew Burrows, Ben Roy, David McMaster. Subs: James Sofley, Matthew Ferguson, Jordan Morrison, Gary Irwin, Mark McClelland.

Match photographs courtesy of NML Full album of photos available: