Kilworth Celtic 0
PASSAGE were crowned Beamish Stout Senior Third Division champions following their 5-0 win over Kilworth Celtic at Rockenham Park on Friday.
The unbeaten champions completed their task with four games to spare after a superb run of games saw them win 12 of their 14 league games.
Passage have scored 66 goals to date, 14 of them coming in their previous league wins over Friday’s opponents and they might well have added more than the five that they scored here.
To their credit, Kilworth Celtic cannot be faulted for a lack of effort and, indeed, played some decent football on the night.
However, they had no answer to a relentless Passage side that started the game with blistering pace.
There were early chances for Mark O’Sullivan and Derek Varian; the former drove the ball wide at the far post after four minutes and Varian had a header held by Kilworth keeper Thomas Twomey after an Adam Papa Murphy cross from the right.
Seconds later, man of the match Ryan Hunter forced Twomey into a save at his near post and the pressure continued when a Canice Caffrey cross was met by Colm O’Driscoll whose header went over when he might have done better.
O’Driscoll and Murphy were causing Kilworth problems on the wings and midway through the half, a Murphy surge forward was halted illegally resulting in a Passage free near the right touchline 30 yards from goal.
Caffrey spotted Twomey shifting to his right to cover the delivery into the box, allowing the Passage midfielder sight of goal at his near post and he curled a beauty into the top corner with the keeper scrambling in vain.
Passage continued to pour forward in search of more goals and just before the half-hour mark O’Sullivan won possession just inside the Kilworth half, broke into the penalty area on the right and was unlucky to see his effort go narrowly wide at the far post.
Five minutes later, Passage doubled their tally when Murphy’s low cross into the penalty area was swept home by Hunter.
Kilworth had struggled to get into the game, though they had good performances from Sean Shanahan in midfield and Eoin Condon up front.
They did have a chance to reduce the deficit five minutes before half-time when Kevin Dolan’s shot from outside the box forced Passage keeper Gary Hartnett into a good save.
However, the visitors found themselves 3-0 down at the break when Caffrey released O’Driscoll wide on the left and he did well to beat his marker before digging out a cross for Varian to head home.
Passage continued to press after the break and early in the half, O’Sullivan showed all his class and experience to beat a couple of defenders on the right endline before forcing Twomey into a save at his near post at the expense of a corner.
A similar move by the former Cork City and Avondale United striker, on the left endline this time, saw him drive the ball low into the box with a stretching Hunter unable to make contact.
Kilworth were more of a threat in the second half and enjoyed a bit more possession, however, chances were scarce, though Condon had a long-range shot saved by Hartnett for a corner.
Passage continued to pose the bigger goal threat, however, and on 73 minutes Murphy got the goal his performance deserved after a fine strike.
Both sides emptied their bench in the second half and two of Passage’s subs, Darragh O’Sullivan and Kieran Burke, were involved in the champions’ fifth goal with two minutes remaining; the former doing well to engineer the chance for Burke who curled a low shot into the corner from the edge of the penalty area.
Celebrations followed shortly afterwards, though they are sure to be short with a Pop Keller Cup semi-final away to Leeds on Wednesday (6.15pm) on their horizon.
PASSAGE: Gary Hartnett, Gary Prout, James Kind, Eamonn Fitzgerald, Eoghan Fahy, Ryan Hunter, Canice Caffrey, Colm O’Driscoll, Adam Papa Murphy, Mark O’Sullivan, Derek Varian.
Subs: Kieran Burke for Varian (60), Christopher Murphy and Shane Burke for O’Driscoll and O’Sullivan (both 72), Darragh O’Sullivan for Murphy (78).
KILWORTH CELTIC: Thomas Twomey, Jamie Condon, Henry Allen, Ryan Jordan, Eoghan Cody, Sean Shanahan, Tarren Kelly, Kevin Dolan, Eoin Condon, James Loughlan, Ciaran Gowen.
Subs: Dean Jordan for Kelly (half-time), Kalin Kelly and Sean Hegarty for Loughlan and Allen (both 70), Patrick Loughlan and Cathal Donoghue for Gowen and Cody (both 75)
Referee: Ray Murphy.