Samuel Gelston’s Whiskey Irish Cup Round Two

Belfast Celtic 6 Maiden City 1
Perfect weather conditions, a picturesque backdrop and the opportunity to progress to the third round of the Irish Cup were the ingredients of Saturday’s encounter between Belfast Celtic and Maiden City. 

The home team began the match poorly, with a few nervous moments in defence as well as too much space in the middle of the park for the City trio of Carlin, Dallas and Kee, who ran the game in the early stages. 

Belfast Celtic struggled to get near the midfield of the travelling Maiden City, and it was Dallas and Kee of the aforementioned midfield trio who combined to set up the first goal. 

Dallas picked up the ball on the halfway line before firing it into the feet of Kee who took the ball on the half turn and played a delightful through ball into the path of Sweeney, who calmly slotted it underneath the onrushing McLaughlin. 1-0 to the visitors, and a nightmare start for Belfast Celtic.


Belfast Celtic slowly but surely started to grow into the game, with a few hard challenges from the likes of Hyland and McKernan providing a much-needed wake-up call to those around them. 

It was evident very early on that any success Celtic would have, would come down the right-hand side. The fans watching on were soon transported to the Britannia Stadium circa 2010 as defender Stephen Tully gave his best Rory Delap impression, which proved to be more than effective. 

The long throw troubled the Maiden City defence, who looked uncomfortable dealing with the aerial presence of Brendan Glackin. 

Maiden City showed early on their intentions, with the back four and goalkeeper Ray Kelly (who made a couple of Ederson-like passes out to his midfield early in the first half) all more than comfortable with the ball at their feet.

The Belfast Celtic pressure on the backline of Maiden City began to grow, with a few nervous moments playing out only serving to add to the uncertainty at the back.

It was to be the long throw of Tully that would provide the equaliser for Belfast Celtic after it once again caused anxiety in the Maiden City box. 

Goalkeeper Kelly could only get a hand to the ball before it looped into the air allowing Glackin to head home from two yards out. A well-deserved equaliser after Celtic had recovered from a less than satisfactory start. 


Belfast Celtic could now sense they had Maiden City on the back foot, and turned up the pressure. A couple of yellow cards in quick succession for Celtic midfielders as well as a firm word in the ear for midfielder Kelly after a late tackle on full back Curry simply reminded Celtic of the need for cool heads, as travelling Maiden City fans began calling for the referee to hand out more bookings. 

Insistence from Maiden City to keep playing out from the back, despite the high press from Belfast Celtic, gifted Celtic the lead. A pass from goalkeeper Kelly to the under pressure full-back Curry allowed Kelly to nick the ball and play Glackin through, who tucked it under the goalkeeper for his second of the afternoon. Celtic now led for the first time in the match.

It looked as though Maiden City were going to make it to half-time just a goal down after a couple of half chances late in the half from Kee and O’Connor for the visitors, however a nothing shot from Kelly 30 yards out was fumbled by his namesake, allowing Glackin to nip in and grab a first half hat trick. Well deserved, after the number 9 hadn’t given the defenders a moment's rest for the first 45 minutes. Half time, and Belfast Celtic led 3-1.

Maiden City started the second half the same way they began the first; on top, playing lovely football in the middle of the park and trying to find the runs of McCaul in behind Tully.

The City midfielders were trying isolate Tully, however the big defender, determined not to get caught in a foot race with City’s wingers, was quick to close them down at every opportunity, allowing them no space to turn. Tully himself also picked up where he left off in the first half, winning every aerial duel and barking orders at the rest of his team. 


A period of pressure for City was sparked by an incredible run and the quick feet of Sweeney, who left Hyland for dead before cutting it back to the edge of the six-yard box, however none of his City teammates gambled on the opportunity. This period of pressure for City was marred with half chances, players often playing one pass too many, and an overall lack of decisiveness.

Maiden City defenders must have thought their luck was in when Glackin, who had tormented them all afternoon, was replaced by substitute Darren Murray, however it wasn’t long before he was picking up where Glackin had left off; hounding the travelling defence. 

It didn’t take long before the determination of Murray paid off, with the Belfast City striker beating defender Devine to win a header and flicking it on for Kelly, who latched on to score his first of the evening in the 71st minute. 4-1 to Belfast Celtic.

Maiden City again created a few decent opportunities to try and make the last 15 minutes uncomfortable for the home side, but once again indecisiveness in the opposition box cost them. 

Maiden City substitute Mark Toland managed to dribble his way past a number of Celtic defenders inside the box but just couldn’t manage to work it back onto his right foot, or pick out a teammate, allowing for defender Lillis to make what felt like his 100th clearance of the second half. 

Whilst Maiden City enjoyed most of the ball, it was once again Celtic who proved to be the most clinical, as winger Eamonn Kelly this time turned provider and returned the favour to Murray who chipped the goalkeeper from the edge of the box with a delicate finish with the outside of the right boot. No less than he deserved. 

Belfast Celtic weren’t finished there and it was once again the pair of Murray and Kelly combining to devastating effect. Kelly outmuscled defender Devine on the halfway line before playing it into the channel for Murray who pulled it back for Kelly to fire it home past the goalkeeper for his second of the evening and Belfast Celtic’s sixth. 

Whilst the score line suggests a one-sided drubbing for the home team, the performances on the pitch tell a different story. 

Maiden City dominated for large parts of the game but were undoubtedly reminded of how cruel football can be to those who do not take their chances – a case of the indecisive versus the clinical. 

As for Belfast Celtic, it is precisely this type of performance they will need to take into the next round of the Irish Cup, and beyond – solid at the back, a midfield of workers and ruthless in front of goal. 

BELFAST CELTIC: P McLaughlin, D Snoddon, D Hyland (L O’Brien), A Lillis, S Tully (C Donnelly), P J Nesbitt, S McKernan (K O’Neill), E Templeton (McGonnell), B Glackin (D Murray), D Taggart, E Kelly.
Goal scorers: B Glackin 23, 36, 45, E Kelly 71, 82, D Murray 80.

MAIDEN CITY: R Kelly, L Curry, C Moore, R Devine, L Toland, S Carlin, B Sweeney(L Street), L Dallas, T O’Connor, J Kee (McGavigan), R McCaul (M Toland).
Goal scorer: B Sweeney 5.