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LEINSTER SENIOR LEAGUE SHANLAR MAJOR 1 SUNDAY

Five star Montpelier FC romp to league title as Byrne stars at Grangegorman

MONTPELIER FC…….5 STELLA MARIS………..0

THE fireworks that lit up the Grangegorman night sky was a good indication of how meteoric the rise of Montpelier FC has been. 

A five-nil demolition of Stella Maris ensured the Shanlar Limited sponsored Major 1 Sunday league title was secured by the club with a few games still left in the tank. 

Opponents Stella Maris offered solid resistance but the loss of talisman Jonathon Rock after 14 minutes was a handicap they simply could not overcome. 

By EAMON SCOTT

That said, the John Chandler and Tony O’Connor managed Montpelier were full value for their success with only one league defeat over the campaign while their home record remains unblemished at Grangegorman. 

LORCAN BYRNE IS CONGRATULATED BY TEAM MATES AFTER OPENING THE SCORING AGAINST STELLA MARIS

Remarkably, the opening period was one of frustration for the eventual victors and that started from the second minute when claims for a handball in the Stella Maris box was dismissed by referee John Thornton.

 Montpelier were pinging long diagonal balls for widemen Ger Loftus and Lorcan Byrne to chase and it looked their most productive avenue of approach. 

And that is how the opening goal arrived courtesy of Byrne who controlled a long flighted ball and with one touch set himself up to fire past Owen Smart with a sumptuous finish to the net. 

It calmed the home side’s nerves who needed just a point to claim the title and their prospects improved three minutes after taking the lead when Stella were reduced to 10-men when serial goalscorer Jonathon Rock was given a straight red for what was deemed to be an overactive elbow.

Rock protested his innocence but Thornton was not for turning.  Stella – despite their youth – battled manfully and made life difficult for the home side and matched their title chasing opponents in terms of endeavor and application. 

Monpelier dominated possession but  simply could not translate that advantage on the scoresheet thanks to gritty Stella defending and some wayward shooting from the home side.

Alan O’Brien and Darren O’Brien were excellent with their touch and control and were at the heart of much of Montpelier’s approach work while fullbacks Hayden Murphy and Sean Keenan looked to get forward down the flanks to support the attack.

Still that second goal would not come and it was Byrne who came closest on 27 minutes when he came in from an angle down the left channel but his rasper of a shot fizzed past Smart’s upright for a big let-off.

 Manager Chandler at the half-time break reminded his players of some home truths by giving encouragement to move the ball better and maintain the high tempo they had produced over the course of the opening 45-minuteS.

 Montpelier responded immediately and began to stroke the ball around impressively on the restart and it was another long ball over the top which delivered goal number two of 50 minutes when centre forward Ciaran ‘Bobby’ Horan showed excellent execution taking the dropping ball in his stride and deftly looping it over the advancing Smart for the ball to nestle in the back of the Stella net.

BOBBY HORAN CELEBRATES FINDING THE STELLA MARIS NET

 Stella still offered a measure of resistance and Dylan Kelly and Adam Reid were prominent while Gareth Rock tried manfully to get his side going. 

On the hour mark Stella put in a big appeal for a penalty but again referee Thornton said ‘no’ and immediately Monteplier broke upfield and with Horan chasing down the ball Stella netminder Smart came off the line only to see the ball rebound off one of his own defenders and eventually Aaron Hughes cleared to safety. 

Stella then created an opportunity with a sweeping move with Anto McDonnell delivering a brilliant cross and with Jack Place about to pounce Montpelier keeper Anthony McGuinness got down to save bravely. 

There was a raft of substitutions by both sides and it broke the rhythm of the game but David Scully showed up well for Montpelier  by feeding the ball wide and the resultant cross was gleefully nodded home by Bobby Horan from eight yards out getting between two Stella defenders.

 There were still 18 odd minutes left but the bumper attendance of over 200 fans were already kicking off the celebrations as Montpelier entered the home straight with the league title in sight.

MONTPELIER FC MANAGEMENT ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR LOYAL SUPPORTERS

But a blot on the copybook saw Cian Dunne upend Stella’s Alter Camio for Thornton to finally point to the spot. Agonisingly for the visitors, the same player  saw his spot kick effort  correctly guessed by McGuinness  as he dived  to his right to keep his goal intact. 

There was however more entertainment from the home side who were now passing the ball around the Grangegorman surface with polished ease after that ‘let-off’ and on 84 minutes a sweeping move involving several players saw David Scully finish with a smart drive as he set off to celebrate in front of the Montpelier ‘Ultras’ 

The game was done but the final twist saw Man of the Match Lorcan Byrne complete a brilliant move with Scully and Horan involved in a one touch dribble into the Stella area and the talented Byrne bookended the scoring with his second and Montpelier’s fifth after a selfless set-up by Scully who could have netted himself.

 John Thornton’s final blow of the whistle moments after the restart set off joyous scenes for the home side which was backdropped by a colourful fireworks display.

CHAMPIONS: MONTPELIER FC CELEBRATE THEIR LEAGUE TITLE SUCCESS AT GRANGEGORMAN

 There was also lots of back-slapping and hugs with Keith Curtain of the Leinster Senior League on hand to present the league trophy to skipper Cian O’Brien. 

Certainly John Chandler and Tony O’Connor have created a potent mix that is now Montpelier FC. This is a squad of youth and experience with lots of talent and good ball players within. 

For a club only founded in 2015 they have made excellent progress in such a short time and much of that is down to the support of their sponsors who include ‘One Escape’ Health Club, French Kenny Solicitors, Hanlon’s Corner, Cobblers Coffee Shop and 4 Hundred Barbers.

 If this squad sticks together they can certainly become a force but Chandler admitted that holding onto the talent that is Lorcan Byrne might be difficult – if League of Ireland clubs care to check out his playing credentials.

As the green flare smoke cleared from the Grangegorman pitch, the squad and supporters enmasse headed for Hanlon’s Corner for a well earned ‘knees-up’ They’d earned it!

IT’S OURS: KEITH CURTAIN, LSL, CENTRE, PRESENTS THE LEAGUE TROPHY TO MONTPELIER FC CIAN O’BRIEN AND MARK FITZGERALD, HONORARY SECRETARY OF MONTPELIER FC. Photos: Eamon Scott

MONTPELIER FC: Anthony McGuinness; Hayden Murphy, Sean Keenan, Scott Fitzsimons, Kevin Dalton, Cian Dunne, Ger Loftus, Alan Lynch, Ciaran Horan, Darren O’Brien, Lorcan Byrne. Subs: David Scully, Luke Tansey, Cian O’Brien, Phil Martin, Thomas Quinn, Jake Thornton, Gerard Jordan. 

STELLA MARIS FC: Owen Smart; Anto McDonnell, Aaron Hughes, Dylan Kelly, Adam Reid, Stephen Dillon, Reece Fahy, Gareth Rock, Alter Camio, Jonathon Rock, Adam Costello. Subs: Alesc Lai, Peter Dunne, Jack Place, William Byrne. 

Referee: John Thornton.

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