Not since Barcelona overturned a 4-0 deficit to PSG has there been a comeback like it! Hat-trick hero Colin Scanlon won the league title for Shannon Town when he stunned the home crowd packed into McDonough Memorial Park on a pleasant April evening.
Maloney Garden Machinery Premier Division
Shannon Town 3
Newmarket Celtic 2
Once again Donal Magee had worked his magic. Having enjoyed success with clubs in Clare and Limerick over the years this was a sweet victory for a great guy and highly qualified coach who managed Shannon Town to the Premier League title, 17 years since it was last won by a Shannon club. Remarkably Magee led his charges to victory in just their second year competing in the Clare League after many years of toiling away with little reward in the L&DSL.
Newmarket Celtic were strong favourites prior to the game, league champions since 2015 they needed only a draw to make it three in a row and were two points clear of their opponents at the top of the table. Only a win would be good enough for Shannon Town, and what a win it proved to be!
Both clubs were meeting in Newmarket for a winner-takes-all contest to decide the outcome of this year’s Maloney Garden Machinery Premier Division. Unbeaten at home in this season’s campaign, Newmarket got off to a confident start testing Darren Whelan in the Shannon Town goal on a number of occasions. Celtic’s Irish internationals, Eoin Hayes and Stephen Kelly, made things difficult for the visitors. Kelly almost put his side in front with a powerful header from a corner only for Whelan’s acrobatic abilities.
The sides were level at half-time but soon after the break Eoin Hayes netted from David McCarthy’s cross. Celtic charged ahead into what looked like an unassailable lead when Paddy Purcell headed Darren Cullinan’s free kick to the net putting the home side 2-0 in front.
At this point a number of Shannon Town supporters began to drift away. Thanks to modern texting technology with WhatsApp and SnapChat, most soon had good reason to return. What happened next was remarkable. With 25 minutes left to play Town were thrown a life-line when Derek Byrne was upended inside the box and Colin Scanlon stepped up to send goalkeeper Rob Shier the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Throwing caution to the wind, Shannon Town threw everything at Newmarket to equalise four minutes later, once again it was that man Scanlon. But the former Fairview man saved the best for last. With 12 minutes remaining Scanlon got on the end of Evan Barry’s cross to complete his hat-trick by heading home the winner.
Shannon Town supporters were delighted but their joy was tempered by Newmarket’s efforts to get back on level terms. Over the last 10 minutes Celtic pummelled the Shannon Town defence. David McCarthy came close with a header and referee Pa Gleeson waved away two penalty appeal. When the long whistle eventually was blown, Shannon Town celebrated their first win over their near neighbours, which was secondary to finishing as title holders. Emotions were running high as Shannon Town players, management and supporters danced with joy when their captain Darren Griffin took possession of the Premier division trophy.