Top two end level
Gusserane held ater late saints goal
The battle of the top two in Division 2 of the New Ross Standard Coiste na nÓg Under-14 football championship ended in stalemate at Gusserane on Thursday.
Gusserane 3-5 St. James' 4-2
Both sides were unbeaten coming into the contest but the hosts held a narrow lead at the summit after drawing their extra encounter played to date against fellow high-flyers Crossabeg-Ballymurn.
St. James' had a perfect record of four wins from four games, including an eked out victory in their previous outing against Starlights, but they were given all they could handle by a talented Gusserane outfit.
It was the quintessential game of two halves. In the opening 25 minutes the sides attacked each other at will and did the majority of the scoring. There were just two goals registered in the second period as a safety-first approach overtook the gung-ho offerings of earlier.
With just 16 seconds on the clock, Sam Wallace accepted Kaelan Foley's pass and accelerated through the heart of the hosts' defence before firing past Ben Whitty for the game's opening goal.
Gusserane almost replied immediately but Shane Dunne made a superb low save from Shane Ryan's shot.
They did kick the next two points with Emmet Cullen and Evan Kiely availing of the helping breeze to finish.
Josh Whyte-Keating scored a tidy point in the tenth minute but Gusserane kicked three consecutive scores to take the lead, with Kiely on target twice and Conor Twomey notching his club's fifth minor in the 13th minute to edge them ahead by 0-5 to 1-1.
Alfie Eite poked home from close range after a Kaelan Foley run and off-load, but the St. James' lead didn't last long.
Arguably the game's best goal came when Dara Egan and Matthew McCillen combined and the latter flashed an unstoppable shot to the top corner of Dunne's net.
The goal-rush continued when Sam Wallace drilled low and powerfully to the hosts' net in the 17th minute, but once again Gusserane responded when Shane O'Grady launched long to Twomey and he shot low past Dunne.
When Foley pointed a free just before the whistle, the sides were level at the interval (2-5 to 3-2).
Gusserane had the better of the third quarter but it was not reflected on the scoreboard as both teams failed to score.
The hosts broke the impasse when Dara Egan's long-range effort found the goal with ten minutes remaining, but St. James' nabbed a share of the spoils when Foley thumped home the equalising major, after build-up work by Peadar O'Connor and Rory Lynch, with five minutes left.
Gusserane: Ben Whitty; Adam Whelan, Liam Ryan, Shane Power; Brian Foley, Shane O'Grady, Patrick Sinnott; Dara Egan (1-0), Emmet Cullen (0-1); Conor Twomey (1-1), Evan Kiely (0-3, 1 free), Shane Ryan; Eoghan Stafford, Matthew McCillen (1-0), Aaron Ryan. Subs. - Eoin Power for E. Stafford (19), Cormac Kiely for A. Ryan (26), Fionn Mullally for O'Grady, inj. (37).
St. James': Shane Dunne; Ciarán McPhillips, Daniel Behan, James Nolan; Alfie Eite (1-0), Rory Lynch, Mark Whitty; Kealan Foley (1-1, 0-1 free) Josh Whyte-Keating (0-1); Ben McPhillips, Sam Wallace (2-0), Colm Fitzgerald; Peadar O'Connor, Darragh McPhillips, Joe McPhillips. Subs. - Callum Gamble for J. McPhillips (31), J. McPhillips for O'Connor (47).
Referee: Anthony Tobin (Geraldine O'Hanrahans).