Celtic clinch title
New Ross Celtic 3 Rathnure United 0
They didn't have it all their own way, but eventually New Ross Celtic ground down hosts Rathnure to claim the Wexford and District Schoolboys Soccer Under-16 Division 3 title on Wednesday.
Going into the game several scenarios were possible. However, the one that seemed the most likely was that Celtic would get the three points they needed and make results elsewhere insignificant.
In the end that's exactly how it worked out but Rathnure made them battle for it every inch of the way.
There was plenty of interest because of what was at stake, but also the contrast in styles really made for a superb game of football.
The hosts, missing the talismanic A.J. Redmond through injury, looked to go long quickly and turn New Ross around. Celtic, on the other hand, were content with trying to pick their opponents apart by building from deep.
Early on it looked like the visitors might prevail with a little to spare. With just four minutes on the clock, Kyle Wall's low cross picked out Keane Walsh who made a yard of space, got the shot away and beat Kyle Martin between the Rathnure posts, but last man Cormac McGrath stopped a certain goal with his feet.
Then, Donal Porter's header from Wall's cross forced Martin to tip onto the crossbar in the eleventh minute. However, Rathnure slowly settled and began breaking up their opponents' attacks before they ended in dangerous shooting situations.
The Blackstairs boys went no closer than the excellent Charlie Tector's glancing header that flew wide from Owen Lennon's corner. Just before the break, at the other end, Jake O'Gorman forced Martin into another smart save.
New Ross continued to probe at the start of the second-half but when the goal arrived, nine minutes after the re-start, it was still a little out of the blue. O'Gorman played the provider role for Wall and, although the striker still had plenty to do with his half-volley from the edge of the box, it fizzed past the onrushing Martin to the net.
There was always going to be a moment for Celtic to survive, and it came with 19 minutes left when Tector's ball into the box caused panic.
After a brief game of pinball on the edge of the six-yard box, the champions cleared their lines and the chance was gone.
The game was put to bed in the 69th minute when Wall's flick into the box struck a Rathnure hand and Keane Walsh casually converted the spot-kick low to the 'keeper's left.
With the game in added time, Michael Bradley completed the victory, coolly side-footing home from Mike Chapman's through ball to seal the title in style.
New Ross Celtic: Anto O'Connor (capt.); Tony Murphy, John Graves, Martin Roche, Adam Fanthom; Jake O'Gorman, Donal Porter, Rory O'Connor, Adam Sinnott; Keane Walsh, Kyle Wall. Subs. - Michael Bradley for Fanthom (70), Michael Chapman for O'Gorman (74), Conor Cummins for Murphy (76), Evan Culleton for Wall (78).
Rathnure United: Kyle Martin; Ciarán Doyle-Maher, Brian O'Neill, Liam Doucey, Cormac McGrath; Brendan Foley, Charlie Tector, Matt Butler, Owen Lennon; Adam Carty (capt.), Michael Somers. Subs. - Leo Durnan for Somers (57), Jamie Lennon for Butler (64), Eoin Farrell for Foley (75), also A.J. Redmond.
Referee: Brendan Holohan.