Ferns edge closer
Murphy volley worth its weight in gold
Kieran Murphy volleyed home a critical equaliser with ten minutes remaining to put hosts Ferns in pole position in Under-16 Division 1 of the Wexford and District Schoolboys Soccer League on Saturday.
Ferns United 2 North End United 2
North End looked to be on their way to an invaluable three points in the title race after goals from Niall Connolly and Cian Kinlough left them 2-1 up midway through the second-half.
However, there was a twist to come in the shape of Murphy's stunning leveller.
Ferns came into the game with eight wins on the bounce, knowing that victory would make them uncatchable at the top of the table. North End, who lost just the return fixture and have won the rest of their games, knew they would be right back in contention with three points.
With so much on the line, it wasn't a huge surprise that the first 20 minutes were fairly meek. The hosts saw a couple of half chances come and go, with Ciarán Kavanagh going as close as anyone with a header from Tom Browne's corner.
North End settled into their task and looked dangerous when they got good ball into wide positions. In one such instance, roving full-back Daniel Halligan got away on the left and crossed for Ciarán Carthy to side-foot narrowly wide.
The visitors were frustrated when looking in the referee's direction in the 26th minute. Seán Murphy beat Ferns 'keeper Aaron Hall to the ball, got behind him and looked to be dragged down by a defender.
However, they did get their penalty just before the interval when Niall Connolly's devilish free-kick dipped in under the crossbar and was handled on the line. Connolly himself stepped up to convert from the spot.
Harry Kehoe cleared Noel Rowsome's effort off the line early in the second-half, but little was happening until Murphy turned Browne's low cross on to the post in the 55th minute. The ball spun behind Seán Maher, who turned and scooped it up.
Referee Micheál Franklin gave the goal but from his position, 35 yards out and central, he really could only have been guessing on whether or not it actually crossed the line.
North End didn't let the disappointment fester. Seconds later they broke up the other end where Cian Kinlough latched on to a weak clearance and curled a precise finish to the empty net to make it 2-1.
Both sides had chances to get the all-important fourth goal and Ferns grabbed it with ten minutes left. Adrian Breen fired a over a cross from the left wing and Murphy was there at the back post to volley high to Maher's net.
North End bossed the final ten minutes but a clearcut chance didn't materialise.
Ferns now need to avoid defeat in their final league game, away to Forth Celtic, to take the Division 1 title.
Ferns: Aaron Hall; Joseph McHale, Shane Breen, Aaron Earle, Josh Mythen-Hogan; Paudie Casey, Ciarán Kavanagh; Tom Browne, Noel Rowsome, Adrian Breen; Kieran Murphy. Subs. (rolling) - Ross Mulcahy, Hassib Yasin, Ciarán Nolan, Dillon O'Sullivan, Kieran Kendrick.
North End: Seán Maher; Harry Kehoe, Kyle Scallan, Daragh Howell, Daniel Halligan; Adam Mullins, Liam Godkin, Niall Connolly; Cian Kinlough, Ciarán Carthy, Seán Murphy. Subs. - Thomas Donovan, Leon Sinnott, Josh Murphy.
Referee: Micheál Franklin.