Joey's so close
Larkin rescues vital point
Cillian Larkin's last-gasp free-kick edged St. Joseph's to within touching distance of the Wexford and District Schoolboys League Under-13 Division 2 title in Ballymurn recently.
Ballymurn Celtic 1 - St Joseph's 1
His side was heading for defeat and back into a fight with hosts Celtic for the title when the inspirational midfielder curled a left wing dead ball high into the top right corner of Aaron Cummins' net to send his side into delirious celebrations.
That exuberance looked a long way off with Ballymurn bossing the game in the first 55 minutes. However, a tactical switch to put three at the back and get more men forward into the box paid dividends for Joseph's as they snatched a late, late draw.
It didn't start as brightly for the Kilmuckridge boys as Celtic began with the breeze, up the hill, in the ascendancy. Chonaill Devlin tested Cian O'Connor with an early volley before the 'keeper was involved again, holding well from Joe Kelly.
Paddy Redmond shot over and screwed an effort wide as the opening quarter wound to a conclusion. The same man then crossed for Brody Murphy, with his glancing header clanking the foot of the post and Devlin's poked rebound was saved by O'Connor.
Then came a minute of real drama. Aaron Cummins somehow kept Dave Meleady's corner out of the net at one end. Then Celtic countered, and won a corner that Redmond crossed for Devlin to head in off the underside of the crossbar.
St. Joseph's went close with a Larkin free that sailed over the goal late in the half but the home side deserved their interval advantage. Nothing much changed in the early stages of the second-half, as Ballymurn defended well with the trio of Adam O'Brien, Josh Waldron and Shane Cullen exceptional.
There were no real chances until the visitors nearly grabbed a goal out of nothing. Larkin put a high up-and-under into the box which bounced up off the hard ground, over Cummins and onto the crossbar.
The Joey's might have felt it wasn't to be their day until Larkin's free moments later secured a point.
St. Joseph's now need a draw from either of their last two games, at home to Bree or Wexford Celtic, to guarantee at least a play-off while a win in either fixture will ensure back-to-back titles for this team after they picked up the Under-12 Division 2A crown last season.
Star man - Brody Murphy (Ballymurn Celtic): His driving runs and pinpoint passes helped his side dominate much of the tie, a real danger throughout.
Ballymurn Celtic: Aaron Cummins; Adam O'Brien, Josh Waldron (capt.), Shane Cullen; Kyle O'Toole, Paddy Redmond, Joe Kelly, Brody Murphy, Seán Walsh; Alan White, Chonaill Devlin. Subs. - Ejiro Akpubi for White (22), Liam Finan for Akpubi (31), Mark White for O'Toole (31), Michael O'Connor for Finan (48), Cian Walsh for Devlin (58).
St. Joseph's: Cian O'Connor; Conor Keane, Dave Meleady (capt.), Mick Butler, Eoin McNulty; James Reilly, Lorcan Nimmo, Cillian Larkin, Oisín Tyrell; Chris Lawless, Eoin O'Meara. Subs. - Dylan McEvoy for Tynan (41), also Joe Farrell, Kyle Burke, David Hearne.
Referee: Kevin Dunne.