Leonards land Under-13 title
St Leonards Under-13s claimed the Division 1A title in dramatic fashion at Dunmain on Wednesday in one of the closest fought-divisions in the Wexford Schoolboys League.
Any one of three teams could have won on the last game on the last day of the season. Two of the title contenders, Corach Ramblers and Blackwater, played each other, while St. Leonards played New Ross Celtic, all kicking off at the same time.
St. Leonards and Corach were level at the top of the table while Corach were two points behind both.
St. Leonards overcame a nervy start to go one goal up from a fantastic Shane Ryan strike after about ten minutes. New Ross Celtic got into their stride and had St. Leonards under pressure for periods during the first-half.
St. Leonards managed to get a grip on the game and pressure on the New Ross defence saw them give away a free kick within shooting distance of their goal. Dead ball specialist Evan Kiely stepped up and guided an inch-perfect free kick under the crossbar at the right-hand upright to give St. Leonards a two-goal cushion going in at half-time.
This cushion was soon removed early in the second-half when Ross Celtic midfield supremo Rory O'Connor delivered a well-taken free kick just under the St. Leonards crossbar. The game now swung in Ross Celtic's favour as they applied constant pressure on the St. Leonards midfield and defence.
Heroic defending by the back four of Shane O'Grady, George Holden, Liam Ryan and Ben Whitty kept Ross at bay but the star of the defence was goalkeeper Conor Twomey who pulled off some amazing diving and point-blank saves to continually frustrate Ross.
The workrate and energy of the St. Leonards midfield of Emmet Cullen, Dara Egan, Shane Power and the wizardry and pinpoint passing of Ciarán Honan took over in this area with some wonderful incisive passing to the two dangerous front men, Shane Ryan and Evan Kiely, who continually tormented the Ross defence with their speed, skill and movement.
One such incisive pass saw Evan Kiely break down the right-hand flank and cross in a pinpoint pass to the oncoming Shane Ryan who buried the ball in the Ross net to restore St. Leonards' two-goal advantage.
Ross never gave up and continued to pile the pressure on St. Leonards up until the final whistle.
St. Leonards claimed a fully-deserved victory but the title had still to be decided and, depending on the result from the Blackwater v. Corach game, the St. Leonards boys had to wait a nervous five minutes for that game to end.
Eventually the call came through and a draw was the final result there which meant St. Leonards were champions amid scenes of jubilation amongst players and supporters.
Anthony Redmond of the Wexford Schoolboys League presented the Division 1A cup to St. Leonards captain Ben Whitty.
The full St. Leonards squad for the season was: Conor Twomey, George Holden, Shane O'Grady, Ben Whitty, Liam Ryan, Emmet Cullen, Dara Egan, Shane Power, Ciarán Honan, Shane Ryan, Evan Kiely, Matthew McCillen, Shane Culleton, Eoin Power, Cormac Kiely, Daryl Power, Conor Power, Patrick Sinnott, Aaron Ryan, Brian Foley, Jamie Lyng and Jack Rossiter.