Walsh save earns draw
Cork City 1 Wexford FC 1
Michael Walsh dived low to his right to save a last-gasp Cian Murphy penalty and give his Wexford side a hard-earned point in the SSE Airtricity Under-17 League Southern Elite section at Bishopstown Stadium.
It provided the perfect exclamation mark on a sensational individual performance from the visiting 'keeper, after a string of excellent earlier saves had kept hosts City at bay for long periods of the game.
Brandon Deady had put the Ferrycarrig Park club ahead in the 67th minute with a cool low finish. Wexford seemed to be on course for the points until Jamie O'Sullivan headed home from close range two minutes into added-time.
Things looked to be going from bad to worse for Derek O'Brien's side when a mis-timed sliding challenge in the box, mere seconds after the tip-off, saw Murphy go down and referee Timmy Kelleher point to the spot.
Given his performance all game, it was no surprise at all to see Walsh guess right, getting a firm hand to the ball to push it away from goal. With Cork attacking the rebound, Kelleher blew his full-time whistle to leave the sides deadlocked.
Earlier, the hosts had completely dominated the opening half. Wexford lived off scraps, with their set-pieces not really troubling the hosts either. At the other end it was a procession of clearcut chances and narrow escapes.
Walsh warmed up with a fairly routine save from Murphy's left-foot strike in the twelfth minute but was asked a serious question just before the end of the opening quarter when the lively Cian Bargary got clear and snapped a venomous shot that the visiting 'keeper saved.
Bargary got away again moments later but skied his effort over the crossbar. Walsh then saved low from Murphy on the right of goal and again in the 31st minute when City broke quickly from a Wexford corner.
The big call of the half came with eight minutes remaining. A Cork corner ricocheted around in the box and fell for Murphy whose shot was partially saved by Walsh, but it flew behind him where Jack O'Sullivan nodded to the net.
The linesman was quick to raise his flag, recognising that the goalkeeper was ahead of the play and that there was just one man between O'Sullivan and goal when the initial shot was taken.
While Cork still had the better of it after the break, Wexford certainly improved without looking likely to open the scoring. Still, the clearcut chances of the first-half were long gone and Walsh had little to do in the third quarter.
Then Wexford struck in the 67th minute. It was all about Brandon Deady, as he intercepted the ball as Cork tried to build from the back, sprinted clear on the left of goal and calmly slotted under the onrushing Alan Kelleher to the hosts' net.
The goal seemed to kick the Leesiders into life again and they put Wexford under serious pressure. Their more offensive approach did leave gaps at the other end and several times the visitors came close to exploiting them.
Walsh was quick off his line to deny Brian Lynch breaking through the centre in the 74th minute. Wexford were in trouble in the 82nd minute when Murphy got free in the six-yard box but Bargary failed to find the telling ball.
At the other end Cian Foley flashed over the crossbar from just outside the area, Kyle Kennedy forced Kelleher to save from distance, and Paddy Barron's header was cleared off the goal-line by Dale Holland.
Just when it looked like Wexford would hold on and take the points, two minutes into added-time, Holland's free-kick pinballed in the six-yard box and Jamie O'Sullivan was on hand to nod home the equaliser.
Another goal would have proved cruel on Wexford, who battled all the way to the last kick of the game and deserved the point they eventually got after Walsh sprang low to his right to keep Murphy's spot-kick out.
Wexford: Michael Walsh; Jack Gallagher, Nathan O'Connor, Reece Murphy, Jason Daly; Paddy Barron, Caellum Travers-Devlin; Kyle Kennedy, Oscar Smith, Brandon Deady; Liam Berry (capt.). Subs. - Cian Foley for Travers-Devlin, inj. (39), Ciarán Paige for Berry (46), also Kian Kerr, Conor Signorelli, Adham Masood, Colum Feeney.
Cork City: Alan Kelleher; Shane O'Riordan, Jamie O'Sullivan, Jack O'Sullivan, Colin O'Mahoney; Brian Lynch; Conor Bowdren, Dale Holland, Rory Doyle, Cian Bargary; Cian Murphy. Subs. - Douwe van Sinderen for Bowdren (70), Daniel Djomo for O'Riordan (88), David McCullogh for Bargary (88), also Liam Milner, Dean Leahy, Tomás Collins.
Referee: Timmy Kelleher.