Horeswood leave it late
Horeswood 1-14 St. Joseph's 2-9
Horeswood received another timely reminder that the path back to the top flight is fraught with difficulties as they came from behind to eventually shake off an unfancied St. Joseph's side in this Amber Springs/Ashdown Park Hotels Intermediate football championship Group A game in Taghmon on Saturday.
It required the last three points from the 59th minute onwards to clinch victory for the side relegated from Senior ranks last year, maintaining their three-game unbeaten record in the process.
Horeswood have won those matches by a combined tally of just eight points, and in the long run that tough start to the campaign should stand to them when the knockout phase comes around.
Everything beforehand pointed to a more comfortable win for the New Ross District side. After all, St. Joseph's had shipped two hammerings in April, and their large North End contingent were celebrating their marvellous FAI Junior Cup success on the previous night.
The Bishopswater side surprised a lot of onlookers though with the quality of their performance, and only some unforced errors near the end stood between them and at least a share of the spoils.
It had started along expected lines for Horeswood when sweeper David Larkin began a third-minute move that ended with captain P.J. Banville soloing through and firing left-footed to the net.
Three Jason Murphy points, including one fine effort from play, settled St. Joseph's though, before Horeswood went clear by 1-4 to 0-3 after Banville (free), the deadly-accurate Seán Nolan, and Jamie Myler picked off points.
They let their rivals off the hook in that spell too, with David Larkin firing left and wide in front of an open goal after the opposition fluffed a short kick-out.
And St. Joseph's received a huge boost in the 18th minute when the strength and ball-winning ability of Paul Murphy led to his well-taken goal to narrow the gap to the minimum (1-4 to 1-3).
Two pointed Jason Murphy frees put them ahead, before an audacious strike saw Horeswood concede a cheap second major in the 26th minute.
Their goal was lined for a close-in free, and no doubt they were expecting Jason to tap the ball over again, but his brother Paul arrived at pace and drilled a low piledriver into the net via a defender (2-5 to 1-4).
The gap was down to 2-6 to 1-6 by half-time, after points from Seán Nolan and P.J. Banville (free) on either side of a Derek Bergin score for the town team.
Darren Shannon had fired a goal chance wide for Horeswood, while the sides were correctly reduced to 14 men apiece after Jamie Myler and Gary Byrne, both on yellow cards already, received second bookings for their part in an off-the-ball incident.
The New Ross District side had the wind on the re-start, but every score was hard-earned as they eventually hit the front (1-10 to 2-6) by the 44th minute.
Darren Shannon, Seán Nolan (two) and P.J. Banville (free) did the damage, while a super double save by Jamie McMahon kept out goalbound shots by Eamonn O'Sullivan and Nolan in the 40th minute.
Shannon and Andy Moore - who came close when he fisted towards goal early in the second-half - went on to swap points before a Paul Murphy piledriver from an Adam Beary pass cannoned off the crossbar in the 49th minute.
That near miss emboldened St. Joseph's, and they took an unlikely 2-9 to 1-11 lead by the 54th minute after Jason Murphy knocked over a free and Paul Murphy then chipped one from play off the ground and over the bar.
Wayne Carty had a goal attempt smothered before P.J. Banville levelled for Horeswood from a Seán Nolan pass.
Nolan restored their lead with 45 seconds left in normal time, and the insurance point didn't arrive from Banville until the seven added minutes had almost elapsed.
Horeswood: Conor Swaine; Kevin Parker, David O'Shea, Gavin Murphy; Eddie Shiely, Barry Hearn, Seán Stafford; Colin Nolan, P.J. Banville (capt., 1-5, 0-3 frees); David Larkin, Darren Shannon (0-3), Seán Nolan (0-5); Jamie Myler (0-1), Eamonn O'Sullivan, Eric Banville. Sub. - Michael O'Hanlon for E. Banville (47).
St. Joseph's: Jamie McMahon; Eddie Byrne, Eddie Lawlor, Seamus King; Paddy Harnett, Lee Wadding-Byrne, Philly Leniston; Derek Bergin (0-1), Wayne Carty; Decky Downes, Paul Murphy (capt., 2-1, 1-0 free), Gary Byrne; Adam Beary, Andy Moore (0-1), Jason Murphy (0-6, 5 frees). Subs. - Stephen Kearney for Bergin, inj. (50), Tommy Sheridan for J. Murphy, inj. (53), Josh Guerrine for Wadding-Byrne, temp. (60+3), Guerrine for Moore, black card (60+7).
Referee: Seán Whelan (St. Martin's).