The U16A's entered Tuesday's home crunch encounter with Ballybrack knowing nothing less than a win would do to have a chance of winning the title.
Ballybrack can themselves win the title by winning all their back matches. They too came to St Lawrences with a win-only mentality. The stakes were certainly high for both teams, everything seemingly set up for a 'cup final' type game.
This was a tough game, played out in good spirit but with no quarter given. Ballybrack took the game to PC in the opening fifteen minutes, getting down both our flanks, but bit by bit the home side gained an edge. Two clear cut chances, one to Graham Wolfe, the other to Frank Ryan, ruefully were missed. Still, PC were now playing the better football, dominating midfield & reducing Ballybrack to long range shooting. The early loss of team captain Craig Lowrie to injury was admirably compensated by the introduction of Thomas Fennelly. Tom made an immediate impact. The game continued to 'ebb & flow' through the opening 40 minutes, with little to choose between the sides.
Half time left both sides scoreless but PC with a psychological edge by virtue of finishing the stronger.
The second half was equally intense with little to choose between the sides. Entering the last 20 mins PC again began to threaten, increasing the frequency with which chances were created. With thirteen minutes remaining on the clock the breakthrough came. A super through ball from Thomas Fennelly in midfield found Richard Bolger on the left flank. Richard's pace got him to the endline & when his perfectly executed cross entered the box, three PC players were ready to pounce. Rory O Driscoll (man-of-the-match, terrific performance) was executioner. Elation on the sideline. Just reward for perseverance & playing the type of football that made the game so attractive to watch.
Ballybrack now raised the tempo & PC could not get on the ball to take the pace out of the game. Even still, Ballybrack didn't create any clear cut chances. Our defence matched our midfield. With three minutes remaining Ballybrack were awarded a free 25m from goal. A poorly taken free kick rammed into the wall, took a wicked deflection over the defence & landed kindly for the Ballybrack No 7. The rest is history, as they say. Too little time to chase a winner, PC were left holding their heads in their hands. A match we didn't look like NOT winning once we scored. A match we deserved to win, but didn't. The cost may prove significant. Great team performance from all 15 who played. Outstanding performances from Rory O Driscoll, Thomas Fennelly, James Cotter & Chris Riordan.
We have one league match remaining (away v Templeogue). We may know our fate in advance, depending on other results. Or, it may be a lifeline to promotion. Bit of nail-biting to go yet.