MILLSTREEET Celtic are the proud kingpins of the Cork AUL Division 2A League after sharing the spoils after a thrilling draw with main challengers Crescent Athletic in Millstreet on Sunday.
Both sides served up a spectacle to grace the occasion in a high octane and dramatic encounter. The outcome boiled down to the last game of the season, Millstreet securing a draw to lift the title while Crescent required a win to force a play-off.
Fittingly, the pair served up a stunning contest to maintain a ferocious intensity from start to finish. The visiting Kileens side spelled out their intentions early on when a long ball split the Millstreet defence for Dave O'Shea to finish superbly.
Celtic sparked to life, however, their response rapid and effective. The honest endeavour of Tadhg Collins on the wing saw him pulling the ball back for Chris Cleary to finish in style. Millstreet proceeded to control matters from here with key input from Danny O'Riordan, Barry Lawlor and Collins. And the home side were rewarded on the half hour when Collins took up possession to supply Barry Lawlor to curve a beauty into the corner.
A disallowed goal followed before Crescent hauled themselves back into contention. Eric Murphy headed home from close range to tie up matters 2-2 at the break. Indeed Crescent resumed with renewed urgency in a bid to wrestle control of the game. Both 'keepers came to their side's rescue with fine saves at either end.
With the play swinging from end to end, Millstreet were in the driving seat in the 70th minute when Collins won a penalty that team captain, Tim Kiely, duly converted. In fairness, Crescent were in no mood to relent, responding well on Kevin Gleeson netting an equaliser.
As the tension mounted so did the excitement in a gripping finale during the closing 15 minutes. Millstreet's Mike Murphy and Paul Dawson might have made the outcome safe yet the new champions were thankful to a vigilant defence on holding out from a number of late Crescent raids.
MILLSTREET CELTIC: P Ozaist, F Corcoran, E O'Keeffe, T Kiely, T O'Connor, C Cleary, M Murphy, D O'Riordan, B Lawlor, T Collins, M P Collins Subs: J Lehane, P Dawson, S Collins
CRESCENT ATHLETIC: M O'Sullivan, A Gane, L Murphy, M Cummins, D Constan, E Twomey, T Twomey, I O'Sullivan, I O'Connell, E Murphy, D O'Shea. Subs: K Buckley, C Horgan, K Gleeson
REFEREE: D O'Mahony