REIGNING Premier A Champions The Park knew going into this game at Christy Leahy Park on Sunday that nothing short of a win would suffice if they were to stay on course to make it to the Premier A final.
After this game they were left wondering why it took them so long to take command of the game as they missed so many great scoring opportunities and had to rely on late goals to secure victory. With a stiff wind behind them they could have been out of sight by half time but despite creating numerous chances they just could not find the net. Credit must also go to Listowel Celtic who fought bravely and never gave up until the final whistle sounded.
The game opened brightly with both sides showing a great degree of eagerness and playing with great fire and spirit. The Park showed most of the early creativity with Mark O'Sullivan very influencial in the middle of the park and he played in Fiachra Dunne with only the keeper to beat. However, Celtic keeper Brendan Griffin came out and was very brave making a great block to deny a certain goal.
Con Barrett was not far away when he rose high for a Fergal Maunsell corner kick but directed his header just the wrong side of the post.
Then Listowel Celtic who were growing in confidence got a great passage of football together with Martin Loughnane, Ricky Halpin and Kevin Bambury carving out an opening for Joe Coulson and just as he was about to pull the trigger David Magee put in a superb tackle to deny a certain goal.
Just past the half hour mark The Park had a free kick 10 yards outside the box and Celtic keeper Brendan Griffrin did very well to turn David Rogers shot around the post for a corner kick. The Park continued to turn the screw and when Mark O'Sullivan played in Mike Conway with only the Celtic keeper to beat it looked liked they were going to go ahead. However, Conway rolled the ball past the keeper but wide of the target.
On the stroke of half time the home side squandered another great chance with David Rogers unable to find the net with only the keeper to beat. The Park could have been out of sight at half-time and an uphill battle looked ahead in the second half as they would have to face the wind. It looked as if it was not going to be their day when Fergal Maunsell missed a good early chance and minutes later was denied by the butt of the post after being set up by Mike Conway.
They finally got the breakthough they deserved in the 51st minute with a fantastic over the top ball by David Rogers falling perfectively for Fergal Maunsell in full flight and on this occasion he picked his spot and fired low into the bottom corner of the net. Now it looked as if The Park were on their way to victory but they were rocked on their heels 10 minutes later when they let down their guard at the back and Kevin Dillon took full advantage in the space he was allowed and drilled an exquisite daisy cutter from 25 yards, which gave Park keeper Jamie Kelly no chance.
Now the game was in the melting pot and The Park began to bring on subs to try and pull the game out of the fire. It looked as if Fiachra Dunne was about to score after he was played in by Fergal Maunsell but his shot was taken off the line by Seamus Keane.
The Park should have gone ahead in the 75th minute when Mark O'Sullivan found Mike Conway with a great ball, but with the goals at his mercy from 10 yards all he could find was the side netting.
Three minutes later he was not to be denied when he finished off another great cross from Mark O'Sullivan.
They made sure of the three points in the closing minutes when sub Aaron Eager Moriarty done the groundwork to carve out an opening for David Doyle and he scored from close range.
Now they have five games left to play and they will need to win all of them to stay in the title race. The crunch game will be against Castleisland as they are also harbouring prospects of making the decider.
This game is down for decision in Castleisland this Friday evening at 6 30pm and nothing short of a win will do for either sides.
The Park: Jamie Kelly, Fiachra Dunne, Ryan Downey, Con Barrett, David Magee, Adrian Quirke, Fergal Maunsell, Mark O'Sullivan, Greg Healy, Mike Conway, David Rogers. Subs: David Doyle for Greg Healy, Aaron Eager Moriarty for Adrian Quirke, David Courtney for David Rogers
Listowel Celtic: Brendan Griffin, Conor O'Neill , Seamus Keane, Pa Burns, Ricki Halpin, Kevin Mc Carthy, Kevin Bambury, Kevin Dillon, Martin Loughnane, Ian Murphy and Joe Poulson. Subs: Mike Woods for Ricky Halpin
Referee: Tom Kerrisk