Agonising wait for Swords
PJ Murray at Balheary
IT's now a waiting game for Swords Celtic as they wonder whether their 0-0 draw at home to St James Gate on Sunday will be enough to clinch them the LSL Division 1B title.
A win for Gerry Gossan's side over Gate, coupled with the 11-1 win over Glenmore Dundrum last Wednesday which secured promotion, would have made them strong favourites to finish on top, but as it stands they will be hoping for Dublin University to fail to win their remaining two games, while Gate still have enough games in hand to see them take top spot.
Sunday's match, Swords' last of the season, was played in a depressing drizzle, but they started very positively against a solid Gate side and Eoin Jones had an early volley go wide as the hosts' intentions were evident from the start.
The Gate management made no secret of their plan. In goal for Swords was Under-17 Martin Kowalczyk, a fantastic keeper but a very small one at that, and Gate were keen to test him. On 12 minutes the keeper shanked a clearance which was fired back with some venom, but it sailed just over the crossbar.
The hosts dominated possession, but with Robbie Farrell and Barry Caulfield playing deep roles they were struggling to feed the strikers. The visitors should have opened the scoring on 20 minutes when full-back David Cox was caught out of position and a ball across the box found a Gate striker, but despite having time to turn and shoot he blazed a shot wide from six yards out.
The visitors continued to fire shots from distance, but none really tested the young keeper.
Then a mistake in the Gate defence was pounced on by Robbie Farrell who quickly unleashed Caulfield. He broke into the box and pulled a pass back to Eoin Jones who tried to fire a shot through a sea of bodies, but it was blocked.
Two minutes later Swords had a legitimate claim for a penalty turned down as Caulfield seemed to be taken down in the box, but play continued and the forward managed to retain possession and swing a shot in from a wide angle which was cleared off the line.
It remained scoreless at the break and Gavin Whelan was introduced for the second half and his first touch was a defence-splitting pass for Caulfield to race on to, but he dragged his shot wide. Jordan Nolan then went close with a shot from distance as Celtic were finding their range.
Another big moment came in the 70th minute when Caulfield was again fouled, the linesman raised his flag indicating he'd seen it and instantly the belief was that it was a penalty, but the referee placed the ball right on the edge of the area.
The rain, which had been ever present, got considerably heavier, but it didn't dampen Swords' desire for a goal. Daniel Smith was brought on mid-way through the half and when Mark Gibson's shot was saved he followed in to flash a shot at goal which drew a fantastic save as it was tipped onto the crossbar and behind.
Having thrown literally everything at the Gate goal, Swords should have won it when they fashioned one last chance in injury time. Mark Gibson picked out Caulfield and made the overlapping run to receive the ball in the box, but he tried to beat the keeper at the near post and the shot was saved.
Swords Celtic: Martin Kowalczyk, Bernard Smith, Niall Hudson, Keith Reilly, David Coz, Stephen Walshe, Eoin Jones (Gavin Whelan), Mark Gibson, Robbie Farrell (Daniel Smith), Jordan Nolan, Barry Caulfield.