Sub Mullally leaves his mark with vital winner
ON DAYS like this it always takes something special to separate the sides. In this battle of the top and bottom reaches of Division 2A, it took a clinical close-range finish from substitute Steve Mullally to give leaders Rosslare Strand all three points over a battling Killenagh side in their clash at Rosslare on Sunday morning last.
Despite the perseverance of the respective sides, this game for so long looked destined to end in a draw as neither seemed capable of breaking the deadlock. But Mullally was only minutes on the pitch when he swivelled in the area to drive low to the net for the winning goal nine minutes from the end.
The goal did bring more pace to the game in the closing stages plus five additional minutes as Killenagh threw caution to the wind and set about retrieving the situation. And they came very close to salvaging what would have been a dramatic draw when Colm Cosgrave's cracking 30-metre shot five minutes into additional time crashed back off the upright with home 'keeper Des Doyle well beaten.
Killenagh were searching for those elusive points from a very early stage as they harried and forced the home side into some early mistakes. Their play didn't suggest they are down in the relegation zone as Colm Cosgrave and Cathal Kavanagh were particularly prominent in midfield.
With the better of the play they were unable to fashion a lead goal, leaving the home side to strike on the counter-attack when they took a 20th-minute lead. Midfielder Joe McDonald pushed forward to pick up a crossfield ball on the right edge of the area, and rounded his opponent before cutting inside to sidefoot the ball low past 'keeper Richard Farrell, giving Strand a 1-0 lead somewhat against the run of play.
Both sides were having their difficulties in front of goal, but Killenagh manufactured an equaliser ten minutes before the break. Joe McDonald played a low free kick in to Martin Flynn who broke from the wall, but he was brought down as he was about to shoot, leading to a penalty that Stephen Carter calmly dispatched high into the roof of the net which left it 1-1 at the break.
Both sides tried to exert control on the resumption but their lack of creativity up front saw few clearcut chances. Such was the deterioration of the game that one felt from early in the second period that it would end in a drab draw.
Then came Mullally's piece of magic. Former Wexford Youths player, Tiarnan Rossiter, played a long ball through the centre, picking out Danny O'Reilly whose neat lay-off set up Mullally. He still had much to do but somehow created the space to rifle a low shot to the bottom right-hand corner of the net, leaving it 2-1.
The goal distracted attention from the dreary fare up to this as, in a dramatic finish, Killenagh played some of their best attacking football and were considerably unlucky not to have taken a point home, with only the thickness of the woodwork denying them in the final attack.