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THREE A - A CRUNCH TIE
Inter City Celtic 0 Buttevant 1
A point would have given Inter City Celtic the championship in Murphy’s Stout AUL 3A and that thought must have weighed heavily on their minds as they lined up against visitors Buttevant in their final game in Murphy’s Stout 3A.
Inter started nervously and paid the penalty towards the end of the first half when Buttevant, who had the clear objective of winning to force a play-off, took the lead. The home side at Popham’s Road were better after the break but failed to turn possession into clear-cut chances and must now meet their double conquerors in a title play-off.
That 38th minute goal was a beauty, cracked in by Brian Kelleher after big centre-forward Denis Barrett had headed on a free by ace defender Stephen Relihan.
Inter City dominated the second half but Buttevant, who won their first meeting 3-0, defended well and long throw specialist Brendan Daly emerged as man of the match. He turned up everywhere in defence, sometimes ahead of the back four, sometimes in their midst, sometimes behind them. He even found time to break forward and set up a golden chance to clinch it.
City should perhaps have scored nine minutes after the interval. Then, from one of many second half corners, full back Tony Lenihan got a free near post header but his effort flashed just wide.
The quality of service to the Inter forwards wasn’t the best and deteriorated as the game entered its final stages. It was then that Buttevant had their opportunities to kill it off. One of the best came in the 82nd minute. Then a clearance by keeper James Ellard fell to the unmarked Kelleher but his lob over the exposed keeper was also over the bar.
Three minutes later, Buttevant striker Seamus Stack muscled his way through the middle but was denied by a last ditch stop by keeper Paul McCarthy.
The misses could have been costly. In the final minute of normal time, Inter’s Aidan O’Brien let fly but man of the match Brendan Daly was on hand to deflect the goalbound shot out for a corner. John McCarthy got a free header as the flag kick came in but put it over.
It was the final chance for Inter.