Castleknock Celtic secured promotion from the NDSL Under-13C league with a dramatic penalty shoot out at the end of their play-off match against Laytown United.
Laytown had proved difficult opponents in previous meetings, and both teams were evenly matched on 46 league points apiece and an equal goal difference of 24.
From the start, Celtic had the majority of the possession and missed a few early chances to score.
But for the sterling work of Laytown’s goalkeeper, Celtic would have expected to be in front early on.
However, following a long ball clearance from goalkeeper Aidan Kearney that was headed on by Vlad Skyrpa, Liam Tobin rounded a number of Laytown’s defenders to shoot past their keeper and Celtic took a 1-0 lead.
Just before half-time, Laytown sent a ball from the left hand corner across Castleknock’s goal to the unmarked Laytown striker, Ben Wherity, who slotted home an equaliser.
The second half was a spirited battle between the two teams. However, Laytown’s strength on the break continued to be a threat. Their pressure paid off when they were awarded a penalty which saw Celtic reduced to 10 men before Laytown’s Ethan Donnelly scored past the diving effort of Aidan Kearney in the Celtic goal.
Celtic were staring down the barrel of ending the season out of the honours, only weeks after they had led the league table and looked a good bet to take the title.
They dug deep, however, and following sterling defence, it was Tobin again who sprung to Celtic’s rescue. He pounced on a shot from the Sean Hogan which Laytown keeper could only parry into the path of Tobin who fired home from 10 yards to make the sides all square once more.
Celtic then held out until the final whistle, following 20 minutes of extra time to take the game to penalties.
In a tense shoot-out, Celtic emerged victorious, with keeper Kearney scoring his team’s first penalty, and then saving Laytown’s final penalty, which earned Celtic promotion to the U-13B league next season. It was a fitting end to a season which saw this team dig deep often and they now look forward to the challenges following promotion.
Castleknock Celtic: Aidan Kearney (captain), Callan D’Arcy, Luke Toland, Simon Ayers, Gary Brennan, Hugh Caffrey, Sean Hogan, Vlad Skyrpa, Rhys Hogan, Sean McCormack, Liam Tobin, Cathal Joyce.