Park claim Giles Cup thriller

by Stephen Findlater
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ALEX O’Sullivan’s fortuitous last gasp winner saw Park Celtic claim the lead for the third and final time at Tallaght Stadium to complete a stellar Sunday’s work for the Cabinteely club.

It broke the hearts of a Knockmitten United who played their part in a classic John Giles Cup final encounter with Michael Bartleby’s equaliser a goal worthy of gracing any stage.

But they were not to deny a Park side inspired by the superb Oskar Puszcz who scored a similarly spectacular free-kick along with a wealth of vital tackles at the back.

Indeed, they thundered out of the blocks with Mark Shalloe only denied by the superb Andy Roach who raced off his line to deny a first minute opener.

They went ahead in the ninth minute from the penalty spot when David Walsh’s tidy footwork drew a trip and Puszcz confidently whipped home from the spot.

Knockmitten fought back with Bartleby tireless up front and Ryan O’Leary down the right.

They were level in the 18th minute when Dean Coleman’s devilish corner rebounded in off Puszcz as he attempted to clear.

He almost atoned immediately with a flick-on that skipped past the post before Bartleby stung Thomas Jackson’s palms. The front-man was also sent sprawling after being set through one-on-one with the Park goalkeeper.

Closing out a thrill-a-minute first half, O’Sullivan’s header was brilliantly saved by Roach before Sean Roe completed the job.

The second half was more tight-knit with Knockmitten starting slightly the stronger with Coleman’s deliveries again proving dangerous.

But they fell behind on the hour. Puszcz scored with a stunning free-kick 25m out on the left of goal, swinging the ball off the inside of the post and out of reach of the goalkeeper’s desperate dive.

Tom Sally thought he had made it 3-1 moments later only for the ball to bounce back off the base of the post. That came five minutes before Bartleby’s wonder strike, a volley from all of 30m after he had collected Andy Blair’s long ball and wriggled free of his marker.

He surprised even himself but they could not build on it and were stung in bizarre fashion. There looked little danger as the ball was rolled back to Roach but O’Sullivan raced after the back-pass, applying a wealth of pressure.

The goalkeeper’s hurried kick crashed into the forward as the ball bounced favourably and soon nestled in the net for a bizarre winner.

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