Willow Park suffered a setback in their pursuit of the Leinster Senior league Division 1B title when they dropped two points at DPD Park last Saturday evening. Mount Merrion were the visitors and defended well to record their eighth draw of the season. Willow were twice denied by the woodwork as Benny Magennis and Aaron O’Neill crashed shots off the crossbar and post respectively.
Both teams struggled to come to terms with the difficult weather conditions. Kieran McNally had the first chance but the Merrion goalkeeper saved his shot. Willow keeper Dylan McGoey was then called into action to save a Graham Doran effort at his near post. There was little further serious action in the opening half. The last home chance on the stroke of half time saw the keeper gather a Conor McCormack cross before O’Neill could pounce on the inviting ball.
Claudio Silva was brought on for the second half as manager Declan Holohan looked to add some spark to the home attack. The second half was livelier with both teams having some chances to break the deadlock. Kevin Murray had an early opportunity with Ryan Gaffey trying opportunistically from long range.
Magennis was out of luck from the resulting corner as his shot crashed off the underside of the bar. Merrion also had a great chance to hit the front but Joseph Hall was denied by McGoey after an hour. Willow pressed hard in the closing stages to force a winner.
Victory would have pushed Willow to within a point of St. John Bosco but it was a luckless night for the hosts. Magennis fired a shot off the keeper and then set up Gaffey whose close range strike hit the side netting.
The Dublin team had a couple of chances to steal the points on the counter attack. There was one more opportunity for Willow late in the game to emerge victorious. Magennis and O’Neill were again involved but only the width of the post prevented the latter from being the hero. Having survived this let off, the visitors could then have shocked Willow to return home with full points. The last action of the game saw substitute Jake Daly send a fine strike just inches wide of the upright.
There was a major shock for the other senior Willow team as their Combined Counties outfit was sensationally dumped out of the Counties Cup at the first hurdle. A week after Padraig Dully’s men advanced to the last 32 of the FAI Junior Cup, Willow came crashing down to earth against the lower division team. An understrength away team were quickly under pressure against a young eager Ballymahon outfit. The hosts raced into a two goal lead and Willow never recovered from their sluggish start. Brian Fogarty gave the Senior Division title chasers some hope with a goal early in the second half. The revival was short-lived however as Ballymahon quickly restored their two goal lead following a free kick on an afternoon best forgotten by Willow.