Monksland Utd 2
Mullingar Athletic 2
Mullingar Athletic are still looking for their first win of the new league campaign as they twice surrendered the lead to Monksland United in Lecarrow last Saturday evening.
Athletic took an early lead through Adrian O’Reilly but the home side got back on level terms before half-time. Johnny Gavin restored Mullingar’s lead on the resumption of play and although Monksland had a player sent-off just after the hour mark, the hosts grabbed a share of the spoils from the penalty spot in the dying moments.
The point apiece gets both sides off the mark after defeats in their opening encounters.
Mullingar were quickly on the attack from the start and Tony Dunne had an early chance but fired over the bar.
From the first corner kick of the game after six minutes Athletic took the lead when centre-half O’Reilly joined the attack to force home the ball after Enda Morris had delivered the ball from the corner flag.
It was the ideal start for a Mullingar team anxious to record a win after two defeats and a period of dominance followed which saw Jimmy McEntee send in an inviting cross from the left which only needed a touch to send it goal wards midway through the half.
Moments later Dunne was denied when home 'keeper Cathal Hannon made a great save to tip the number eight’s shot on the turn over the bar.
Monksland were second best at this stage but Aidan Reilly was unlucky to see his effort cleared off the line after he had got around Noel Croash on the edge of the six yard box.
The game was to spring to life for the home side on 26 minutes when from out of nothing Cathal Joyce levelled matters with a fabulous strike to the roof of the net from midway inside the Mullingar half.
Both sides had further chances before the break with O’Reilly and fellow defender Kevin Dunlevy off target with headed efforts for Athletic and Monksland's Reilly having a shot deflected behind.
On the resumption of play, Athletic were quickly under pressure from a rejuvenated home outfit as Croash did well to push behind a shot from the impressive Reilly but the game was to turn the visitors’ way after 50 minutes when they counter attacked to devastating effect.
Ian Lacey created the opening for Monksland when he played a nice pass into the near post where Hafeez Shalola was waiting to pounce but veteran keeper Croash was equal to the task with a fine save.
Almost immediately Mullingar broke downfield and with the home side appealing in vain for an offside decision, Gavin coolly slotted the ball low past the keeper from the right edge of the penalty area.
The points looked to be secured when Monksland were reduced to ten men after 64 minutes as Shalola was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in quick succession following an incident in midfield.
Undeterred however Derek Moran’s charges almost grabbed an equaliser with a quarter of an hour remaining when James Keegan fired over from a good position following a corner kick.
As full-time approached, Mullingar were still holding onto their slender advantage but the hosts were handed a life line with sx minutes remaining when Reilly was pushed inside the penalty area and the referee pointed to the penalty spot.
Ian O’Reilly stepped up to take the spot kick and made no mistake as he blasted the ball down the middle past a helpless Croash. Mullingar almost grabbed a sensational winner in stoppage time but Kevin Brennan was on hand to clear the ball away after substitute Sean Reid’s cross from the right was set to be steered into the net by a number of waiting Athletic players.
Monksland United: Cathal Hannon, James Keegan, Keith O’Reilly, Kevin Gaylard, Earl Gaylard, Ian O’Reilly, Hayeez Shaloh, Aidan Reilly, Cathal Joyce, Aaron O’Connor (Robert Connaughton 65 mins), Ian Lacey (Kevin Brennan 74).
Mullingar Athletic: Noel Croash, Paul Reid, Ollie McNamee, Kevin Dunlevy, Adrian O’Reilly, David Maher (Sean Reid 87), Enda Morris, Tony Dunne, Joe O’Connor (Michael Myers 84), Jimmy McEntee (Danny Gahan 70), Johnny Gavin (Shane Archibold 72).
Ref: Emmett Dynan (Roscrea).