Johnville 0; Hibernians 1
Two nervous teams played out a very nervous relegation match on a glorious Sunday morning in St Martins Park. Johnville went into the game clear in the knowledge that a victory would get them up to an overall total of 16 points, and perhaps even into the top half of the table. Defeat on the other hand would drag them right back into the relegation dog fight.
Hibs badly required the points because if results in the other Sunday games went against them and they were to lose then they could very well be filling the rock bottom position.
Hibs took all three points on offer and dumped Dungarvan to the bottom spot. Johnville, needless to say, are right back in the mire once again, and with games against Tramore and Carrick United on the agenda in the coming weeks they face a nail-biting finish to a season.
Johnville were the first side to get a shot on target when Anthony Phelan was just over with a good effort from just outside the penalty area. Hibernians were unlucky not to take the lead on 18 minutes. Goalkeeper Nicholas Mackey threw the ball out to John Boland who played the ball forward to Richie Murphy who in turn lobbed the ball over the advancing Johnville goalkeeper Joe Grant but it came back off the upright.
Grant did well to save a well struck free kick from Dayne Ormond on the half-hour mark. What proved to be the only goal of the game arrived after 38 minutes and a peach of a score it proved to be. Hibs’ left-full Stephen McGrath played the ball down the flank to David McGrath and when he crossed low into the six-yard box, David Kennedy was in the right place to tuck the ball home past the helpless Grant.
Johnville were very lucky not to fall further behind just before half time. Dayne Ormond curled a free kick around the Johnville wall but the ball came crashing back off the upright.
Johnville enjoyed a lot of the ball during the opening 15 minutes of the second period but they didn’t do a lot with it, but nevertheless they could have equalised on the hour mark when Declan Phelan met a right wing cross from Gary Kelly but he could not keep his header down.
David McCarthy brought a brilliant save from the Johnville goalkeeper Joe Grant on 76 minutes when he turned and shot from 20 yards only for the home netminder to tip the ball over the crossbar. The final minutes saw Johnville pile forward and they had two more chances to take a point from the game.
An Alan Ryan free kick from the right was headed over by John O’Leary from close range and five minutes into time added on, Gary Kelly placed the ball on to the head of Alan Ryan but he headed straight at Nicholas Mackey.
Johnville: Joe Grant, Alan Ryan, Declan Phelan, John Kennedy, Paul Cleary, Dan Murphy, Anthony Phelan, Valdo Bulvas, James Starmer, John O’Leary, Gary Kelly. Subs: Gavin Phelan for Bulvas (H-T), Christian Walsh for Declan Phelan (82 mins)
Hibernians: Nicholas Mackey, Joey Phelan, Stephen McGrath, John Boland, Michael Dunne, Clive Prendergast, Dayne Ormond, David McGrath, David Kennedy, Sean Ryan, Ritchie Murphy. Sub: Ritchie Burke for Ryan (26 mins).
Referee: Jimmy McGrath.