A late Ben Smith goal earned South Tipperary a point in their opening game of the SFAI Subway Championship when they welcomed West Cork to Cahir Park in the U16 Munster section.

James Lynam’s flicked header had put the visitors ahead midway through the second half, but the home side stuck to their task and were rewarded for their efforts in the final minutes of the tie.

WEB South Tipp U16 SFAI Subway Championship team 12112017

With just three teams in the second of the two U16 Munster groups, both South Tipp and West Cork had eyes on an opening win, and the early moments of the game suggested it would be an entertaining contest.

Indeed, Cathal Bergin was involved in much of the play for South Tipperary, as was Paddy Remiasz who was busy throughout.

Bergin had the first sight of goal after 10 minutes when he flashed an effort just wide of Michael Sheehy’s goal, and Brandon Cagney was next to test his aim with a strike that crept past the post.

In the first half, Issac Harte’s corner-kicks for West Cork had Adam Gallagher scrambling across his line on more than one occasion, and the young goalkeeper had to be alert after 25 minutes when he dug the ball out from under his crossbar.

South Tipperary’s Rory O’Dowd probably had the best chance of the first half when the ball dropped to him at the back post. He connected brilliantly but was denied by Sheehy with a superb save.

The corner-kicks continued for West Cork as they pressed late on in the half, but South Tipp’s counter-attacking at pace ensured they also ended the first period strong.

The second half started with Aidan Rundel-Muller busy in the middle of the park for the visitors, and his doggedness in the tackle had West Cork on the front-foot.

However, the home side were soon on top again, and it was Bergin, Remiasz and Jack Moore who showed best with some slick passing and creative play.

O’Dowd had another chance to put South Tipp in front on 50 minutes, but just missed the target, and from there the momentum swung, this time favouring West Cork.

Aaron O’Driscoll had been the outlet for much of their attacking, and his endeavour was almost rewarded when he closed down Gallagher, which resulted in the goalkeeper’s clearance ricocheting off the striker and coming within inches of the inside of the post.

The next time the ball went towards the home goal it was Lynam who got out ahead of the pack, and he guided the ball past Gallagher to put the visitors in front.

It was tough on the South Tipperary youngsters who had played well up until then, but they never let their head’s drop as the clock ticked down.

Jake Davis was one of those who really stepped up, and playing off the left side, he linked up brilliantly with his team-mates to force his way to goal.

WEB West Cork U16 SFAI Subway Championship team 12112017

As the pressure gauge continued to rise, Alex Maher went one-on-one with Michael Sheehy in the West Cork goal, but the net-minder stood up well to deny the striker.

With just two minutes to go, it was inevitable that Davis would be involved in any goal for South Tipperary, and when he lofted in a dangerous cross, the ball fell kindly for Smith who bundled it into the net.

Both sides will now face Clare in their final group game, with the overall winner facing the winner of the second U16 Munster group.

South Tipperary: A Gallagher, O Looney, A Hayes, D Lee, J O’Dwyer, J Moore, J Coffee, C Bergin, T Grant, P Remiasz, B Cagney, K McNamara, J Davis, B Smith, R O’Dowd, L O’Neill, A Maher, H Birren.

West Cork: M Sheehy, I Harte, A O’Driscoll, R McCarthy, D Kelly, J O’Neill, J Lynam, H Oates, M Collins, A Rundel-Muller, J Kevane, C Santry, N Keane.

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