Clare 2 Combined Counties 1
THE Clare Youths have emulated the county juniors by qualifying for the knock-out stages of the inter-youths league cup.
The victory over the Combined Counties sealed Clare’s passage to the next stage of the competition with a game still to play.
Their postponed match with Galway is scheduled for Wednesday, January 6 at Terryland Park, when it will be played under lights.
The win was fully merited, even if the Clare defence did have a few anxious moments. The home side went into the game in the knowledge that a draw would be enough to see them through to the play-offs, as they had accounted for Roscommon on a 3-1 scoreline in the opening round.
This win is particularly pleasing to Clare, as it’s been a number of years since the county progressed to the knock-out stage in this competition.
The home side took the lead in the 10th minute. David Smith made a great run down the left wing before putting the ball into the path of Cathal Nolan, who cooly slotted it home.
Clare should have built on this advantage but they struggled in some areas and this allowed the visitors, who are drawn from Athlone, parts of Offaly and Roscrea, to come storming back and they levelled after nine minutes when Eoin George turned a corner by Robert Bracken past Colin Burke in the Clare goal.
For a while after this score the Clare defence lived dangerously but Darren O’Neill was powerful in the air and he dealt with a number of deliveries from the visitors’ midfield area.
The winners were a little fortunate to be on level terms at half-time, as a tally of seven corners to one in favour of the visitors indicates that the midlanders had their fair share of possession.
It was, to be fair, a different story in the second half, when Clare had the better of matters in most departments.
They went back in front 15 minutes into the second half and this time, the finish came from Graham Glynn after a Ryan Boyle corner caused problems for the visitors’ defence.
From here to the finish, the home side had the better of exchanges, with Cathal Nolan, in particular, causing huge problems for the Combined Counties.
Time and again he threatened to stretch Clare’s lead but some good defence on the part of the visitors and a lack of support for the Avenue player meant that the scoreline remained the same.
When referee Julian Stanford sounded the final whistle, Clare were deserving victors on a day when Liam Meaney, Darren O’Neill and particularly Cathal Nolan stood out.
Clare: Colin Burke, (Lifford); Liam Meaney, (Lifford); Paudie Hayes, (Newmarket Celtic); Conor Ryan, (Newmarket Celtic); Darren O’Neill, (Lifford); Thomas Clair, (Lifford); Ryan Boyle, (Lifford); Keith O’Connor, (Kildysart Celtic); Graham Glynn, (Avenue); David Smith, (Avenue); Cathal Nolan, (Avenue).
Subs: Colin Ryan, (Avenue) for O’Connor (56 minutes); Thomas Cronin, (Lifford) for Glynn (89 minutes).
Combined Counties: Jason Ryan; James Craughwell, Liam Thomas, Eddie Melia, EoghanWhite, Seán Kenny, Robert Bracken, David McNamara, Owen George, Stephen Screeney, Gary Buckley.
Referee: Julian Stanford; Linesmen: Michael Monaghan, Michael Rock.