Clare 5 Limerick 3
THURSDAY evening was an historic occasion for Clare soccer as the first competitive match was played under the league’s new floodlights at the County Grounds in Doora.
Adding to the sense of enjoyment was the fact that the game was the opening round in this season’s Oscar Traynor, inter-league junior football competition and Clare marked the occasion with a merited victory over neighbours Limerick, one of the fancied teams for the title.
A superb first half saw Clare dominate and deservedly take a 3-0 lead to the break. It could have been a bigger lead for the home team, had they availed of all of the chances they created.
Eoin Hayes capped an excellent performance with a hat-trick. His first came in the eighth minute, his second four minutes into the second half, a score that put the winners four clear, and his third in the third minute of injury time, when he converted a penalty after David Reidy had been taken down.
The other goalscorers for the winners were Colin Smith, with a superb strike three minutes from half-time, and team captain David McCarthy, three minutes later.
When the winners went four clear, it looked all over but Limerick hit back strongly and two goals in a minute, the second an own goal, clearly rattled the home side, who went on to experience a number of anxious moments. The visitors closed the margin to one when Michael O’Gorman scored from the penalty spot with 15 minutes to play.
Ten minutes from the end, Clare goalkeeper John Mulready made a fine save from Colin Scanlon. Shortly before the full-time whistle, Limerick were reduced to 10 men, when Thomas Lyons picked up a second yellow card. Clare sealed the win when Eoin Hayes converted a penalty awarded for a foul on David Reidy.
Clare: John Mulready (Bridge United); Matty Nugent (Avenue United); Darren Cullinan (Newmarket Celtic), Darren Murphy (Bridge United), Rhys Phillips (Avenue United); Colin Smith (Avenue United), Michael Crosby (Newmarket Celtic), Stephen Kelly (Newmarket Celtic), Eoin Hayes (Newmarket Celtic), David McCarthy (Avenue United, captain), David Reidy (Ennis Town).
Subs: Cian Burke (Avenue United) for Smith, Darragh Fitzgerald (Bridge United) for McCarthy and Paudie Hayes (Newmarket Celtic) for Crosby.