Newmarket Celtic 1 Janesboro FC 2
ON Sunday Janesboro came to Clare for the second time in a fortnight and just as at McDonagh Park on March 13 they recorded a narrow win over Newmarket .
As was the case in that FAI Junior Cup quarter final there were one or two refereeing decisions that divided opinion, but in reality the Limerick side deserved to take the honours, creating more chances over the 90 minutes.
Newmarket took the lead after a fine goal from the potent Eoin Hayes after 23 minutes. However 13 minutes later Shane Clarke put Janesboro back on terms with an absolutely outstanding free kick from well outside the box that arrowed into the top corner of the net, leaving Niall Quinn no chance at all. Aled Harken had the winner in the 57th minute, his well struck effort from outside the box flying into the bottom corner of the net.
For much of the second half Janesboro looked more like getting a third than Newmarket did an equaliser, but the Clare side weathered the storm and did manage to create a few chances in the closing 20 minutes. The game was in the balance until the very last action, when Colin Smyth’s header went over the crossbar.
The previous game had been a cagey affair, and in the early stages of Sunday’s clash, that looked like being repeated. But as the first half progressed it got much more open, with both sides looking to attack whenever they won possession.
The weather at the County Grounds was windy and changeable and Newmarket were without midfielder Alan Kelly and centre half Stephen Kelly. While Eoin O’Brien had been making appearances from the bench in recent matches, he started on Sunday and had an excellent game.
One of O’Brien’s early interventions came when he made a crucial tackle on livewire Mike Hogan in the tenth minute, dispossessing him when he was set to shoot from close range.
When the Hayes goal arrived it was the conclusion of a fast-paced attack. An excellent flick from Ronan McCormack put him in space to the left of the goal. Support was slow in arriving (in part because one of the Janesboro defenders had hauled back a galloping Newmarket player by the jersey) and there seemed to be little on for Hayes, but he stepped away from the defender guarding him and sent a fine shot across the goal right into the bottom corner.
Just before the half hour Janesboro had very strong appeals for a penalty, following a challenge by Mark Donlon on Shane Clarke. The referee let play continue, but in truth this was taking a very benevolent view of the tackle and the Clare side were fortunate.
While Janesboro might have felt they were due a penalty earlier, in the 36th minute they were lucky to win a free kick, about ten yards from the Newmarket box. One of their attackers contested a ball in the air with Paddy Purcell and came away holding his head. A free kick was hardly due, but the referee bought the attacker’s version of events and blew for a foul.
Given the distance from goal, one wouldn’t have expected a goal to come directly, but that was exactly what happened. Clarke absolutely drilled it into the top right hand corner, clearing the wall and leaving the keeper with no chance.
It remained 1-1 at the break and in the third quarter the visitors began to turn the screw a bit.
A long ball wasn’t dealt with by the Newmaket defence in the 52nd minute, and Niall Quinn had to make a smart save from John Tierney, who took too long to take a shot, delaying even as the angle was narrowing for him.
Twelve minutes in the winner arrived. After the ball was headed clear of the Newmarket area it sat up nicely for Aled Harken whose sweetly struck shot found the bottom left hand corner .
Quinn was called on to make another decent save in the 66th minute, while shortly afterwards Janesboro put together a move that was excellent in every aspect but its conclusion. Arron Noonan found Tierney in some space to the right of the goal and his low cross found Clarke in the six yard box but the diving attacker couldn’t keep the ball down, and Newmarket escaped, just.
On 70 minutes the Newmarket defenders allowed Tierney a little too much space and he shot narrowly wide. The visitors would go close again in the 73rd minute, and it was increasingly clear that unless Newmarket got some kind of grip on the game they would go further behind.
Respond to the challenge they did however, and they enjoyed the greater share of territory and possession in the last quarter of an hour, also carving out a few chances.
Probably the best one came on 75 minutes, when a long ball released the pacey Hayes, who found himself one on one with Stephen Walsh. The keeper produced a fine save and he followed up by blocking sub Ian Collins effort.
In the 90th minute they again went very close, when David McCarthy took a shot from outside the box which went just inches wide.
The Clare side fought to the final whistle, but weren’t able to break down a competent Janesboro defence.
Overall, Janesboro were the better team, and while there may have been a touch of good fortune about the free kick their first goal came from, they could easily have been awarded a penalty earlier. Taking the 90 minutes as a whole they created more and gave away little at the back.
While it was a very windy day at the County Grounds, the pitch was in quite good condition and in fairness to both sides it was a very entertaining game.
Speaking afterwards Newmarket manager Mike O’Malley felt his side had been unlucky. “I can’t fault any of the players, they all worked hard and did what was asked of them. We just didn’t get the breaks, we didn’t get the breaks in the last game either, but it’ll come.”
Newmarket Celtic: Niall Quinn, David O’Grady, Darren Cullinan, Paddy Purcell, Mark Donlon, Colin Smyth, Eoin O’Brien, Michael Crosby, Ronan McCormack, Eoin Hayes, David McCarthy.
Subs: Ian Collins for McCormack (61 mins), Alan Brigdale for Crosby (79 mins).
Yellow cards: David O’Grady (74 mins).
Red cards: 0
Janesboro FC: Stephen Walsh, John Boyce, Lee O’Mara, Thomas Clarke, Aiden Hurley, Aled Harken, Michael Hogan, Stephen Bradley, Shane Clarke, John Tierney, Arron Noonan.
Subs: Shane Waters for Noonan (71 mins), David Donnan for Hogan (87 mins).
Yellow cards: John Boyle (27 mins), Shane Clarke (27 mins), Thomas Clark (37 mins),
Red cards: 0