A STRONG wind blowing directly down the pitch made matters very difficult for both sides at Shannon on Sunday.
Neither team will be particularly happy with their play when aided by the galeforce wind but when those involved sit down this week to review the game, they will express satisfaction at the end result which saw the spoils shared.
Underdogs St Joseph’s held the lead from the second minute when Ivor White scored the first point in this year’s championship race, until two minutes from time when Domhnaill O’Donovan fired over the equaliser.
In between, there were some hard clashes, some missed chances on both sides and some great defensive play.
The teams also shared the spoils when they met at the same venue and at the same stage in last year’s championship race.
Two early pointed frees from White were followed by like scores from play from Niall DeLoughrey, Emmet Whelan and White as the Doora-Barefield men raced five points clear by the end of the opening quarter.
The game was 14 minutes old before Nicky O’Connell opened Clonlara’s account when he converted a 50m free. They had created a few chances prior to this but failed to convert any.
St Joseph’s went on to lead 0-9 to 0-3 at half-time and White, their main scorer on the day, will be disappointed to have missed a couple of chances in the second quarter.
It looked at half-time that a six-point lead would not be sufficient and proved to be the case when John Conlon landed two in as many minutes on the resumption to cut the margin to four.
As expected, St Joseph’s withdrew Kevin Dilleen from full-forward to play at midfield and help out in defence with midfielder Damian Kennedy also dropping back to help the backs when play resumed. This move ensured that Clonlara’s forwards didn’t get too many clearcut chances.
The odds were still on a Clonlara victory at the three-quarter stage when the margin was down to two, 0-10 to 0-8. Niall De Loughrey made it three again when he had his second for St Joseph’s but a brace from John Conlon left the minimum between the sides with seven minutes still to play.
Substitute Eamonn Clohessy had an excellent effort for Doora-Barefield before Domhnaill O’Donovan landed the point of the game with four minutes remaining to again cut the deficit to one. He repeated the feat with two minutes of normal time to play and the sides were level for the first time.
Neither side managed to score again in a game, which had just over three minutes of injury time.
Teenagers Niall De Loughrey and Alan O’Neill did well for St Joseph’s as did Mark Hallinan, while the experienced Cathal O’Sullivan, Darragh O’Driscoll and Noel Brody did a lot of work as did Ken Kennedy who played to the final whistle, despite picking up a shoulder injury with 10 minutes remaining.
Tomás and Domhnaill O’Donovan, Colm Galvin and John Conlon got through a lot of work for Clonlara
Clonlara: Ger O’Connell (captain); Senan Nihill, Tomás O’Donovan, John Moloney; Cillian Fennessy, Domhnaill O’Donovan, Paul Nihill; Nicky O’Connell, Colm Galvin; John Conlon, Donal Madden, Cormac O’Donovan; Tommy Lynch, Darach Honan, Cathal O’Connell.
Sub: Pat O’Hare for Madden (35 minutes).
Scorers: John Conlon (0-5, 4f); Colm Galvin, Darach Honan, Domhnaill O’Donovan (0-2 each); Nicky O’Connell (0-1, free).
Frees for: 14; wides: 15.
“We knew that they were going to defend in the second half as we had done a lot of it in the first half. The wind dictated this. It was very hard to control the ball. In the end, it was a fair result. They have a young team and we knew that they would come at us. We had chances to win it in the last 10 minutes. You could not fault anyone in those conditions,” Tony O’Sullivan, Clonlara selector
St Joseph’s: Paul Madden; Cathal O’Sullivan, Marty O’Regan (captain), Sean Flynn; Alan O’Neill, Ken Kennedy, Darragh O’Driscoll; Damian Kennedy, Mark Hallinan; Niall DeLoughrey, Noel Brody, Ivor White; Emmet Whelan, Kevin Dilleen, Jarlath Colleran.
Subs: Shane O’Connor for Colleran (29 minutes); Eamonn Clohessy for O’Connor (38 minutes); Gary Hassett for D Kennedy (58 minutes).
Scorers: Ivor White (0-6, 4f); Mark Hallinan (0-2, 65’ x 1); Niall De Loughrey (0-2), Emmet Whelan, Eamonn Clohessy (0-1 each).
Frees for: 17; wides: 7; 65s: 1.
Bookings: Ivor White (4 minutes).
“The guys ran themselves into the ground, they were really up for this. Since the draw was made, we focused on this game. Our panel is small enough and we played a few players that were carrying injuries. The lads really defended well in the second half and this result gives us hope for the rest of the campaign,” Kevin Kennedy, St Joseph’s manager
Referee: Seanie McMahon, Newmarket.