It was Groundhog Day in Doora last Sunday.
For some if not most within Clare Soccer circles, the repetitive nature associated with seeing Newmarket Celtic lift another Clare Cup has now become monotonous. At this stage it has become an annual pilgrimage that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
So should Newmarket Celtic offer up apologies? Absolutely not.
This is supposed to be an aging Newmarket team, yet they have just put the finishing touches to an unbeaten double consecutively for the last three years. Five players collected their ninth medal in a row with Daithi O Connell claiming his tenth having previously won one with former rivals Rineanna Rovers.
The question should be asked in reflection of Sunday is what are Newmarket Celtic are doing that others aren’t? They say nothing lasts forever and this stretch of league and cup wins in particular will have to end soon but who will end it?
If Bridge United can keep their current youth’s team together as they progress in to their adult team we could be looking at the potential heirs to the throne. No one does the basics better than Newmarket both on and off the pitch and that’s down to the players. Yes they have a squad of serious talent but they don’t just rest on that talent. They train hard and always with a purpose so that when they play the opening round of the Clare Cup they are approaching it with the same attitude as they would if they were playing St Michaels or Pike Rovers in the Munster Junior Final. Obviously talent and skill has won them many a match when playing poorly but it’s the application that sets them aside from the rest. I don’t see that changing in 2021 either barring injuries or retirements.
In the nine Cup finals over the last decade I have witnessed, Newmarket played Avenue B in three of them and on each occasion they have probably had their toughest tests. Last Sunday was no different. I have mentioned this previously but Avenue B is only B in name and is perhaps the third or fourth best team in the county. They are free flowing and play the game as it should with plenty of youth and exuberance which has seen them conquer the First Division this year. However, whilst they brought plenty of challenge, particularly in the first half, they lacked physicality and experience against their more senior opponents. They are littered with players of promise and quality and can certainly hold their head up high in defeat.
In any final there is always a potential for an upset and there’s no doubt Avenue B frustrated Newmarket for large parts of the first half. They had to make it count with a goal to really ask questions of the champions but just never got close enough to making the breakthrough. When the sucker punch came from McCarthy just before half time I think it really took the sting out of Avenue’s challenge.
On the resumption of the second half it was clear that Avenue had to make something happen. Newmarket were now playing with a sense of relief about them that they were now in control and barring any mistakes could play Avenue in their half. They soon started to get Davy McCarthy on the ball in the midfield area who has an eye for a pass like no other in Clare and he soon started to pick off his team mates. Surprisingly it was the McCarthy and Hartnett connection that caught the eye throughout with the latter being a willing runner from midfield for McCarthy to find continuously. The second goal ended the game as a contest but to be fair Avenue B never stopped working and played right to the final whistle.
The season has now finally completed 380 days after it commenced and credit must be given to the CDSL for not making any rash decisions like other leagues to cancel last March. With the new season due to start in mid-September there will be a quick turnaround for both clubs and the league themselves to get ready. There are rumours of rifts within the league committee, that communication is non-existent and that decisions are taken independently with no meeting having taken place since the Covid shutdown despite the successful resumption.
The AGM will make for interesting reading if and when it occurs and regardless of the situational background, I do hope that there is an apology issued by the CDSL to its member clubs following the charge of bringing the game in to disrepute as issued by the FAI.