*Ronan Kerin tries to control the ball as Evan Kelly ducks for cover. Photograph: Natasha Barton
Avenue Utd made an impression while laying down a marker when commencing their bid for honours in the Maloney Garden Machinery Premier Division.
Avenue Utd A 7
Ennis Town FC 2
Venue: Lees Rd, Ennis
Viewed as the main side capable of putting a half to Newmarket Celtic’s dominance of both the Clare Cup and Premier League for the best part of a decade, Avenue Utd justified that narrative and demonstrated that they will certainly cause the champions plenty of trouble this season.
Arguably their first half showing was the more impressive but despite easing up on the gas in the second half, they hit home four goals.
Key players from last season’s Avenue Utd B side which contested the Clare Cup final have made the step-up to the A outfit with Cullen McCabe, Conor Hehir, Eoghan Thynne and Tomás Hehir all slotting seamlessly into the lineup. New additions Stephen Jordan and Cian O’Dea lined out at either wing with Jordan’s brother Aidan between the posts for Ennis Town.
Hopes of Ennis Town causing an upset were greatly reduced early on with a deflected shot putting Avenue in front while Ronan Kerin doubled their lead on eleven minutes.
Within moments, Ennis Town did cut the deficit with Dean Hegarty tapping home but they were unable to build further momentum from here with Avenue continuing to keep their defence very busy.
Tomás Hehir collected his first goal in the Premier Division shortly before the half-time whistle to put David Russell’s charges in a healthy 3-1 lead as the sides retreated at the interval.
Substitute Mark Roche teed up with full-back McCabe to make it 4-1 on sixty minutes. Quick reactions from their goalkeeper Paul Roche kickstarted the move which resulted in Kerin’s second goal and their fifth on seventy six minutes.
Mikey Dinan had a one on one effort that went abegging at one end with Ennis Town working it straight down the field from the kickout and finished it to the net via Hegarty on eighty five minutes.
While the 5-2 scoreline was not ideal, it would have been respectable for Ennis Town but they lost even more composure in additional time with Kerin rebounding a header to the net while Elias Kunz scored against his former club to leave it 7-2 at the final whistle.
For a young Ennis Town, they can ascertain plenty of learnings particularly when it comes to finding the best mix of players for their team when it comes to youth and experience. Their younger players did impress but lacked leadership and physicality which will be punished by the top teams like Avenue. Steven Horgan, Eoin Keenan and Jashar Aliu were best for Tony Downey’s side.
Tougher tests lie ahead for Avenue but make no mistake, they have hit the ground running and will be difficult to stop. Their squad has multiplied in its strength with a number of players even unavailable for selection. With the Premier League, it is more a marathon than a sprint so the strength of their squad will become very important as the weeks and months progress. Losing Alan Roche and Tomás Hehir to injury plus their slight dip in the second half were the only concerns from their end. Cullen McCabe, Ronan Kerin, Tomás Hehir, Dylan Casey and Alan Roche impressed for the winners.
Avenue Utd A: Paul Roche; Cullen McCabe, Simon Cuddy, Dylan Casey, Conor Hehir; Alan Roche; Stephen Jordan, Eoghan Thynne, Cian O’Dea; Ronan Kerin, Tomás Hehir.
Subs: Mikey Dinan for A Roche (44) (Inj), Elias Kunz for Jordan (51), Mark Roche for T Hehir (55) (Inj), Dylan Barry for Thynne (70), Shane Brown for O’Dea (70)
Ennis Town FC: Aidan Jordan; Thomas Collins, Steven Horgan, Chibby Okoye, Emmanuel Ihieberg; Dean Hegarty, Peter O’Brien, Eoin Keenan, Evan Kelly; Jashar Aliu; David Keenan.
Subs: Seanie Perill for Ihieberg (33), Declan Ensko for Collins (HT), Josh Saili for E Keenan (50) (Inj), Lee Clohessy for D Keenan (70), Lase Ifebajo for Okoye (76).
Referee: Pa Gleeson