*Avenue Utd captain, Ronan Kerin. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

AVENUE UTD have moved closer to clinching the CDSL Premier Division title after easing past Ennis rivals Lifford FC.

Newmarket Celtic are still in the hunt and remain five points behind the league leaders and no longer have a game in hand following their victory over Lifford FC on Wednesday evening.

Bridge Utd’s strong run of form continues, their most recent victory coming against Shannon Town.

Coole FC’s relegation to the First Division has already been confirmed but they still caused an upset when defeating Kilkishen Celtic in Gort on Monday evening.

Avenue have it all their own way against Lifford FC

Avenue Utd 6
Lifford FC 0
Venue: Tom Steele Park, Ennis

There was squabbling but little fire in the Ennis derby as Avenue Utd moved a step closer to league honours when recording a 6-0 for the second weekend in succession.

Lifford FC were the victims this time round, many of their wounds self-inflicted and a consistent moaning among the team has served as their achilles heel for the past two seasons and is certainly a factor in their regression this season.

With the sun shining in Drumcliffe, Avenue raced into an early lead. The game was less than two minutes old when Ronan Kerin headed home, a free from Steven McGann was blocked by the wall and sent in the direction of the on-running Mossy Hehir, he swung a cross into the danger area which was headed to the net by captain Kerin.

Needless off the ball incidents kept Michael Rock busy in the opening half with the referee warning players that he would have no issue leaving the venue and calling off the match if the indiscipline continued.

Kuba Rubwiozski was kept busy between the posts for Lifford but Avenue playing up the hill were unable to double their advantage in the opening half. They strung together seven scoring chances with the netminder having his best contribution on the stroke of half-time when producing a double save to deny Kerin and McGann.

On the restart, a major blunder in the Lifford defence enabled Kerin to capitalise for Avenue’s second goal on forty eight minutes and that was the slightest of advantages they would need to shake off their fellow Ennis side.

Further good saves from Kuba denied Kerin and then an excellent volley from Mossy Hehir but Avenue maintained their pressure and desire to keep firing home goals.

Captain Kerin struck for his hat-trick on sixty four minutes. Jamie Roche was astute with his free-kick delivery into the box, centre-half Dylan Casey headed it across goal and Kerin applied the finishing touch to cap off a very productive hour.

More goals for Avenue meant more misery for Lifford. Steven McGann gave his mother Carmel a nice present on her 50th birthday when striking for two goals. The first on seventy one minutes arose following tremendous work from Nnabuike Nneji to regain possession, Kerin fed substitute Mark Roche and then McGann demonstrated fine footwork to weave between the defence and slot to the net.

His second goal involved a combo with Mark Roche before he fired home with his left boot on ninety one minutes. Roche struck for a goal of his own on seventy nine minutes after a shot from McGann was saved and he was alert to slot home the rebound.

Avenue Utd: Luke Woodrow; Cullen McCabe, Conor Mullen, Dylan Casey, Conor Hehir; Eoghan Thynne; Dylan Barry; Mossy Hehir, Jamie Roche; Steven McGann, Ronan Kerin.

Subs: Nnabuike Nneji for Barry (58), Mark Roche for M Hehir (62), Owen Hadden for Kerin (77), Mohammed Annane for Thynne (80)

Lifford FC: Kuba Rubwiozski; Pheilpa De Souza, Eoin Monaghan, Chiby Okoye, John Maher; Johnson Mununkum; Chuks Obadeyi; Fiachra Roche, Emmanuel Obadeyi; Finn Woods; Sean Collins.

Subs: Wayne Ryan for Okoye (50), Vinny Onuoha for De Souza (57), Harry Griffin for Woods (65).

Referee: Michael Rock

Successive wins for Celtic

Newmarket Celtic 3
Lifford FC 0
Venue: Tom Steele Park, Ennis

Newmarket Celtic moved to within five points of league leaders Avenue Utd on Wednesday evening when accounting for Lifford FC in Drumcliffe.

Following slip-ups where points were lost to Tulla Utd and Kilrush Rangers in draws and a defeat to Bridge Utd, Newmarket now need Avenue to slip up in their remaining games with includes a tie at McDonough Memorial Park in Newmarket-on-Fergus.

Given such scares Celtic’s management were taken no chances and that included when it came to the weather with their quartet of Purcell, O’Brien, Austin and Cregan all wrapped up in big jackets on one of the few bright and sunny evenings for Wednesday soccer in Clare so far in 2024.

On the field, matters were wrapped up by half-time and that was evident with the reaction of the Celtic players as they made their way to the dressing room, there was no jubilant celebrations or cheering but rather a sentiment that they were on their way to putting another three points on the board.

Goals from Nathan Boaventura, Tadhg Noonan and a wonderful volley from Aaron Rudd gave them that platform which proved to be sufficient in sealing the win against a Lifford side who for the second game in the space of four days failed to create a goal chance of note.

Newmarket recorded a comprehensive 9-1 win over Kilrush Rangers on Sunday.

Newmarket Celtic: Shane Cusack; Cian Foley, Colin Smyth, Eoin Kelly, Davy Lennon; Jack Kelly, Gearoid O’Brien, Tadhg Noonan, Aaron Rudd; Nathana Boaventura, Eoin Hayes.

Subs: Kevin Harnett for O’Brien (55), Ethan Fitzgerald for Rudd (74), Darragh Leahy for Hayes (83)

Lifford FC: Kuba Rubwiozski; Eoin Monaghan, Josh Ryan, Johnson Mununkum, John Maher; Chuks Obadeyi, Fiachra Roche; Pheilpa De Souza; Emmanuel Obadeyi; Finn Woods; Sean Collins.

Subs: Eoin Walsh for Maher (HT), Harry Griffin for C Obadeyi (62), Paul Martin for Ryan (62), Zac Guilfoyle for De Souza (79).

Referee: Michael Rock

Fourth win on the bounce for Bridge

Bridge Utd 1
Shannon Town Utd 0
Venue: Lynch Park, Shannon

A draw seemed to be on the cards between the neighbours until Liam Flynn stepped up with a last-gasp header on ninety three minutes to seal the points for Bridge Utd.

In what was an overall scrappy contest, the sides remained deadlocked until additional time. John Mulready made fine saves from Charlie Morrison and Cody Waller in the opening half with Bridge’s best opportunities falling to Ronan Tuohy who was denied by the crossbar and Jack O’Halloran who had a free kept out of the net by Gary Cusack.

With the second half only seconds old Jack Ryan missed the best chance of game blazing over from close range. Kieran Hackett had a good effort saved by Mulready but it was Mark Culbert’s visitors who pushed for the winner, not settling for a point.

The hardworking Tuohy and his late replacement Daragh Hayes were unlucky with efforts. But it was centre half Liam Flynn who stepped up to be the hero of the day snatching all three points for Bridge as they continue a fine run of recent form.

Bridge Utd: John Mulready, Kyle Kirby, Christy Griffin (c), Alan Mulready, Liam Flynn, Eoin Keenan, Jack O’Halloran, Leon Kelly, Ronan Tuohy, Ryan Perez, Lee Mulready

Subs: Aidan Moloney for Perez (60), Trevor Maxwell for Kelly (72), Dom Griffin for Keenan (74), Darragh Hayes for Tuohy (78).

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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