*A melee breaks out in the Ennis derby. Photograph: Natasha Barton
AVENUE UTD extended their gap at the top of the CDSL Premier Division while Newmarket Celtic lost points away to Kilrush, Bridge Utd bounced back to winning ways and Manus Celtic claimed the bragging rights over Fair Green Celtic.
Eight points now separate Avenue Utd from their nearest challengers Shannon Town Utd and Lifford FC in the Premier Division. Reigning champions Newmarket Celtic are nine points adrift and have three games in hand to try close the gap.
Tempers flare in Ennis derby
Avenue Utd 5
Lifford FC 1
Initially fixed for Tom Steele Park, Lifford were forced to concede home advantage which was a big blow for them and a pleasant lift for Avenue.
Tensions reached boiling point on more than one occasion in a fiery Ennis derby which included three red cards.
A dangerous tackle on Avenue’s Conor Hehir resulted in a straight red card for John Ikiebey on forty three minutes but in the row that followed both Fiachra Roche and Eoghan Thynne ended up receiving their marching orders and whittling Lifford down to nine men.
Nnabuike Nneji’s powerful strike from the edge of the box gave Avenue the lead on seventeen minutes. In the previous attack, they came close to opening the deadlock with the midfielder setting up vice captain Elias Kunz.
Darren O’Neill had Lifford back on level terms soon after when he dispossessed Avenue netminder James Tierney on nineteen minutes before tapping into an empty goal.
Kunz put the hosts back in front just after the half hour mark. Again the delivery for Elias came through Nna. Chances were coughed up by both O’Neill and Mark Roche at either hand.
Additional time caused by the melee ensured the action continued longer than anticipated in the opening half and during this spell Avenue struck for their third goal. Nna again hit the scoresheet, this time on fifty minutes.
It was game over on sixty one minutes when Mossy Hehir fired home an excellent volley, the score of the day, much to the delight of the Avenue contingent.
Substitutes Stephen Jordan and Philip Talty were in unison for the fifth and final goal with Talty having a close-range finish to see David Russell’s side record a 5-1 victory in advance of their Munster Junior Cup quarter-final tie versus Cork outfit, Togher Celtic.
Avenue United: James Tierney; Jamie Roche, Conor Mullen, Dylan Casey, Conor Hehir; Mark Roche, Eoghan Thynne, Nnabuike Nneji, Mossy Hehir; Steven McGann, Elias Kunz.
Subs: Cullen McCabe for C Hehir (48) (inj), Philip Talty for Nneji (62), Dylan Barry for McGann (73), Mikey Dinan for Kunz (78), Stephen Jordan for M Hehir (78).
Lifford: Peadar O’Keeffe; Josh Ryan, John Ikiebey, Johnson Mununkum, Eoin Walsh; Paul Martin, Fiachra Roche, Chiby Okoye, Emmanuel Obadeyi; Darren O’Neill, Eddie Prunty.
Subs: John Maher for E Obadeyi (HT), Harry Griffin for O’Neill (54) (inj), Eoin Monaghan for Martin (71), Vincent Onuoha for Walsh (73), Zac Guilfoyle for Okoye (78) (inj)
Referee: Shane Hayes
Kilrush strike late to draw with Newmarket Celtic
Kilrush Rangers 3
Newmarket Celtic 3
Venue: Gallery Park, Kilrush
Kilrush Rangers claimed a valuable point in their quest to retain their status in the CDSL Premier Division.
Newmarket Celtic who built up a two goal advantage, did not start with their strongest eleven and dropped points in the league for what is only the second time this season. There’s still time and enough games on their side in their bid to secure back to back league titles but will know that further slip-ups must be avoided.
Ethan Fitzgerald returned from suspension to start at the heart of Celtic’s defence while after an injury scare David O’Grady is back in their first team.
Conor McDaid continued his strong recent form and produced a composed finish to give Newmarket the lead early on. Billy McNamara doubled their advantage to put the visitors in a comfortable position.
Michael Clair’s Kilrush side did not lie down and began to exert their influence on proceedings. No more so than Cooraclare’s Ciaran O’Donoghue in midfield and it was he cut the deficit to a single goal before the sounding of the half-time whistle.
Defender Kirill Antonov who was part of the Oscar Traynor squad this season equalised on the restart.
With ninety five minutes on the clock, it appeared that Celtic nabbed a winning goal through substitute Darragh Leahy.
However, there was to be another twist in the tale and another Kilrush defender registered a goal. This time it was Seán Madigan who netted in the final attack of the contest to see Kilrush hold the FAI Junior Cup champions to a draw. The result puts them on three points at the bottom of the table, they have a game in hand over Coole FC and a positive result is needed here for them to overtake the Gort side.
Kilrush Rangers: Harry O’Gorman; Tomack Jauses, Kirill Antonov, Sean Madigan, Jack Cleary, Karl Murphy, Ciaran O’Donoghue, Patrick Clair, Richard Gadjecki, Jamie Griffin, Norbert Kunicki.
Subs: Trevor Clancy for Cleary (inj), Graham Copley for Gadjecki.
Newmarket Celtic: Dermot Gannon; David O’Grady, Ethan Fitzgerald, Harvey Cullinan, Billy McNamara, Conor McDaid, Cian Foley, Nathan Boaventura, Tadhg Noonan, Gearoid O’Brien, David Lennon.
Subs: Eoin Hayes for Boaventura, Darragh Leahy for Noonan, David McCarthy for O’Brien.
Bridge back to winning ways
Bridge Utd 1
Tulla Utd 0
Venue: The Cragg, Tulla
Brian Corry has had an unfortunate run with injuries but the Bridge Utd captain struck the decisive goal as he returned to their starting eleven.
Corry pounced on a mix-up in the Tulla defence on sixty minutes before firing past Simon Kilker for what was the only goal of a good sporting contest in East Clare on Sunday morning.
Tulla were first out of the blocks hitting the post on two minutes before the visitors settled and began to work their way into proceedings. There were some nice passages of play but the Bridge were guilty of poor finishing which hindered their ability to go ahead before the interval.
Mike Moloney’s Tulla threatened early on in the second half but an intervention through a Leon Kelly block was the spur that Bridge Utd needed.
Kilker made excellent saves from Corry and Kyle Kirby after the concession of the game’s only goal but Tulla’s battling attempts to grab an equaliser were unsuccessful.
This three points put Bridge Utd in fifth position, they have an extra game in hand and were they to prevail in this contest they would jump ahead of both Lifford and Shannon Town Utd.
For Tulla, they are third from bottom with five points on the board.
Bridge Utd: John Mulready, Leon Kelly, Ciaran Monaghan, Liam Flynn, Eoin Keenan, Conor Deasy, Jack O’Halloran, Liam Buckley, Brian Corry, Ryan Perez, Lee Mulready.
Subs: Kyle Kirby for Perez, Jack Daly for Mulready, Luc Fitzpatrick for Monaghan.
Tulla Utd: Simon Kilker; Fiachra Hale, Adam McNamara, Diarmuid Molloy, Dara Ryan, Ayoub Aguerram, Éanna Culloo, Ian Macnamara, Ray Bane, Dan Withycombe, Seán Withycombe.
Subs: James Wallace for Culloo, Eoin Hassett for Bane, Neil Callaghan for Macnamara, David O’Donnell for S Withycombe, Liam McInerney for D Withycombe.
Manus’ Munster journey continues
Manus Celtic 2
Fairgreen Celtic 1
Venue: Frank Healy Park
Manus Celtic took the spoils in a Clare derby to book their place in the semi-final of the Munster Junior Shield with an extra-time win over Fairgreen Celtic.
Tola Crowe headed the winner in extra time to see Manus Celtic dump Fairgreen out of the provincial competition.
Alan Considine’s Manus looked the more threatening side throughout but it was Fairgreen through Kaylan O’Loughlin who headed home the opening goal on twenty three minutes. O’Loughlin formerly played at centre-half for Avenue Utd in the Premier Division. He got a head to a free from Dean Coughlan and the lead was deserved for the Ennis side at this juncture.
Striker Killian McDermott equalised early in the second half for Manus, work from Eamon Callinan and Gary Greene put him through once again with only Aidan Jordan to beat. The Clarecastle outfit were thankful to the centre-half duo of Tola Crowe and Barry Guinnane for producing a sterling display.
Their input was critical as when Fairgreen enjoyed their purple patch in the opening half it was the experienced duo at the heart of the defence that ensured they did not fall further than one goal behind.
Crowe’s header on 103 minutes in extra time ensured penalties would not be needed to determine a winner. It propels Manus to a home semi-final against Ballynanty Rovers B on February 24/25 while it will be ammunition for the easily motivated Richie O’Grady and his Fairgreen crew in their quest to hold off Manus Celtic for honours in the Brian Pyne Tiles Second Division.
Manus Celtic: Andrew Page; Colin Brigdale, Harry Ward, Tola Crowe, Barry Guinnane, Liam Halpin, Gary Greene, Jack Hayes, Killian McDermott, Eamon Callinan, Aidan Ryan.
Subs: Darragh Healy for Callinan, Cian O’Dell for Ryan, Michael Geraghty for Hayes.
Fairgreen Celtic: Aidan Jordan, Ethan Coote, Sean Perrill, Jack Walsh, William Bello, Eddie Shaw, Lee Clohessy, Kaylan O’Loughlin, Tega Dorite, Dean Coughlan, Ciaran Russell.
Subs: Sean Corry for Shaw, Eoghan Fox for O’Loughlin, Ruairi Norrby for Coote.
Referee: Michael Rock