*Fair Green Celtic players celebrate their goal. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
FAIR GREEN CELTIC have bowed out of the FAI Junior Cup after coming up short against Rathkeale AFC.
Rathkeale AFC 2
Fair Green Celtic 1
Venue: Lees Rd
Rathkeale’s greater physicality and composure on the ball was a deciding factor in Sunday afternoon’s third round tie in the FAI Junior Cup.
Despite having a dream start when Lee Clohessy struck for goal from the back post with two minutes played, Fair Green Celtic failed to add a second and squandered their early advantage to see them exit the national competition.
As the rain began to pour on the Astro turf of Lees Rd, Rathkeale were beginning to find their feet and more importantly to use the ball effectively. They levelled on eleven minutes when midfielder Aidan O’Shea struck to the top left corner of Aidan Jordan’s net to wipe the wind from the sails of the hosts.
Attempts to respond bore no joy for Fair Green, they had two chances in succession but none were sufficient to worry Aaron Hogan between the posts.
An excellent tackle from Alan O’Shea stopped Clohessy when he was bearing down on goal but the subsequent corner resulted in a poor shot from Ross McCarthy which drifted wide on twenty four minutes.
Barry Coleman forced Jordan to make his best save of the afternoon, the ball managed to spill from his hands but the danger was cleared by the Ennis side.
There was further pressure by their goalmouth but they were relieved when Barry Enright’s header sailed over the crossbar just on the stroke of half time.
Jordan was called on twice in the early stages of the second half, making saves to stop Enright and substitute Chris Carey in the opening five minutes.
Fair Green’s best chance to go back in front fell to striker Ethan Fox and his effort was kept out by the legs of Rathkeale’s custodian Aaron Hogan with fifty one minutes on the clock.
Carey may not have scored with his first but he capitalised for the second opportunity, Dean Coughlan’s attempted pass back to goalkeeper Jordan was read by the Rathkeale winger who intercepted the ball and made no mistake in slotting to the back of the net to give the Limerick side the lead.
From here on, it was a case of holding the one goal advantage and that it was duly what Rathkeale did. Fair Green failed to produce any chance of note as they struggled to put successive passes together and thus the creation of any decent sequences were very scarce.
Four minutes of additional time were played and while the bulk of the possession in this nervy moments seemed to be with Fair Green’s attack for the majority, the final touch was missing as their search to find an equaliser did not bring the desired outcome.
In the centre of the park, Rathkeale’s strong duo of Barry Coleman and Aidan O’Shea had a big influence when needed in the opening half, they defended well and managed to survive any threatening spell.
When reflecting on their display, there will be plenty of disappointment for Fair Green who although they had a goal so early never seemed to find their rhythm in this contest. They struggled to provide support for Ethan Fox up front so when he managed to get the ball he was quickly outnumbered by Rathkeale opponents. On the ball, Richie O’Grady’s charges lacked a small bit of composure but their overall progression through the ranks of the league divisions in Clare is likely to continue, however if they replicate performances of this nature they are unlikely to make back to back Clare Cup semi-finals unless they are handed a favourable draw.
Rathkeale AFC: Aaron Hogan; Alan O’Shea, Sean O’Shea, Cathal Commane, Mikey Morrissey; Patrick Wilnoll, Barry Coleman, Aidan O’Shea, Dean Moore; Jack Hennessy, Barry Enright.
Subs: Chris Carey for Aidan O’Shea (HT) (inj), John Fitzgerald for Wilnoll (76).
Fair Green Celtic: Aidan Jordan; David McMahon, Jack Walsh, Ross McCarthy, Ruairi Norrby; Eddie Shaw, Patrick McDaid; Dean Coughlan, William Bello, Lee Clohessy; Ethan Fox.
Subs: Bruce Piggott for Norrby (57), Shane Ryan for Fox (61), Tega Dorite for Bello (68).
Referee: Shane Hayes