*Tomás Hehir. Photograph: Mark Hayes
Avenue Utd B advanced to the final of the Banner Carpets & Flooring Clare Cup with a deserved victory over Sporting Ennistymon on Wednesday evening.
Avenue Utd B 3
Sporting Ennistymon 1
Venue: Frank Healy Park, Doora
Tomás ‘Mossy’ Hehir was the man of the hour collecting a hat-trick to set up a repeat of the 2016 Clare Cup final.
Twenty four hours after the club’s A side slumped to a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Newmarket Celtic A, Avenue B put some pride in the jersey and matched it with a decent display over the ninety minutes.
Arguably the move of the match resulted in the opening goal. Full-back Cullen McCabe dispossessed his counterpart Tiernan Hogan with Conor McDaid getting involved with excellent vision to pick out Eoghan Thynne, the winger broke a tackle and retained possession before making a precise delivery which Hehir duly dispatched to the net.
Ennistymon’s response was admirable and they were back on level terms following their next attack. A clumsy challenge by Conor McDaid on Sean McConigley resulted in a free on the edge of their box which McConigley excellently tucked into the bottom right corner on twelve minutes.
Putting an emphasis on directing the ball towards Ciarán McMahon’s wing seemed to be a ploy for Eddie Crowe’s Ennistymon in the opening half. It appeared to work wonders when they took the lead on twenty two minutes with superb passing between McConigley and McMahon before he tucked the ball away only for the match officials to deem that the North Clare winger was offside.
For their part, Avenue continued to move the ball well but were unable to properly test Darragh Flynn for the remainder of the half to leave the score at 1-1 as the sides retreated at half-time.
Hehir struck for his second goal on sixty three minutes with a bullet of an effort. Manus Doherty managed to win a corner for the Ennis club which was subsequently headed off the line by Patrick O’Doherty but straight into the path of Avenue’s danger man and he almost ripped the net at Frank Healy Park with his volley.
He wrapped up the tie fifteen minutes later after his shot took a slight deflection off Jack O’Dea to deceive netminder Flynn and send Avenue B back on their way to the Cup final. They managed to do this despite losing Pa McDaid midway through the half, the midfielder was hit by a powerful shot in the one area any male does not want to be hit by a forceful strike.
Tensions between the sides simmered away for the remainder of the contest but both finished with eleven men on the field.
Moving the ball from defence to attack worked particularly well for Avenue and it was in this sector that right-full Cullen McCabe was most effective. Along with Mossy Hehir and Patrick Sherlock, they were most impressive for Declan Ryan’s outfit. They claimed success in the First Division and in this encounter but Sunday’s Cup Final will pose a very physical challenge and how they adapt to this will influence the outcome. The opportunity to upset Newmarket’s bid for nine Clare Cups in a row is one they should relish.
During the second half, Sporting Ennistymon’s attacking threat faded. Danger man Sean McConigley posed problems in the opening half but the supply of ball dried up as the game progressed thus limiting their chances of clawing their way back.
Avenue Utd B: Aiden Jordan; Cullen McCabe, Patrick Sherlock, Philip Ryan, Conor Hehir; Conor McDaid, Patrick McDaid; Manus Doherty, Eoghan Thynne; Tomás Hehir, Nathan Beonentura.
Subs: Ronan Lanigan for P McDaid (56) (Inj), Lee Clohessy for Thynne (60).
Sporting Ennistymon: Darragh Flynn; Patrick O’Doherty, Michael O’Dwyer, Jack O’Dea, Tiernan Hogan; Joseph Gallagher, Eoin Marrinan, Michael Leigh, Ciarán McMahon; Tomás Cullinan; Sean McConigley.
Subs: Jamesy McConigley for Gallagher (65), Cathal McConigley for Marrinan (83), Éanna Collins for McMahon (86).
Referee: Julian Sandford