*A hat-trick from Elias Kunz helped Avenue Utd into the Munster Junior Cup quarter-finals. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

AVENUE UTD have advanced with ease to the last eight of the Munster Junior Cup.

Avenue Utd 5
Mungret Regional FC 1
Venue: Roslevan

Storm Fergus made his mark in Roslevan on Sunday afternoon. Dozens of umbrellas entered the grounds in fine shape but many were left behind and some damaged beyond repair.

Similarly, Mungret entered the grounds in high spirits having knocked out last season’s beaten finalists Newmarket Celtic in the previous round but like the umbrellas they exited Roslevan worse for wear, their pain was inflicted on them by Avenue Utd and not the weather though.

By producing a powerful start, Avenue put the game beyond the reach of their Limerick opponents with less than a quarter of an hour played when scoring three goals.

First up, Mossy Hehir opened their account. A long ball was delivered to danger man Elias Kunz, he controlled it well before delivering the ball across the goal which was met with a fine connection by Hehir on the three minute mark.

For goal number two, the duo combined again. This time it was Hehir that delivered a corner that was headed to the back of the net by Kunz, at this juncture the Avenue management of David Russell, David O’Grady and Oliver Fitzpatrick would have observed that their opponents were quite shaky when it came to set pieces.

So it is no great surprise that the third goal, again came from a corner. Hehir provided the delivery with captain Ronan Kerin flicking the ball past James Roche.

A fourth Avenue goal arrived on twenty two minutes but Jamie Roche’s effort from distance was disallowed as players closer to goal were deemed by referee Michael Rock to have fouled Mungret netminder James Roche.

They persevered with efforts to make it four but chances from Mark Roche and Mossy Hehir came close but didn’t do the business.

Conor Mullen’s long delivery helped them to collecting that fourth goal, the defender cleared his lines and a blunder from Mungret goalkeeper James Roche was punished by Elias Kunz to calmly make it 4-0.

As half-time arrived with the rain and wind rising, many of the supporters had reached the natural conclusion that it was game over so the crowd that remained for the second half was virtually cut in two.

Those that stayed nearly witnessed a fifth goal early on but two chances from Kunz came up short, one stopped by the post and the other going the wrong side of the right post.

Sloppy marking from Avenue for a Mungret corner saw the visitors pull a goal back through Hamza Celik on fifty five minutes when he was given the time and space to manoeuvre an effort, inches away from goal.

Celik’s goal was quickly cancelled out at the other end with Kunz picking up his hat-trick on sixty minutes. In his first involvement in proceedings, Steven McGann won possession back for the hosts with a strong challenge, they worked the ball across the field to the left flank where Jamie Roche’s cross put Kunz through and he made no mistake to wrap up the victory.

Several more goals could have fell the way of the hosts but they were caught on multiple occasions for offsides.

In what was a very commanding showing from Avenue, their reward is a place in the quarter-finals of the provincial competition for the first time in David Russell’s tenure as manager. They exited in the third round to Newmarket Celtic last season and the last sixteen the year previous so they will be buoyed by their recent form and progression to the last eight.

They didn’t allow Mungret to lay a glove on them in the opening half and they will be wondering how their rivals Newmarket were eliminated from this competition by the Limerick side, such was the gulf in standard. Avenue are certainly in a strong place heading into the festive season. Their first half dominance is a clear example of what they can do when their focus is solely on the football and not their opponents.

Mossy Hehir produced an excellent opening forty minutes up until injury ended his involvement, Cullen McCabe made his return known at full-back while Elias Kunz led the way up front with Nnabuike Nneji rock solid once again in the engine room. That Luke Woodrow had such a limited involvement in the game is credit to their defence led by Dylan Casey and Conor Mullen.

Avenue Utd: Luke Woodrow, Cullen McCabe, Conor Mullen, Dylan Casey, Jamie Roche; Nnabuike Nneji, Eoghan Thynne, Mossy Hehir, Mark Roche; Ronan Kerin, Elias Kunz.

Subs: Vincent Onuoha for Hehir (43) (inj), Steven McGann for Kerin (60), Dylan Barry for Thynne (70), Philip Talty for Kunz (73), Conor Hehir for J Roche (73)

Mungret: James Roche, Mark Patterson, Conor Myers, Jamie Enright, Aaron Long, Craig Prendergast, Kieran Long, Darragh Killian, Patrick Ahern, Hanza Celik, Alex Harkin

Subs: Cian McNicholas for C Prendergast inj (30), Gary Kelly for M Patterson (52), Brian Cotter for C Myers (74)

Referee: Michael Rock

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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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