*Conor Hehir clears the ball from Colin Smyth. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

RETAINING THE LEAGUE title is the best way for Newmarket Celtic to bounce back from the disappointment of losing the Clare Cup.

Newmarket Celtic had been chasing an unprecedented tenth Clare Cup in succession but fell short against Avenue Utd with goals from Elias Kunz and Eoghan Thynne setting the Ennis club up for a 2-1 win, Eoin Hayes’ well taken free kick coming as a mere consolation in the dying moments.

On Wednesday evening, the sides do battle again to determine who will be crowned Premier Division champions. Avenue have home advantage and need only a draw while Celtic must record a win to take home the silverware.

Manager of the Newmarket Celtic side, Mark O’Malley maintained their best response to the Cup final loss was to immediately bounce back. “There’s a lot of disappointed lads from Newmarket over there, the only way to rid that disappointment is to win the League on Wednesday night but it’s going to be a tough game again, Avenue are firm favourites and we’ll see what happens”.

Mark O’Malley. Photograph: Natasha Barton

Looking back on the Cup final, the former Celtic full-back lamented the concession of the early goals. “We weren’t happy with the two goals we conceded, defensively we got it wrong, we could have been better in midfield for it as well. I thought for the second one there was a touch of handball in it but the linesman didn’t see it and he was probably the only one that didn’t but at the same time you’ve got to give credit to Avenue, they deserved their victory today, they got a 2-0 lead at half time, they didn’t really trouble us in the second half, if we got one back it could have been a different story but we didn’t and we’ve to regroup and go again”.

“It’s disappointing but credit to the club and the lads that have been involved, they’ve done nine Clare Cups in a row, this is hard to take but we will bounce back again next year and that is all we can do,” O’Malley added.

Their inability to pull a goal back earlier was crucial, he felt. “What we said at half time was the next goal would decide this game, there’s the old saying in football that 2-0 is a dangerous lead, even if we got one with ten minutes to go it would have put pressure on a young Avenue team but with the 2-0 cushion the whole time they had a bit of comfort, if we got one with twenty minutes to go who knows what would have happened but it didn’t happen so Avenue deserved their victory, they won the game 2-1, they’ve a good management team that probably deserved to win a Cup because of the effort they’ve put in, I know the two Davys a long time and I said congratulations to them and they’ve done a fantastic job as a management team and ye deserve it. We’ll dust ourselves down and go again Wednesday night”.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

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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