*Lifford’s Fiachra Roche. Photograph: Joe Buckley

LIFFORD FC have moved to the top of the CDSL Premier Division.

Lifford FC 5
Coole FC 3
Venue: St Coleman’s Park, Gort

Foundations were laid in the opening half as Lifford survived a second half comeback from Coole FC to ensure that they to go to the top of the Premier Division and leapfrog Avenue Utd.

Windy conditions in Gort were testing for both sides but Lifford’s know-how stood to them as they caught the hosts when playing the ball over the top and allowing their players with pace and power to win the race and hold possession.

A cross from Emmanuel Obadeyi ended up in the back of the net to open the scoring on seventeen minutes.

Lifford pushed to double their tally with attempts from Eoin Monaghan, Darren O’Neill and Finn Woods coming close but were not sufficient to leave Joel Smith sweating between the posts.

Smith was picking the ball from behind the line with thirty minutes played. Eoin Monaghan got a flick on a corner kick to put the ball past the Coole goalkeeper and putting them in a healthy position on the half hour mark.

Coole worked the ball towards the town end and put back to back opportunities together but Peadar O’Keeffe was on hand to snuff out any danger.

Two more goals should have arrived for Lifford but Sean Collins and Harry Griffin both failed to capitalise towards the end of the half.

Goal number three did arrive before the half-time whistle and was an excellent passage of play from the Ennis club. They worked the ball superbly and in the final sequence Darren O’Neill at the edge of the box played a cross away from goal to Fiachra Roche who had a marvellous shot that left Smith looking into the bottom right corner of the net.

As tempers were beginning to rise between the teams, Coole FC got off the mark. Adriano Hendrick found striker Jack Kealey with a cross, poor reactions from Lifford allowing their opponents to pull a goal back.

Substitute Clinton Bempah was fouled on sixty four minutes with Julian Sandford after some deliberation pointing to the penalty spot. Lifford’s chance to make it 4-1 was not capitalised as Chuks Obadeyi drove the penalty, right of the post and wide.

Four minutes later Obadeyi was sent for an early shower. He was shown a second yellow card when he was the ‘third man in’ when Sean Collins and Carlos Meto got into an altercation, the pair were also given yellow cards.

Their fourth goal did arrive on sixty five minutes. Seconds after Johnson Mununkum headed wide, the resulting kickout fell to Darren O’Neill who took a punt and ended up placing the ball in the back of the net.

An error from Smith helped Lifford to make it 5-1. Sean Collins delivered a cross across the goal, Smith bundled the delivery and it fell to substitute Zac Guilfoyle who was glad to put his name on the scoresheet with seventy eight minutes played.

To their credit, Coole didn’t roll over, they were keen to force their way back and constantly referenced the numerical advantage in a bid to keep their charges motivated.

Hesistancy again in the Lifford defence allowed the hosts to pounce for goal. Jack Granahan punished this delay in reactions when he got on the end of a cross from Adam McMahon to make it 5-2 with ten minutes of normal time to play.

Smith denied Lifford a sixth goal when stopping a shot from Clinton Bempah with his legs on eighty five minutes, another shot fell the way of Bempah but this time the goalkeeper wasn’t called upon as it sailed over the bar.

Ivan Vico had a scrappy finish but it crossed the line all the same to see Coole FC cut the gap further, in additional time. Crucially however time was against them as their late rally was disrupted by the sounding of the full-time whistle.

In what was a tie that they could have easily lost points in, Lifford will be relieved to have exited Gort with three points under their belt. Their move to the top of the table, though it may only last a week, is just reward. Adrian Walsh’s side are showing continued improvement during the season with additions like Darren O’Neill and Sean Collins offering a new dimension to their play. In the opening half, Finn Woods and Emmauel Obadeyi operated as attacking full-backs which was a big asset in them holding a healthy interval lead.

For their spell at the top to be more than just a brief flash in the pan, more focus on their discipline and communication on the field is an area that they need to exert energy in gaining an improvement, they picked up four needless yellow cards and were reduced to ten men. Best on this occasion for last season’s Cup finalists were Fiachra Roche, Eoin Monaghan, Darren O’Neill, Johnson Mununkum and Sean Collins.

Spirit was shown in the second half from Coole who have had a difficult season when their recent 10-1 defeat to Avenue is brought into the equation. They will not be challenging for honours, that is for certain but they will need to display character in abundance for their particular battle to retain their Premier Division status.

Lifford FC: Peadar O’Keeffe, Fine Woods, Lase Ifatajbo, Eoin Monaghan, Emmauel Obadeyi; Fiachra Roche; Harry Griffin, Johnson Mununkum, Chuks Obadeyi; Sean Collins, Darren O’Neill.

Subs: Clinton Bempah for Woods (55), Paul Martin for Griffin (55), Josh Ryan for Ifatajbo (55), Zac Guilfoyle for E Obadeyi (70).

Coole FC: Joel Smith; Jack Granahan, Icuba Mamala, Carlos Meto, Aurellio; Jimmy McDonald, Adriano Hendrick, Ivan Vico, Philip Desouza, Jack Kealey, Tom O’Neill.

Subs: Kieran Doyle for McDonald (35) (inj), Thomas Murmeo for Keackey (58), Adam McMahon for Desousa (62).

Referee: Julian Sandford

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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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