*David Reidy under pressure from Paudie Hayes & Kieran Eyres. Photograph: Mark Hayes
Newmarket Celtic A won a historic eight Clare Cup title in a row overcoming their friends, neighbours and clubmates Newmarket Celtic B on Friday evening.
Newmarket Celtic A 3
Newmarket Celtic B 0
Venue: Frank Healy Park, Doora
“It was an all Newmarket day” was the comment of then Newmarket Celtic Chairperson Kevin Arthur when their A and B sides contested the 1980 Munster Area Junior Cup Final, the same was applicable 39 years later as they faced off in the Banner Carpets and Flooring Clare Cup Final, the first instance where two teams from the one club met in the decider.
Arthur’s sentiments were visible at Frank Healy Park with past, present and future players of the club among the crowd along with the parish priest, current and former teachers of the village’s primary school, club committee members of today and yesterday not to mention the family, friends and supporters of Newmarket whose loyalty was certainly divided, for ninety minutes at least.
For Newmarket Celtic, the season began with celebration of their fiftieth year, to cap off the campaign there was no more fitting way for it to conclude than their two adult sides going toe to toe in the only competition in which they could meet one another.
An easy victory is suggested by the final score but in reality that was not the case. As two of the three members of the A squad to collect their 8th medal in a row, it was fitting that captain Darren Cullinan (23rd minute) and Eoin Hayes (53rd minute) would score the goals to put them on their way.
Inevitably it was a nervy and tense start by both sides with neither recording any meaningful shot on goal in the opening moments. Paudie Hayes a coach to the A team and centre half to the Bs had a flawless start to the final anchoring the defence well with captain Eoin Kelly. However poor communication from his teammates would lead to Cullinan breaking the deadlock, Hayes was dispossessed from behind by David Reidy who found Eoin O’Brien in space he teed up Eoin Hayes to cross to a free Cullinan beyond the back post with the captain tucking the ball away in the bottom right corner of the net.
This setback didn’t deter the Bs, Ronan McCormack himself a former A team attacker and holder of four Clare Cup medals was moved up as their sole striker and seconds after the switch he forced an excellent save from Shane Cusack. McCormack came close again from a free with the shot narrowly missing the head of a teammate and drifting wide.
If they were to cause an upset, the Bs needed to get a rub of the green. Three minutes from half-time it became clear they weren’t going to get that bit of luck. A strike from Ronan McAuley hit the elbow of Paddy Purcell inside the box but referee Shane Hayes did not award the penalty infuriating the majority of the crowd in the process.
On the restart, the Bs started brightly with an Alan Kelly effort blocked out for a corner kick. McCormack managed to get a foot to a Shane Cusack clearance and the subsequent spin narrowly evaded McAuley.
Liam Murphy and Davy Ryan’s As showed why they are one of the strongest teams in the province seamlessly working defence into attack, the result being Eoin Hayes’ goal to effectively kill off the game. A free was caught by Shane Cusack, the custodian launching the ball upfield to Kieran Mahony, he controlled the ball before finding Hayes and the FAI Junior International of the Year would make no mistake to slot past Kieran Eyres.
While the Bs had no joy with their shouts for a penalty in the first half, there were no such problems for the As with Tino Nzvaura adjudicated to have been fouled inside the box. The penalty from Mahony was dispatched neatly to the net leaving Eyres with no chance on 78 minutes. Testament to their honest nature, the Bs under the stewardship of Mark O’Malley and Kieran Ryan kept plugging away with Monty Mulqueen and Daniel Kotsulyak coming close.
A catch-22 scenario presented itself for the B team management before a ball was kicked in this outing. Go all out attacking with little or no support for your defence against the sharpest strikers in the county or provide the security at the back with one man to carry a high burden of work up front? They went for the latter, their defence could not be faulted but the lack of options up front limited their amount of goal chances. Nonetheless they gave the A team a tougher test than most outfits in the county have done all year with Alan Kelly, Ronan McCormack, Paudie Hayes and Jamie Cronin impressing.
Having garnered big support in Newmarket-on-Fergus down through the years, the A team had the unusual position of playing second fiddle to the Bs in terms of followers. The celebrations for each goal were toned down but they were to do a job and they did just that. Kieran Mahony, Tino Nzvaura, David Reidy and Shane Cusack when called upon were best for the winners as they won the Cup for the eighteenth time in the club’s history.
Some but not all soccer clubs were watching from the sidelines. While the Cup can form a fairytale story, the progress of the Bs is no such story, were they in the Premier Division a top four finish would be very much achievable. If nothing else, this clash of two Newmarket teams will fire other clubs into action, Celtic’s stronghold is to be admired but other clubs must now aim to force them to relinquish their grip.
Newmarket Celtic A: Shane Cusack; Eoin O’Brien, Paddy Purcell, Stephen Kelly, Darren Cullinan; Tino Nzvaura, Cathal Hayes; David Reidy, David McCarthy, Eoin Hayes; Kieran Mahony. Subs: Colin Smyth for C Hayes (66), David O’Grady for Cullinan (77), Ian Collins for E Hayes (79), Daithí O’Connell for Reidy (79), Seamie Lawlor for Purcell (79).
Newmarket Celtic B: Kieran Eyres, Jamie Cronin, Eoin Kelly, Paudie Hayes, Oisin Cavanagh; Ronan McAuley, Martin ‘Monty’ Mulqueen, Alan Kelly, Ronan McCormack; Gavin O’Donnell; Ciaran McCoy. Subs: Daniel Kotsulyak for O’Donnell (70), Danny Conway for McCoy (83), Seamus Considine for Mulqueen (83), Lee Cronin for McCormack (92).
Referee: Shane Hayes