*David McCarthy during a league meeting between the sides. Photograph: Mark Hayes
Newmarket Celtic A kept their ambitions of winning a historic ninth Clare Cup title in succession alive following a facile semi-final win over Avenue Utd A.
Newmarket Celtic A 4
Avenue Utd A 0
Venue: Frank Healy Park, Doora
Before a half an hour was gone in the contest, it was effectively game over in the first of the Banner Carpets & Flooring Clare Cup semi-finals. By this juncture, Newmarket had put the ball in the Avenue net on three occasions and were left a foolproof task of seeing out an encounter against a side that are capable of putting up a much better challenge than what they demonstrated.
Having dispossessed Avenue Utd on the right wing, Eoin O’Brien and Ronan McCormack combined to find Kevin Harnett who was left one on one with only James Tierney to beat and he made no mistake in finding the target on ten minutes.
Indeed, the Clare senior footballer exhibited one of the more impressive performances of the last four clash, jinking past players with ease while also linking up well with his teammates to build attacks.
Three minutes had passed and Celtic had doubled their advantage. A move which arose from an Avenue free being cleared with ease from the Newmarket defence ended as Eoin Hayes outpaced Conor Mullen before sticking the ball past Tierney to deflate the Ennis side.
A clumsy foul by Jamie Roche on Kevin Harnett left Mark Rellis with no option but to award a penalty. Up stepped Ronan McCormack who scored in the same fixture which lasted for six minutes earlier this year and he calmly finished the ball to the bottom right corner of the net on twenty five minutes.
Slack marking on Avenue’s behalf was also punished before the half-time whistle as Stephen Kelly was afforded too much space to get his head to a Celtic cross and the towering defender made no mistake to seal the deal with only thirty nine minutes on the clock.
Celtic focused on snuffing out any danger in the second half having already won the game, they just needed to see it out which they did. They almost added to their tally but Sean O’Callaghan got to the ball in the nick of time to stop Eoin Hayes bagging a second goal.
Avenue were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty on sixty three minutes for what appeared to be a handball in the Newmarket box, the addition of Cian McDonough to their midfield added some energy to their midfield and posed the question as to why he did not receive a starting spot.
Little else caused excitement in the second half as Avenue slumped out of the competition to ensure their top team would obtain no silverware from this season.
For Mark O’Malley’s Newmarket they won’t get too carried away with the result as the priority is now on Sunday’s cup final. Their opponents will be known following Wednesday evening’s clash between Sporting Ennistymon and Avenue Utd B.
Newmarket Celtic: Shane Cusack; David O’Grady, Paddy Purcell, Stephen Kelly, Eoin O’Brien; Callum McNamara, David McCarthy, Colin Smyth, Kevin Harnett, Ronan McCormack; Eoin Hayes.
Subs: Aaron Rudd for McCarthy (HT), Cathal Hayes for Harnett (58), Ian Collins for McCormack (70), Daithí O’Connell for E Hayes (70), Alan Kelly for McNamara (76).
Avenue Utd: James Tierney; Dean D’Auria, Sean O’Callaghan, Dylan Casey, Conor Mullen; Phillip Talty, Alan Roche, Jamie Roche, Gavin Cooney; Gary Roche, Mark Roche.
Subs: Simon Cuddy for Mullen (21), Mikey Dinan for G Roche (HT), Cian McDonough for J Roche (54), Richie Fitzgerald for Talty (64).
Referee: Mark Rellis