*Shannon Town’s Gary O’Connell. Photograph: Joe Buckley

Gary O’Connell was the hero as Shannon Town A opened their Maloney Garden Machinery Premier Division campaign with a victory over Lifford on Sunday morning.

Shannon Town Utd A 1
Lifford FC 0
Venue: Lynch Park, Shannon

With the game in injury time and everything pointing to a share of the spoils, O’Connell rose highest to home a Colin Scanlan delivery in the third minute of ‘added time’.

“It didn’t look like there was going to be a goal but thankfully it came. We kept at it and the goal came in the end. Lifford will feel hard done. It was a very close game, end to end stuff but I felt we just did enough to win it. We had a few chances that we didn’t take,” Shannon Town manager Derek Byrne maintained.

He added, “It was a good game, nice football played. Lifford are a good footballing side. Fitness showed and we looked to be the team pressing at the end. It’s a huge start because if you fall behind Newmarket you won’t catch them. You have to be up there and must be there or thereabouts at Christmas and come February/March. The plan is not to drop behind”.

Lifford manager Anton Mannering admitted to being “disappointed to lose in injury time but I can’t be disappointed in the performance. We have three or four centre backs injured and we had two or three guys starting today who aren’t 100% fit. To hold a team like Shannon Town, one of the better teams in the league, for a full ninety minutes and threaten a few times ourselves, I can’t say I’m disappointed in the guys”.

Injuries are having a big impact on their preparations, Mannering said. “We are a depleted squad right now.We are missing seven or eight altogether. It was disappointing to lose at the death but if we bring this discipline we will be alright for the season”.

Defences dominated for the most part and both goalkeepers produced some good saves in a tie which was thirty eight minutes old before the first corner was awarded and this went to the home side who had two corners in the opening half.

The home side enjoyed more possession in the second half and they forced three corners in as many minutes as the third quarter drew to a close. Rob Wall was introduced for the final quarter replacing T. J. O’Dwyer and three minutes after this period got underway, the Shannon side sent in Ben O’Neill for Ciaran Hackett.

Lifford also availed of the chance to freshen things up and they introduced Dylan Ryan, David Daly and Jean Adona. However the day belonged to the home side and while the Ennis outfit will be disappointed not to have taken something from the game, they were pleased that the team’s performance was much improved from the previous week.

Both goalkeepers, Darren Whelan for the home side and Rhys Phillips for Lifford FC were prominent throughout while others to impress were Brian Monaghan, Darren Griffin, Brian O’Connor and Gary O’Connell for the winners, Michael Junaid, John Maher and Dean Coughlan for Lifford

Shannon Town A: Darren Whelan; Aidan Leahy, Brian Monaghan, Colum Treacy, Darren Griffin, Jack Kelly, Brian O’Connor, TJ O’Dwyer, Colin Scanlan, Gary O’Connell, Ciaran Hackett.

Subs: Rob Wall for O’Dwyer; Ben O’Neill for Hackett

Lifford; Rhys Phillips; Michael Junaid, John Maher, Zube Okayo, Darragh Kerin, Narthan Kearney, Dean Coughlan, Gary McNaboe, Evander Noguira Da Silva, Nathan Bonanventure, Ruairi Norrby

Subs: Daniel Ryan for Da Silva; David Daly for Norrby; Andona for McNaboe

Referee: Paudie Hayes

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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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