*Left winger Éanna Culloo was among the young players to impress for Tulla Utd. Photograph: Joe Buckley

TULLA UTD’s continued development is dependent on them retaining their place in the Maloney Garden Machinery Premier Division.

A chance to reach the final of the Ennis Carpets Clare Cup for the first time in their fifty three year history was within their grasp but they were eliminated at the penultimate stage following a penalty shootout.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Tulla Utd boss Mike Moloney noted, “penalties are always cruel but we’re really proud of the lads, I know that is a stock statement at the end of these occasions but to be down three experienced fellas, Sean Withycombe, Liam McInerney and Daragh Corry, apart from Ray Bane everybody else in the starting team was twenty or younger. Today is not an end in itself, it is about the future and giving the lads the experience of days like today and making sure we get back here again”.

They did seem more threatening than Lifford of getting of goal in both normal and extra time but Tulla never managed to put the ball past Peadar O’Keeffe. “That little bit of composure to take in when you get in (was missing). We were creating the chances which was a good thing but it was a game that was destined to go to penalties from a long way out, one goal would have settled it but at the end of the day there’s no regrets, it is what it is and we need to move on and get ready for the Newmarket game and whatever it is beyond that”.

On the injury front, Corry is expected to remain out of action for a couple of weeks while the extent of Withycombe’s injury will be known when an MRI scan is read but McInerney is likely to line out for their final league clash of the season.

For that tie, there is an awful lot to play for from a Tulla perspective. “We’ve a game against Newmarket to come, if we get a point out of that we stay up and if we don’t there will be a play-off against Coole”.

Moloney stated, “To keep playing at this standard we need to be playing in the Premier Division, it would have been lovely to have got to a final against Avenue but equally the only way we will get to that level and to Newmarket’s level is by getting here as often as we can”.

That objective of reaching the highest level will be aided by this season’s Cup run. “As much as Cup runs are great, unfortunately the club in 53 years have never got to a Cup final and it would have been great to get there this time but it is really about getting the standard up and we can only do that by playing in the Premier, that is our major focus, we’ll dust ourselves off and make sure we can take whatever positives and learnings we can out of the game”.

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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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