Venue: County Grounds, Doora.
Clare confirmed their place in the quarter-finals of the Oscar Traynor competition with a facile 4-0 win over an inferior Roscommon in their group game.
The margin of the win ensured Clare now top the group as they prepare for the knockout stages of the competition. From start to finish, the Banner men were by far the dominant side and never let their opponents put their own stamp on proceedings.
It was the dream start for Mick Shiel’s men as they took the lead with just three minutes played. A poor clearance from the Roscommon defence was capitalised on by central midfielder, Colin Smyth who ricocheted the ball to the back of Padraig Maloney’s net from the edge of the box.
Roscommon’s first scoring chance came with nine minutes played but striker David Grehan shot wide of the mark. Clare continued their dominance Shannon Olympic’s Garry Higgins posed problems for his Roscommon counterpart, he came close to creating an opportunity shortly after but his effort was blocked by Cormac Clogher and sent over the line for a corner.
Again Clare continued to pressurise Roscommon by forcing them to put in blocks and set piece after set piece followed. Newmarket Celtic’s Eoin Hayes was one of the main instigators in this regard and he got close to the target on more than one occasion in the opening twenty minutes.
Brian McGorrian was denied on the twenty second minute as Padraig Mahony saved comfortably. The Rossies put Clare on the backfoot for a spell but they failed to take advantage of any chances. A delivery from Darragh Concannon was spilled by John Mulready in the box, but Roscommon were too slow to react to make anything of it.
With twenty six minutes on the clock, Skyvalley Rovers man Jason Clogher almost equalised but his effort took a deflection before going out for a corner. The resulting corner was headed wide of the mark by centre half and captain Peter Keighery.
Whilst Clare let Roscommon have their chances for that three minute period, they came back into the tie hungry to put more goals on the board. A pass from David McCarthy fell perfectly to Brian McGorrian but the Shannon Olympic man failed to put his shot on target. Darren Cullinan saw his free sail wide on the twenty eight minute as no Clare man got a touch to the delivery from the left side of the field.
A Darryl Eade throw was expertly flicked on by McGorrian and came towards David McCarthy but last year’s skipper did not capitalise. Roscommon managed to put the ball past John Mulready with thirty two minutes gone but Ballinasloe Town’s Mark Duffy was correctly pulled for being offside.
An opportunistic attempt at a bicycle kick from Garry Higgins reaped no dividends when he got on the end of a Darren Cullinan free. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again, that’s exactly what Clare did, not with repeated bicycle kicks but they kept plugging away with chances. A pass from Brian McGorrian fell through to Eoin Hayes and his shot took a deflection off Mike Lynch and eluded Padraig Mahony to give Clare a two nil lead with thirty six minutes on the clock.
Mahony pulled off a save with forty minutes played to deny Garry Higgins getting on the scoresheet. The Rossies replied with efforts from Shane Duffy, Darragh Concannon and Danny Browne but none of the trio could find the back of the net, which left Clare two ahead at the half-time interval.
Injury forced Alan Kelly to retire at half-time and has replaced by namesake and clubmate Stephen Kelly. Frustration got to the Roscommon men as referee Terry Kennedy rightly dished out yellow cards to both Darragh Concannon and Shane Duffy with less than a minute played.
Eoin Hayes almost added to his tally after Garry Higgins intercepted the Roscommon defence and passed to Hayes but the Newmarket man could not hit the target this time round. Just like the first half, Clare got their second half off to an ideal start when David McCarthy put Clare three ahead with three minutes gone.
Darren Cullinan was the initial architect of the move as he passed down the line to Garry Higgins who drove the ball into his attackers where David McCarthy got a vital touch to ensure Roscommon did not dispossess Clare. Eoin Hayes got on the end of McCarthy’s flick and tore past two Roscommon defenders and gave an expert pass to McCarthy whose composed finish ensured it was game over.
This did not dent the desire of the Keith Higgins trained Clare outfit as they wanted to push on. Chances fell to Garry Higgins, David McCarthy and Stephen Kelly who all hit the target but none the back of the net. John Mulready was called upon with fourteen minutes to deny Mark Duffy from putting his side on the scoresheet.
Seventeen minutes into the second half and what came was the biggest sitter of the contest. Stephen Kelly found David McCarthy who crossed into the danger area towards Garry Higgins in front of an open goal but the Shannon Olympic man drove the ball over the crossbar.
The 2012 semi-finalists regrouped after Higgins’ miss and forced the Clare defence under pressure with three corners in the space of four minutes. However, the Banner defence remained solid and Roscommon could not convert any of their rare opportunities.
Possibly their best chance of the ninety minute fell to Ballaghaderreen FC’s Danny Browne but his effort was deflected over John Mulready’s crossbar. The resulting corner was comfortably caught by Mulready with thirty minutes on the clock. Clare had chances shortly after but Stephen Kelly and Paddy O’Malley failed to beat Roscommon netmider Padraig Mahony.
A volley from Brian McGorrian on the edge of the box went straight to the top right corner of the Roscommon net with forty three minutes played to put the icing on the cake for Clare and secure their place in the last eight of the Oscar Traynor Cup.
While December 21st is proven to be the shortest day of the year, Roscommon manager Enda Concannon had to endure possibly the longest ninety minutes of his life in a one-sided contest. There was a clear difference in class between the sides on the day as Roscommon never really got into the game. Digifone Park played host to this tie and there was a very strong breeze which Roscommon played with in the second half but failed to use as they had the wind taken out of their sails.
The one hundred percent record of Mick Shiel remains intact as Clare head towards the quarter-finals. Overall, Clare were not sufficiently tested in this affair. Nonetheless, they will learn from today; their indiscipline is a major cause for concern as they conceded seventeen frees over the ninety minutes. In the knockout stages they will be punished if this figure stays at this level.
However, the Banner completely dominated the aerial battle as Roscommon only won two of their kickouts all day, such was Clare’s strength in this sector. At the start of the year, the main objective for this side was to qualify from the group and now their next goal is to march on and win their quarter-final. Provided they do build on this performance, there is no reason to suggest why Clare won’t make the last four.
Roscommon keeper Padraig Mahony was not entirely to blame for the defeat but he will have to put in a lot more time on his kicking aspect of his game. At the back, Cormac Clogher did well but his comrades in defence were not so praiseworthy as they seemed shaky throughout.
At midfield, only Darragh Conannon created chances but overall they did not have any real presence in this sector. Shane Duffy played in front of midfield and just behind the lone striker and was one of Roscommon’s best. In order for a striker to say they had a good day at the office they must get on the scoresheet or create chances for others, David Grehan failed to do any of the above and therefore will not have fond memories of this outing.
Clare custodian, John Mulready goes home happy with a clean sheet, he did well when called upon but will see more of the ball the next day out. Right back, Darryl Eade was very composed and vocal throughout. In the centre Sean O’Callaghan did everything that was asked of him whilst Paddy Purcell played a captain’s role as he set the example through his performance. At left back, Darren Cullinan was very involved in the second half and had a part to play in the well-structured attacks.
Alan Kelly and Colin Smyth had a formidable partnership in the middle of the park, their passing was accurate and they threw themselves in for the ball on countless occasions. On the wings, Garry Higgins ran himself into the ground with his constant pressing of the Roscommon defence while Eoin Hayes looked dangerous throughout and should have been fed more of the ball. Up front, David McCarthy and Brian McGorrian got in one another’s way on more than one occasion but overall they had solid displays with both getting on the scoresheet.
Stephen Kelly made an impact from the bench when coming into the fray as he got stuck in from the get-go. Paddy O’Malley’s pace was vital as it came when both sides were tiring but he failed to take advantage of the chances that fell his way. Darragh Corry did not seem to put a foot wrong when introduced. Colin Smyth, Eoin Hayes, Garry Higgins, Darryl Eade and Paddy Purcell were most prominent over the ninety minutes.
Clare: John Mulready (Bridge United), Darryl Eade (Ennis Town), Paddy Purcell (Newmarket Celtic), Sean O’Callaghan (Ennis Town), Darren Cullinan (Newmarket Celtic), Eoin Hayes (Newmarket Celtic), Alan Kelly (Newmarket Celtic), Colin Smyth (Newmarket Celtic), Garry Higgins (Shannon Olympic), David McCarthy (Newmarket Celtic), Brian McGorrian (Shannon Olympic). Subs: Stephen Kelly (Newmarket Celtic) for A Kelly (H/T) (Inj), Paddy O’Malley (Avenue United) for Higgins (66:29), Darragh Corry (Tulla United) for McCarthy (71:30).
Roscommon: Padraig Mahony (Ballinasloe Town), Cormac Clogher (Skyvalley Rovers), Mike Lynch (Ballinasloe Town), Peter Keighery (Ballinasloe Town), Aidan Dooney (Ballinasloe Town), Mark Duffy (Ballinasloe Town), Darragh Concannon (Ballinasloe Town), Jason Clogher (Skyvalley Rovers), Danny Browne (Ballaghaderreen FC), Shane Duffy (Ballinasloe Town), David Grehan (Ballinasloe Town). Subs: Niall Cleary for Keighery (59:55), Jordan O’Leary (Ballinasloe Town) for M Duffy (63:23), Mark Richardson (Ballinasloe Town) for Grehan (71:50).
Referee: Terry Kennedy.