Depleted West no match for champs Clare in opening tie
Clare DSL 6
West Cork League 2
BY GER McCARTHY
A BRAVE West Cork League performance wasn’t enough to prevent defeat to defending Oscar Traynor Trophy champions Clare District Soccer League in Ennis last Saturday evening.
Richie Collins’ squad made the long trip to Frank Healy Park in Ennis minus a host of first team regulars. Injuries, work and GAA commitments as well as late withdrawals made a tough opening round tie even more difficult against a side going for their third Oscar Traynor Trophy in a row.
Including former All-Ireland hurling winner Colin Ryan (Newmarket Celtic) in their line-up, the home team also boasted recent Irish junior international squad call-up Eoin Hayes (Newmarket Celtic) amongst their ranks. As for their opponents, Drinagh Rangers’ Beamish Cup-winning JJ Collins, Barry (T) O’Driscoll, Jamie Walsh and Barry (H) O’Driscoll formed the spine of West Cork’s depleted starting XI.
Little surprise then that three-in-a-row chasing Clare proved too strong for a WCL selection that fell behind after only four minutes. Eoin Hayes broke the deadlock and Clare quickly doubled their advantage when David McCarthy set up Hayes for his second of the tie seven minutes later.
The 2016 and ‘17 Oscar Traynor Trophy winners rounded off a commanding opening quarter with Gary O’Connell finding the net to make it 3-0. To their credit, West Cork refused to let their heads drop and were beginning to make inroads when Clare converted for a fourth and decisive time on 34 minutes.
David McCarthy was on hand to finish to the net but the visitors continued to press and were rewarded with a deserved goal when Togher Celtic’s Johnny Kelly scored shortly before half time.
A closer second period in which the visitors enjoyed longer spells of possession saw the score remain unchanged until just after the hour mark when Clare replaced Eoin Hayes with Colin Scanlan. The substitute’s impact was immediate as he capitalsied on West Cork defensive mix-up to make it 5-1.
Once again West Cork dug deep and conjured up a second goal when Castletown Celtic’s Sean Crowley got his name on the scoresheet courtesy of a terrific individual effort and much to the delight of the West Cork bench. But there could be no denying Clare’s victory and the winners rounded off an excellent display with their sixth and final strike from Ciarán Monaghan two minutes from the end.
Based on this opening game, albeit against weakened opposition, the Clare District Soccer League appears poised for another tilt at a trophy they have dominated over the past 24 months. As for West Cork, a disappointing Oscar Traynor Trophy result does not end their 2017-18 inter-league campaign. A home tie against either Kerry or Limerick in the losers round awaits Richie Collins’ squad and another opportunity to prolong their interest in the national competition next month.
Clare District Soccer League: Barry Ryan (Avenue United), Stephen Carroll (Shannon Town), Dylan Casey (Avenue United), Eoin O’Brien (Newmarket Celtic), Stephen Kelly (Newmarket Celtic), Gary O’Connell (Shannon Town), Colin Smyth (Newmarket Celtic|), Colin Ryan (Newmarket Celtic), Eoin Hayes (Newmarket Celtic) Dave McCarthy (Newmarket Celtic) and Ian Collins (Newmarket Celtic).
Subs: Yarak Mamala (Coole FC), Simon Cuddy (Avenue United), Colin Scanlan (Shannon Town), Mark Roche (Avenue United), Ciarán Monahan (Sporting Ennistymon).
West Cork League: Donal Casey (Bantry Ray Rovers), Billy O’Brien (Riverside Athletic), JJ Collins (Drinagh Rangers), Barry (T) O’Driscoll (Drinagh Rangers), Tiarnán O’Driscoll (Riverside Athletic), Jamie Walsh (Drinagh Rangers), Sean Crowley (Castletown Celtic), Jack O’Callaghan (Castletown Celtic), David O’Halloran (Crookstown), Barry (H) O’Driscoll (Drinagh Rangers), Johnny Kelly (Togher Celtic).
Subs: Daniel McCarthy (Drinagh Rangers), Ian Jennings (Drinagh Rangers), Rob Oldham (Drinagh Rangers), Paul Hickey (Drinagh Rangers), David O’Brien (Togher Celtic), John Daly (Riverside Athletic).