While Clonguish clinched a semi-final spot in the Senior Football Championship in earning another crack at Longford Slashers, it took them quite some time to assert their superiority over Fr. Manning Gaels before eventually winning by four points but a serious cause of concern is the injury sustained by Paul Barden during the course of the first half.
The county captain was clearly hampered by what appeared to be a groin strain which eventually forced him to retire in the 26th minute of the floodlit quarter-final replay at Emmet Park in Killoe on Friday night last and at this stage Barden must be considered extremely doubtful for the last four showdown against Slashers on Sunday next.
There was some good news for Clonguish in that Kevin Burke was back in action after suffering the misfortune of banging his head against the post in the drawn encounter at Pearse Park the previous weekend and while he looked lively in the full-forward-line the scores were slow to materialise for last year’s beaten finalists who were guilty of kicking a total of 13 wides in the game.
Fr. Manning Gaels made the better start with early points from Diarmuid Cooney (free) and Padraig Gill, who blasted the ball over the bar when a goal was on, but Clonguish eventually got their act together in hitting back with three scores on the trot through Joe O’Brien (a fine long range strike), wing back Danny Keenan and Paddy Dowd (free).
The Gaels regained the lead with a brace of scores in quick succession from their dangerman Padraig Gill, the second an excellent effort in the 16th minute, and it remained that way until the 25th minute when David Barden landed a long range point.
The ding-dong battle continued when Diarmuid Cooney was on target from a tight angle in the 29th minute to put the Drumlish/Ballinamuck outfit back in front but Clonguish had the last say in the first half when Paddy Dowd converted a free in the second minute of stoppage time to leave the sides all square at the break, 0-5 to 0-5.
But David Barden then decided to step up another gear in grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck as he fired over two cracking points and then Joe O’Brien had a goal attempt saved by the opposing keeper Paddy Collum before Clonguish increased their advantage with a fisted point from lively wing forward Stephen McLoughlin midway through the second half.
David Barden was particularly impressive as Clonguish established a tight grip on the game and went further ahead when David Faughnan landed a well struck point in the 50th minute. The Gaels were making little impact against a resolute opposing defence with centre-half-back Enda Williams a commanding figure while corner-backs Anthony Watters and Brendan Devine were also very prominent.
Watters made a vital block in dealing with a goal attempt from Kevin Whelan in the 51st minute and moments later the Gaels got their only score of the second half when Padraig Gill shot over the bar to land his fourth point.
Leading by 0-9 to 0-6 as the poor finishing continued, Clonguish were reduced to 14 players when Joe O’Brien was sent-off after receiving a second yellow card in the 60th minute but they made absolutely certain of the victory when Anthony Watters stepped forward to land a terrific long range point in stoppage time.
CLONGUISH: Mikie McGuinness; Anthony Watters (0-1), Brendan Burke, Brendan Devine; Padraig Cooney, Enda Williams, Danny Keenan (0-1); Paddy Dowd (0-2, frees), David Faughnan (0-1); Stephen McLoughlin (0-1), Paul Barden, David Barden (0-3); Eoin Keane, Kevin Burke, Joe O’Brien (0-1).
Subs:- Stephen Norton for P Barden (injured, 26 mins); Colin Clarke for E Keane (43 mins).
FR. MANNING GAELS: Paddy Collum; John Paul Farrelly, Cian Brady, Brian Collum; Mark Duffy, Dylan Quinn, Ciaran Cooney; Johnny Kane, Fergal Reilly; Darren Farrelly, Padraig Gill (0-4), Sean Diffley; Michael Kane, Diarmuid Cooney (0-2, one free), Kevin Whelan.
Subs:- John Fitzpatrick for C Cooney (43 mins); Emmet Noonan for D Farrelly (53 mins).
Referee: Ger Carberry (Killoe Young Emmets).