While just a solitary point separated the sides in the finish, Clonguish were the better team as they scored a well deserved win over Killoe Emmet Og at Allen Park on Friday evening last.
With Mickey Graham from Cavan back in charge, Clonguish have made a strong start to the season with full points from their three games played so far in Division 1 of the All County Football League and are shaping up well.
Killoe, on the other hand, have failed to register a win in the current league campaign but were missing a lot of regulars for the clash against Clonguish and their chief marksman Sean McCormack, in particular, was sorely missed.
The county player was ruled out as he recovers from injury and Sean would obviously have made a big difference had he been fit to play. Tommy McCormack’s Killoe squad will be a different proposition when it comes down to the serious business of the championship in the summer.
Clonguish were also understrength on this occasion with Paddy Dowd, Darren Quinn and County U-21 defender Stephen McLoughlin all missing and the return of Mickey Graham is making the desired impact.
Graham was the manager when Clonguish last reached the county final in 2011, losing out by a point against Longford Slashers in the title decider, and the men in green will be hoping to be in the shake-up for the Connolly Cup this year.
At the moment Clonguish are top of the Division 1 league table but almost let victory slip from their grasp as Killoe closed the gap to the minimum of margins (0-11 to 1-7) when Darragh Bennett converted a penalty for a badly needed goal in the 56th minute.
But the home side refused to panic as they came storming back to fire over three points in a row through Joe O’Brien (his sixth score), Ciaran Williams and Shane O’Brien - a terrific strike from the wing back - while Kevin Burke squandered a glorious chance of a goal.
There was still a glimmer of hope for Emmet Og when Daniel Minnagh found the back of the Clonguish net in the sixth minute of stoppage time, his well struck shot deflected off the underside of the crossbar, but Clonguish held on to clock up their third victory on the trot. Enda Williams at centre-half-back and David Barden at centrefield were the main driving force for the winners, with the sharp full-forward-line of Darren Carberry, Joe O’Brien and Ciaran Williams also figuring prominently in registering a total of ten points between them.
Killoe were only a point behind at the break, 0-6 to 0-5, and were guilty of kicking a few bad wides in the closing stages of the first half along with a goal attempt from Darragh Bennett whose shot was saved by opposing keeper Stephen Watters.
Having said that, Clonguish were most unlucky not to get a goal in the 27th minute when Stephen Norton hit the crossbar. Three of their six points in the first half came from Joe O’Brien (one from play) while Darren Carberry, Paul Barden and Ciaran Williams were also on target.
Michael Quinn (2), Paddy Kiernan, Denis McGoldrick (free) and Mark Hughes accounted for the Killoe scores but they struggled in the second half as Clonguish clearly had the better of the exchanges.
David Barden played particularly well at centrefield as the home side established a comfortable 0-11 to 0-7 advantage by the 49th minute thanks to points from Paul Barden, Joe O’Brien (two frees), David Barden and Darren Carberry with Killoe restricted to just a couple of scores through Mark Hughes (free) and Michael Quinn.
The penalty goal from Darragh Bennett ensured an exciting finish as Killoe looked like they might avoid a first defeat this season after drawing their previous two fixtures against Dromard and Slashers but Clonguish kept their composure to eventually emerge worthy winners.
CLONGUISH: Stephen Watters; Ciaran Corcoran, Brendan Burke, Brendan Devine; Conor Shields, Enda Williams, Shane O’Brien (0-1); David Barden (0-1), David Faughnan; Kevin Burke, Paul Barden (0-2), Stephen Norton; Darren Carberry (0-2), Joe O’Brien (0-6, five frees), Ciaran Williams (0-2).
Sub:- Padraig Cooney for B Devine (injured, 43 mins).
KILLOE EMMET OG: Cillian Burns; Cian Farrelly, Darragh Bennett (1-0, penalty), Aidan Brady; Damien Bratten, Joe McCormack, Ronan Keogh; Paddy Kiernan (0-1), Michael Quinn (0-3); Denis McGoldrick (0-1, free), Ronan McGoldrick, Tommy Reilly; Daniel Mimnagh (1-0), Simon Kiernan, Mark Hughes (0-2, one free).
Subs:- Shane Clarke for T Reilly (24 mins); Emmet Toher for J McCormack (injured, 52 mins); Liam Hughes for R Keogh (56 mins).
Referee: Patrick Maguire
(St. Mary’s Granard).