A first half goal from Stephen Norton gave Clonguish the edge over Longford Slashers in Round 2 of the Senior Football Championship at Maguire Park, Ballinalee on Sunday evening last.
Clonguish were full value for their win and apart from a bright start to the second half from Slashers, the Newtownforbes side were rarely troubled. There were several good performances for Clonguish in this vital victory with Enda Williams immense throughout.
After losing narrowly to Dromard in Round 1, the pressure was on Clonguish to collect the two points in the group stage of the championship and they duly delivered the goods to put themselves in a much better position to reach the quarter-finals.
Slashers made a bright start to the game and were 0-3 to 0-1 up within the opening 12 minutes with points from Niall Mulligan and Colin Smith (two) while the Clonguish point came from Kevin Burke in the 6th minute.
Mickey Graham’s side slowly began to get into the game. Wing-back Conor Shields went on a good run in the 13th minute but was thwarted by good defending by Adrian Duffy. It was a warning for Slashers that unfortunately they did not heed because one minute later Clonguish got a goal; Joe O’Brien with a good pass to Stephen Norton and he made no mistake in finding the back of the net to put Clonguish in front and that is where they stayed.
David Barden followed up with a point but the lead was back to one when Colin Smith pointed a free in the 21st minute. Clonguish then enjoyed a dominant spell that yielded four points in a row - two frees from Joe O’Brien and excellent scores from David and Paul Barden.
In first half stoppage time Andrew Dalton got a point for Slashers to leave them trailing by four at the break, 1-6 to 0-5.
The county champions started the second half well and within the opening minute substitute Mark Smith pointed a free after he had been fouled and Peter Foy then hit over a point to cut the lead. After over 10 minutes without a score, Paul Barden went through and put Clonguish in front by three in the 44th minute.
It was a five point game with Paul Barden firing over another excellent score after some good play from Enda Williams and substitute Paddy Dowd following up with a good point.
Slashers weren’t finished and two Colin Smith frees and a good score from his brother Mark cut the gap to two by the 53rd minute but Clonguish finished strong with frees from Paddy Dowd and a brace from Joe O’Brien, including a fanastic long range effort.
Peter Foy got the last score of the game for Slashers in the closing stages and team manager Denis Connerton will be disappointed with this display in the battle to qualify for the knock-out stages of the senior championship.
CLONGUISH: Stephen Watters; Brendan Burke, Ronan Sweeney, Ciaran Corcoran; Stephen McLoughlin, Enda Williams, Conor Shields; David Barden (0-2), Padraig Cooney; Stephen Norton (1-0), Paul Barden (0-3), Shane O’Brien; Joe O’Brien (0-4, 4f), Ciaran Williams, Kevin Burke (0-1).
Subs:- David Faughnan for P Cooney (injured, 30 mins); Paddy Dowd (0-2, 1f) for S O’Brien (half-time); Paddy Corcoran for J O’Brien (black card, 60 mins).
LONGFORD SLASHERS: Colin Farrell; Adrian Duffy, Barry Gilleran, Gareth Ghee; Peter Brady, Dermot Brady, Andrew Dalton (0-1); Niall Mulligan (0-1), David Sheridan; Martin Tarmey, Colin Smith (0-5, 3f), Stephen Phillips; Martin Nevin, Peter Foy (0-2), Tom Madden.
Subs:- Mark Smith (0-2, 1f) for M Tarmey (half-time); Shane Rogers for P Brady (injured, 46 mins); Niall Kelly for S Phillips (50 mins).
Referee: Patrick Maguire
(St. Mary’s Granard).