Joe O'Brien on the ball for Clonguish but closing in to challenge is Abbeylara defender Barry Smyth. Action from the Senior Football Championship Group 2 game at Maguire Park. Photo: Declan Gilmore
Paul Barden’s goal in the 20th minute proved the difference as Clonguish defeated Abbeylara in the Senior Football Championship Group 2 clash at Maguire Park, Ballinalee on Sunday evening last.
Clonguish . . . 1-12 Abbeylara . . . 0-14
The saying is ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’ rings true for Barden because during this game he showed his class. His play on and off the ball showed what a superb player he is and how vital he is for Clonguish.
It was a solid performance from Clonguish who had good performers throughout with Paddy Dowd and Peter Hanley dominating around the middle of the park while Dowd was also great from frees. The boost for Clonguish was the return of Joe O’Brien and Kevin Burke; two important players who were back in action after injury.
Already qualified Abbeylara didn’t play as well as they know they can but Cian Brady and PJ Masterson did very well in defence along with their keeper Gavin Kelly who produced some fine saves.
Once again Robbie Smyth was their main man with nine points to his credit while Russell Brady and Padraig Berry did well when they were introduced.
Despite going behind to two early points, Clonguish took a hold of the game and kicked four points in a row to go two ahead; Joe O’Brien with three fine points and a great score from Paddy Dowd.
Two points from Robbie Smyth drew Abbeylara level in the 17th minute but Clonguish went ahead again in the 20th minute when Ciaran Williams set up Paul Barden who made no mistake in firing the ball to the net.
Paddy Dowd kicked over two fine points (one free) while Robbie Smyth and Kieran Mulvihill were on target for Abbeylara before Smyth kicked over a free just before the break to leave two in it, 1-6 to 0-7.
Clonguish made a terrific start to the second half and had extended their lead to six points by the 43rd minute. Paddy Dowd and Joe O’Brien kicked over frees while the Barden brothers Paul and David were on target with two excellent points.
After going 15 minutes without a score Robbie Smyth kicked over a free for Abbeylara midway through the second half and he added another soon after. Clonguish were able to keep ahead and Abbeylara conceded a free which was converted by Dowd.
In a strong five minute spell Abbeylara dominated and cut the gap to two by the 55th minute. In a nice move PJ Masterson pointed; Kieran Mulvihill kicked over another point while Robbie Smyth was on target again from a free.
Paddy Dowd then fired over his sixth point in the 58th minute and that was Clonguish’s final score of the game as Abbeylara finished strongly but just couldn’t snatch the draw.
Full-back James McEntire kicked over a good point to leave two between the sides in the 59th minute and then Jason Kelly converted a free in the 60th minute. Just before the final whistle they had a chance for the equaliser but Robbie Smyth was unlucky with a free from distance as Clonguish held on for a narrow victory but Abbeylara finished top of the group courtesy of their superior scores difference.
CLONGUISH: Stephen Watters; Gerry Moore, Anthony Watters, Brendan Devine; Ronan Sweeney, Stephen McLoughlin, Neil Devlin; Peter Hanley, Paddy Dowd (0-6, five frees); Chris Gordon, Paul Barden (1-1), Darren Quinn; Ciaran Williams, David Barden (0-1), Joe O’Brien (0-4, one free).
Subs:- Kevin Burke for C Gordon (37 mins); Stephen Norton for N Devlin (37 mins).
ABBEYLARA: Gavin Kelly; Cormac Smyth, James McEntire (0-1), Barry Smyth; Cian Brady, Michael McHugh, PJ Masterson (0-1); Derek Smith, Fergal Battrim; Jason Kelly (0-1, free), Colm P Smyth, Nigel Rabbitte; Robbie Smyth (0-9, seven frees), Conor Berry, Kieran Mulvihill (0-2).
Subs:- Brian Smyth for Cormac Smyth (injured, 21 mins); Russell Brady for D Smith (42 mins); Padraig Berry for N Rabbitte (48 mins).
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Ballymahon).