A highly charged Clonguish side were really fired up in gaining some measure of revenge for their slender defeat in the senior championship decider when they scored a most emphatic win over Longford Slashers in the All County Football League Division 1 Final in front of a small crowd at wet and windy Pearse Park on Sunday last.
Clonguish 2-10, Longford Slashers 1-5
While the county champions were guilty of some very poor finishing, kicking a total of 13 wides as compared to just 4 for the opposition, the greater hunger was shown by a sharper Clonguish outfit in their quest for some silverware this season and Slashers were in serious trouble at the break when they trailed by a staggering ten points, 2-6 to 0-2.
Clonguish made very good use of the scoring chances that came their way in the first half (shooting just a solitary wide) and particularly impressive was Paul Barden who blasted a cracking strike into the back of the net in the 7th minute after receiving the perfect pass from Ciaran Williams who also figured very prominently up front.
Outstanding wing back Kevin Burke was also involved in this sweeping move and it was the gutsy ‘gooch’ who set up corner-forward Williams for another excellent goal in the 24th minute, at which stage rampant Clonguish (with the advantage of the wind) had built up a commanding 2-5 to 0-1 lead with their points coming from C Williams, Brendan Devine, Joe O’Brien (a brilliant effort), Paddy Dowd (free) and P Barden.
It was rude awakening for a Slashers side currently preparing for the Leinster Club Championship and they had to wait until the 21st minute for their opening score - a well struck effort from Mark Smith after the sky-blues squandered several chances in the early stages of what eventually developed into a rather one-sided encounter.
Smith returned to the first fifteen after a lengthy injury absence and he ended up scoring all five points (three frees) for a very disappointing Slashers team who will certainly want to forget this game in a hurry as they now turn their attention to the Leader Cup and the strong possibility of another showdown against Clonguish in the Senior League decider on Sunday October 30th.
Whatever hopes the townies had of getting back into contention were virtually dashed when the clean through Martin Nevin missed a great chance of a goal in the 25th minute after his close range shot was well saved by opposing keeper Stephen Watters and the Clonguish No. 1 came to the rescue again moments later when keeping out a flick by Nevin that might well have found the back of the net.
A point apiece were exchanged in the closing stages of the first half through Mark Smith and Paddy Dowd (free) and while Slashers now had the wind in their favour on the changeover, the damage was already done as Clonguish were in no mood to let the league title slip from their grasp.
Eight minutes into the second half, the lead was extended when Ciaran Williams shot over the bar and while Mark Smith converted a free for Slashers in the 43rd minute the action quickly switched to the other end of the pitch with Paul Barden landing a truly inspirational point.
Niall Mulligan grabbed a consolation goal for Slashers in the 49th minute and the sides shared four points during the remainder of the game – Joe O’Brien and Colin Clarke were on target for Clonguish while Mark Smith fired over a couple of frees for the Connolly Cup winners who were brought crashing back down to earth on this occasion.
CLONGUISH: Stephen Watters; Brendan Burke, Anthony Watters, John O’Brien; Padraig Cooney, Enda Williams, Kevin Burke; David Barden, David Faughnan; Brendan Devine (0-1), Paddy Dowd (0-2, frees), Paul Barden (1-2); Ciaran Williams (1-2), Joe O’Brien (0-2), Colin Clarke (0-1).
Sub:- Niall O’Reilly for C Clarke (56 mins).
LONGFORD SLASHERS: Colm Farrell; Ruairi Barrins, Barry Gilleran, Gareth Ghee; Peter Brady, Dermot Brady, Conor Clarke; Niall Mulligan (1-0), David Sheridan; Stephen Phillips, Colin Smith, Trevor Clendenning; Mark Smith (0-5, three frees), Paul Kelly, Martin Nevin.
Subs:- Adrian Murphy for S Phillips (28 mins); Brian Farrell for C Clarke (28 mins); Martin Tarmey for C Smith (49 mins); Philip Dobson for M Nevin (52 mins); Sean Flynn for R Barrins (60 mins).
Referee: Patrick Maguire (Granard St. Mary’s).