Clare secured top spot in Group E of the Oscar Traynor when a Tommy McKeown goal earned them a share of the spoils against Roscommon.
Venue: Frank Healy Park.
Although they were second best for much of the contest Clare’s perseverance paid off as Tommy McKeown’s eighty second minute strike was enough to get the draw and more importantly a place in the quarter-finals.
Eoin Hayes had the first chance of the afternoon but the legs of goalkeeper Noel Fallon denied Clare from getting off to a fantastic start. Roscommon came close at the other end four minutes in but Barry Ryan got down well to avert any danger.
Hayes was causing trouble once more showing a sublime burst of pace to turnover Gary Canavan and had the Newmarket Celtic attacker pulled the ball across to Ian Collins the Banner County would have taken the lead on the eighth minute.
Peter Fennell had a chance to put the Rossies ahead on the twenty third minute. The winger was picked out well by a teammate and if he struck first time it looked like he’d have opened the scoring but instead he took too much out of the ball and made it easier for Barry Ryan to make the save.
Three minutes later they did take the lead. A free awarded for a Colin Smyth foul was taken in their own half and the Rossies won the aerial battle to leave a free Ronan Curran through on goal and he made no mistake in tapping the ball to the back of the Clare net.
Going into the game Roscommon could not afford to lose if they were to remain in the competition while Clare wanted to get a result to see them advance to the last eight. This is why at the start of the second half both teams came out all guns blazing however this didn’t result in a better half instead the opposite occurred.
Tulla Utd’s Niall Whelan saw his header go narrowly wide with forty eight minutes on the clock. Ethan Keogh had the best chance of the half but a fantastic save from Barry Ryan ensured the gap stayed at just one goal.
Like Roscommon’s goal the Clare equivalent came from a similar delivery. The difference being Niall Whelan managed to get a touch to the ball with his head which caused Noel Fallon to drop it and substitute Tommy McKeown slotted it to the back of the net. Moments later he had a chance to put Donie Garrihy’s side in front but his first touch let him down and allowed Fallon to sweep up possession.
Both teams were happy to settle for the draw and they opted to stay defensive in the final minutes.
Given the way the game was panning out Clare will be thrilled with the draw. However their display was below their standard and if they’re to be successful this season an improvement is definitely required. This game was a reminder of the work they need to do and fortunately for them they still managed to get a positive result.
Remarkably Clare’s Oscar Traynor team has remained unbeaten in 2016 and they should be proud of this achievement. There have been changes in personnel from the team that won this competition last season and it is evident to see that they are still gelling together and trying to find the right mix. Their aim at the beginning of the year was to reach to get out of the group, they’ve done that and now they must bring their performance up to that level. Barry Ryan, Eoin O’Brien, Niall Whelan, Eoin Hayes and Kaylan O’Loughlin impressed for Clare.
Roscommon know find themselves in the last sixteen. They arrived in Ennis keen to take a scalp, they almost did but switched off at a vital time and with only a one goal cushion they couldn’t afford to do that. Dan Hope, Enda Kenny and Dara Concannon did well for the Rossies.
Clare: Barry Ryan (Avenue Utd); Colin Smyth (Avenue Utd), Conor Mullan (Avenue Utd), Kaylan O’Loughlin (Avenue Utd), Eoin O’Brien (Newmarket Celtic); Ian Collins (Newmarket Celtic), Colin Ryan (Newmarket Celtic), Niall Whelan (Tulla Utd), Eoin Whelan (Tulla Utd); Eoin Hayes (Newmarket Celtic), David McCarthy (Newmarket Celtic). Subs: Brian Monaghan (Newmarket Celtic) for Collins (64), Tommy McKeown (Tulla Utd) for McCarthy (79).
Roscommon; Noel Fallon; Gary Canavan, Jack Higgins, Enda Kenny, Joe Woods; Dominick Bluagh, Dan Hope, Ronan Curran, Peter Fennell, Dara Concannon, Andy Neville. Subs: Gregory Grogan for Higgins (54), Ethan Keogh for Fennell (68), Alan Daffy for Curran (82), Andy Higgins for Neville (85).
Referee: Pa Gleeson
All photos by Oliver Fitzpatrick