23 Jan 2022

Offaly champions through to Leinster Final after hard earned victory

Clara through to Leinster Final after hard earned victory

Josh Fleming scored Clara's goal against Kilcock.

CLARA eked out a very hard earned two point victory over a gallant Kilcock side in a very competitive Leinster Intermediate Club football semi-final at O'Connor Park, Tullamore on Saturday.

AIB Leinster Intermediate Football semi-final


The Offaly side just about had the edge throughout but they were unable to relax at any stage and were hanging on grimly to a one point lead in injury time as Kilcock attacked in waves before they broke out and Pa Smith popped over a point to seal the victory.

Clara were certainly made to work hard for this win as Kilcock pushed them all the way but they showed great resilience in resisting the challenge and showed great discipline and good defensive qualities in those closing minutes when Kilcock were pushing hard for an equaliser.

Clara got a great start and were 1-1 to 0-0 up after just three minutes but Kilcock hit back and were level after nine minutes. The sides were still level at the water break and were level for the third and final time in the 25th minute before a David Fleming point gave Clara a 1-5 to 1-4 half time lead.

Clara had much the better of the third quarter but only managed to add two points to their total while holding Kilcock scoreless. The Kildare side got their first score of the second half in the 48th minute but Clara were three points up again with five minutes left. Two Kilcock points cut the gap to the minimum with the game jsut entering four minutes of injury time but Clara withstood the pressure and added that late Pa Smith point to seal their place in the Leinster Final.

Clara can now look forward to a Leinster Final against Trim in the new year but they would have been kicking themselves if they had let this game slip from their grasp. They got that great start with the wind behind them but didn't build on it and kicked five wides in the first quarter alone. Their accuracy improved after that and they only added two more wides in the remainder of the game but they failed to take a number of good scoring opportunities. A couple of close range frees in the second half were dropped short while they went for goals on a couple of other occasions in the second half when points were there for the taking and could have put a four point gap between the sides and given them a psychological edge.

Kilcock came back well after that poor start and showed a lot of cohesion in their attacks. They looked sharp as they fought their way back into the game but then found it harder to find the target against a good Clara defence. Their first wide didn't come until the 18th minute but they became more wasteful after that and ended up with nine wides.

Clara regrouped at half time and were the dominant team for the third quarter and should have pushed further ahead than a three point margin, which kept Kilcock in touch, and it looked at one stage as if they might rue those missed chances. Kilcock came with renewed vigour in the latter stages but credit to Clara for an excellent defensive effort and there was as much relief as jubilation when the final whistle went.

Joey Deehan made one excellent save at a vital time in the first half, while Ciaran Doyle, Colm Doyle and John Ledwith did well in defence. Graham Guilfoyle and Carl Stewart both had good moments at midfield without dominating while in attack Josh Fleming, David Fleming and Edward Cullen did well.

Mark Durkan, Jason Gibbons and Sean Maguire did well for Kilcock, Shane Farrell and Cormac Divilly were a strong midfield partnership, while Findlay Nairn, Shane O'Rourke and Darren Acton performed well in attack.

Clara made two changes from their named team with Edward Cullen and David Freeman replacing Ross Brady and Thomas Deehan. They started well and a high ball from Graham Guilfoyle came off the fingers of Ciaran Heneghan and the crossbar and the ball was bundled out for a '45' which Cormac Delaney pointed. Ciaran Heneghan tried to find David Duke with a quick kick out but it was intercepted by David Falsey, who slipped the ball to Josh Fleming and he shot low to the net.

Darren Acton got the first point for Kilcock after seven minutes and two minutes later John Ledwith intercepted a Kilcock attack but under pressure lost possession and Findlay Nairn fired the loose ball to the net. Conor Egan put Clara back in front but Shane Farrell levelled and it was 1-2 each at the water break. David Fleming got two quick points for Clara but Kilcock hit back through Chris McCarthy and Shane O'Rourke before another David Fleming point restored Clara's lead. Kilcock had a great chance of a second goal after 28 minutes but Joey Deehan made a terrific low save.

Colm Doyle burst forward to get the first score of the second half and Josh Fleming added another after six minutes but there were no further scores for 11 minutes when Jason Gibbons got Kilcock's first score of the half to leave it 1-7 to 1-5 at the water break. Graham Guilfoyle kicked a good point to restore the three point lead but Shane O'Rourke (free) and Darragh McArdle cut the lead to one as the game went into injury time. In the dying seconds Clara broke out of defence and Pa Smith kicked a point to give Clara a two point winning margin.



CLARA: Joey Deehan; Aaron Ngo, Ciaran Doyle, Cathal O'Meara; Lorcan Hiney, John Ledwith, Colm Doyle; Carl Stewart, Graham Guilfoyle; Conor Egan, Edward Cullen, David Falsey; David Fleming, Josh Fleming, Cormac Delaney. Subs. Matthew Mitchell (for Conor Egan, 40 mins), Seamus O'Brien (for Aaron Ngo, 42 mins), Scott Brady (for Cormac Delaney, 48 mins), Pa Smith (for David Fleming, 51 mins), Adam Kelly (for David Falsey, 57 mins).

KILCOCK: Ciaran Heneghan; Johnny Sullivan, Mark Durkan, Sean Eves; Jason Gibbons, Sean Maguire, David Duke; Shane Farrell, Cormac Divilly; Eoin McArdle, Luke Sheridan, Chris McCarthy; Shane O'Rourke, Darren Acton, Findlay Nairn. Subs. Brendan Gibbons (for David Duke, 38 mins), Darragh McArdle (for Eoin McArdle, 38 mins), Eoghan Mulhall (for Chris McCarthy, 42 mins), Paul O'Brien (for Darren Acton, 55 mins), Sean Sullivan (for Sean Maguire, 61 mins).

REFEREE: Patrick Coyle (Meath).


Clara captain Colm Doyle led by example. He frequently burst forward to join the attack, got one point and had another shot deflected out for a '45'. He was also strong in defence and made one very important interception in the closing minutes to break up a Kilcock attack.


Joey Deehan's save two minutes before half time was a crucial moment. Kilcock's best period of the game was in that second quarter and a goal at that stage would have given them a lead at half time and would have been a blow to Clara. A slick move fed the ball to Findlay Nairn and he shot low with his left but Joey Deehan got down to make a terrific stop with his left hand and the follow up effort from Luke Sheridan was also blocked down. It kept Clara ahead at half time in a never in which they were never behind.


Patrick Coyle was a very efficient referee. He applied the rules well, penalising both teams for fouls well off the ball, overcarrying, and he was consistent throughout. He let the game flow well and overall did a very good job.


Clara keep their season alive but they made hard work of it. They had chances to put the game beyond Kilcock's reach in the third quarter but didn't do it and they will need to convert those chances if they are to claim provincial glory.



Clara advance to the Leinster Final where they will meet Meath's Trim early in the new year.


On a foggy cool December day, O'Connor Park was in very good condition. The surface was very good for the time of year and allowed for a good game of football.


Wides; Clara 7 (6 in first half) Kilcock 9 (4 in first half)

Yellow Cards: Clara 0 Kilcock 2 (Jason Gibbons, Eoghan Mulhall)

Black Cards: Clara 0 Kilcock 1 (Sean Maguire)

Red Cards: None

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.