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01 Dec 2021

Clara saunter into final as Duffy heroics save Walsh Island from complete annihilation

Clara saunter into final as Duffy heroics save Walsh Island from complete annihilation

Graham Guilfoyle had a good game for Clara.

IT was little more than shooting practice for Clara as they coasted into the Senior “B” Football Championship final with a very comfortable win over a completely outclassed Walsh Island in O'Connor Park on Saturday afternoon.

Tullamore Court Hotel Senior “B” Football Championship semi-final

Clara 2-22
Walsh Island 1-4

Championship favourites from the start of the season, Clara looked good on the day, fielding a winning mixture of young talent with vastly experienced war horses and their safe passage to the final was never in doubt.

Indeed, it could have been a whole lot worse for Walsh Island and the big mystery of this game was how Clara only scored two goals. A mixture of heroic goalkeeping from Walsh Island's Ian Duffy and very faulty finishing by the Clara forwards saved the losers from total annihilation. On a different day, Clara might have got into double figures with goals and they certainly should have got a half dozen.

They won't be too perturbed about this as they prepare for a final against Ballycumber or Tubber, though they will need to be more clinical against the tougher opposition that will come in the final.

Clara were particularly wasteful in front of goal in the first half. They carved a very mediocre Walsh Island defence open time and time again but didn't take advantage. Duffy made a few top class saves while Clara blasted wide with the goal at their mercy, lofted balls over the bar with the net beckoning and hit the woodwork.

It meant that Clara's 1-8 to 0-4 half time lead in no way reflected the trend of play. Indeed, Walsh Island were delighted to be that close at the break, considering how far off the pace they had been.

Clara's goal came from the boot of David Fleming in the first minute and the winners spurned a series of great opportunities after that. Colm Doyle, David Fleming, Ed Cullen, Ross Brady and Josh Fleming were all guilty as Walsh Island lived on their wits.

In fairness to Walsh Island, they tried very hard in the first half. They worked hard and tried to stem the tide. They were 1-2 to 0-2 behind after seven minutes but three on the trot pushed Clara 1-5 to 0-2 clear by the 14th minute and even at this early stage, no one in O'Connor Park had any doubt about what way this result was going to go.

It continued in the same way in the second half, though Clara resisted the urge to go for goals to the same extent as the first half. There is no doubt that they could have created the chances, whatever about finishing them but they were happy for the most part to tap over easy points. They did have goal chances with David Fleming hitting the post and Ross Brady and Cormac Delaney pointing when they could have found the net.

However, the points at least flowed over and they had 1-16 on the board before Willie Mulhall got Walsh Island's only second half score, a 43rd minute goal after a neat lay off from Sean McCloskey. Clara continued to dominate after this and they did breach Ian Duffy's goal once more with sub Pa Smith getting a 56th minute goal after Ross Brady's shot had been saved.

Despite the very poor finishing with goal chances, it was a very composed, very professional performance by Clara. They controlled all sectors, were much fitter than their opponents and they moved very well – with Colm Doyle, Carl Stewart, Graham Guilfoyle, Thomas Deehan, Josh Fleming, Ed Cullen, Ross Brady and David Fleming among the players who caught the eye.

It was a disspiriting defeat for Walsh Island, who took to the field without the suspended Colm Gavin and John Doyle, Even with a full strength team at their disposal, however, it is hard to escape the impression that Walsh Island would have been like lambs to the slaughter. Alan Mulhall and Willie Mulhall were among their better players but it was a day to forget for Walsh Island.

MATCH ANALYSIS

THE SCORERS

Clara: Ross Brady 0-7 (5f), David Fleming and Pa Smith 1-2 each, Josh Fleming 0-4, Cormac Delaney 0-3 (1f and 1 '45'), Colm Doyle 0-2, Graham Guilfoyle and Thomas Deehan 0-1 each.

Walsh Island: Willie Mulhall 1-2 (1f), Alan Mulhall 0-2 (1f).

THE TEAMS

CLARA: Joey Deehan; Ciaran Ennis, Ciaran Doyle, Cathal O'Meara; Colm Doyle, Carl Stewart, Lorcan Hiney; Graham Guilfoyle, Scott Brady; Cormac Delaney, Thomas Deehan, Ed Cullen; Josh Fleming, Ross Brady, David Fleming. Subs – Alex Egan for Scott Brady, inj. (12m), Pa Smith for Deehan (36m), David Falsey for Alex Egan, inj. (39m), Conor Egan for Hiney (41m).

WALSH ISLAND: Ian Duffy; James Gallagher, Evin Galvin, Rory Connolly; Rory Galvin, Thomas Brereton, Dylan Mahon; Thomas O'Connor, Emmet McKenna; Reece Cuddihy, Willie Mulhall, Sean McCloskety; Oisin Murphy, Alan Mulhall, Dean Murphy. Subs – Barry Duffy for McKenna, inj. (11m), Adam Duffy for Mahon (49m), Jack Duffy for Cuddihy (58m), Lee Cuddihy for Dean Murphy (58m), Luke McCloskey for Willie Mulhall (58m).

Referee – Fergal Smyth (Kilclonfert).

MAN OF THE MATCH

Ian Duffy (Walsh Island): Ian Duffy's saves prevented Walsh Island from a really humiliating experience. On a day when his defence offered very limited protection, he was the busiest man on the field in the first half and made a handful of excellent saves.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

This game was effectively over in the first minute when David Fleming got in for a Clara goal.

REFEREE WATCH

Fergal Smyth had a very solid game. It was easy to referee and he was not a factor at all. He was a bit late blowing the water breaks – the 19th minute in the first half and the 18th minute in the second half and these probably should be blown a bit earlier.

TALKING POINT

The limited resistance by Wals Island. Indiscipline that cost Walsh Island at the end of their win over St Rynagh's in the quarter-final. Walsh Island had their semi-final booked when key midfielder Colm Gavin and forward John Doyle saw red in an ugly late melee. With a full strength side, Walsh Island would have been big underdogs here and they simply couldn't afford to be down two players like this but even that doesn't explain the scale of this defeat and Walsh Island must have played above themselves to reach this stage.

VENUE WATCH

This was the first match in a busy weekend for O'Connor Park and as expected, the pitch was excellent.

WHAT'S NEXT

Clara play Tubber or Ballycumber in the final.

STATISTICS

Wides: Clara – 11 ( in first half); Walsh Island – 6 (1 in first half).

Yellow cards: Clara - 2 (Colm Doyle and Ed Cullen); Walsh Island – 2 (Evin Galvin and William Mulhall).

Black cards: 0.

Red cards: 0.

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