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27 Nov 2021

Clara lay down marker in Leinster club championship

Clara lay down marker in Leinster club championship

Clara's Josh Fleming

A couple of goals from Clara corner-forward Josh Fleming in the closing stages of the first half shattered the underdogs Killashee in the Leinster Club Intermediate Football Championship first round clash at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday

AIB Leinster Club Intermediate Football Championship First Round

Clara 6-10
St Brigid’s Killashee 0-7

What was always going to be an extremely difficult task against stronger opponents became a mission impossible when St Brigid’s were reduced to 13 players in the first quarter of the game with captain Michael Farrell receiving a straight red card in the opening minute.

The linesmen intervened again to consult with the Meath referee Patrick Coyle after Francie Dolan suffered the same fate when he was sent-off in the 15th minute but remarkably it was the two-in-a-row Longford Intermediate champions who led by 0-3 to 0-2 at the first water break. 

But from the moment Fleming flicked the ball to the net for the first Clara goal in the 21st minute, the writing was on the wall for Killashee who conceded another 1-3 in quick succession as the visitors established a commanding 2-5 to 0-3 advantage.  

While Clara lost a player when Edward Cullen was branded with a straight red card in first half stoppage time, it mattered little to the eventual outcome and the Offaly Senior ‘B’ champions scored four more goals in the second half to run out very easy winners. Having been relegated from senior in 2020 and bouncing back instantly this year, Clara should be very strong at this levekl with good prospects of taking the provincial title.

They will also be hungry to keep their season going and this showed in a very efficient, professional and fast moving display.

St Brigid’s boss Ray Curley was forced to make three changes from the team that started in the 2021 county final against Ballymahon with Darren Cosgrove, Quintan Lee and David Buckley all unable to feature in the Leinster clash against Clara while Chris Dineen was another notable absentee.

It all went wrong for Killashee, starting with the harsh decision to dismiss influential midfielder Michael Farrell with just a minute gone on the clock in what was a real sickening blow. 

To their great credit, St Brigid’s (wearing the Longford jerseys due to a clash of colours) hit back with a point apiece from Mel Shanley and Dylan Farrell before Clara got their act together to level matters with scores from defender Cathal O’Meara and full-forward Ross Brady.

After Francie Dolan (red card) was sent-off midway through the first half, Dylan Farrell weaved his way through the Clara defence to land a terrific point under considerable pressure in the 17th minute but that was as good as it got for Killashee.

Clara, capitalising on their numerical advantage, split the St Brigid’s defence wide open to score a great goal with Ross Brady and Edward Cullen (perfect final pass) linking up to create a clear-cut chance for Josh Fleming to flick the ball into the net from a few yards out. 

Three points followed from Cormac Delaney, Scott Brady and Cullen before Fleming got through to score the second goal for Clara in the 27th minute.

While Killashee quickly replied with a very good point from their best player Dylan Farrell, another Clara score from a Ross Brady mark left his side leading by 2-6 to 0-4 at the break and down to 14 players after Edward Cullen (straight red card) was sent-off in stoppage time. 

That gave St Brigid’s a bit of a boost and while they made a bright start to the second half, a couple of chances were missed before Dylan Farrell converted a free with five minutes gone on the changeover.  

A brilliant point from Clara midfielder Graham Guilfoyle kept the scoreboard ticking over and then Ross Brady punished a mistake in the Killashee defence to accept the gift of a third goal for the superior Offaly outfit in the 41st minute. 

Afforded the luxury of kicking a number of wides, Clara added another 3-3 to their most emphatic tally during the remainder of the match with powerful centre-half-back Carl Stewart scoring two of the goals while Cormac Delaney planted the ball in the back of the St Brigid’s net with time almost up. 

Matthew Mitchell, Cathal O’Meara and Conor Egan accounted for the Clara points while Dylan Farrell fired over a couple of frees for Killashee who were denied a consolation goal when Darren Carberry had a close range shot well saved by the opposing keeper Joey Deehan and the rebound was blocked down.  

Teams and scorers

 ST BRIGID’S KILLASHEE: Pat Farrell; Shane Cosgrove, Johnny Casey, Keelan Cox; Conor Clancy, Killian Lee, John Lee; Michael Farrell, Jack Magan; Dylan Farrell (0-6, three frees), Darren Carberry, Mark Rossiter; Francie Dolan, Mel Shanley (0-1), Gerard Evans. Subs:- James Willis for J  Lee (40 mins); Ronan Kavanagh for G Evans (45 mins); Barry Geraghty for M Shanley (50 mins); Michael Magan for M Rossiter (53 mins); Colin Cousins for C Clancy (53 mins). 

CLARA: Joey Deehan; Ciaran Ennis, Ciaran Doyle, Cathal O’Meara (0-2); Colm Doyle, Carl Stewart (2-0), Lorcan Hiney; Graham Guilfoyle (0-1), Scott Brady (0-1); Cormac Delaney (1-1), Thomas Deehan, Edward Cullen (0-1); Josh Fleming (2-0), Ross Brady (1-2, one point from mark), Pa Smith. Subs:- David Falsey for S Brady (injured, 29 mins); Matthew Mitchell (0-1) for P Smith (39 mins); Conor Egan (0-1) for G Guilfoyle (45 mins); Aaron Ngo for J Fleming (48 mins); Adam Kelly for T Deehan (injured, 60 mins). 

Referee: Patrick Coyle (Meath).   

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