CLOGHERINKOE’S provincial odyssey came to a conclusion last Sunday when they were beaten by Wexford’s junior champions St Fintan’s at Conneff Park in Clane.
Leinster Junior Club Football Championship Semi Final
St Fintan’s: 3-7
Two first half goals and another after the turnaround were the scores that resigned Chris Byrne’s charges to defeat. The Kildare club enjoyed a real purple patch in the second half and got to within two points of the visitors, having been trailing by six but St Fintan’s dug deep, tagged on a few more points and advanced to a final meeting with Dublin champions Castleknock.
The Cloughs, who have earned themselves a reputation as the comeback kings in recent weeks, started well, went 0-4 to 0-2 to the good by the 16th minute but then disaster struck for them.
Two goals in four minutes left St Fintan’s leading by four points. Before the interlude they tagged on another, while Dean Hanley did likewise for the Kildare team to leave the half time score at 2-3 to 0-5.
Things really didn’t look good for Clogherinkoe but they really dug deep, like they have on so many occasions this year, and had their Wexford opponents firmly on the back foot and on the ropes. However time ran out on the Cloghs and they Leinster Championship campaign was brought to an end.
The Kildare junior kingpins began bright and opened the scoring with four minutes on the clock. Cein McMonagle picked out Ciaran Gravin, who was immense early on, and he delivered the point to give his side and early lead.
Two points on the trot without response however left the visitors leading by the minimum by the eighth minute. Firstly wing back Brendan Hughes got forward and split the posts before Wexford minor star Donal Shanley converted a free to leave the score at 0-2 to 0-1.
A brace of points for Clogherinkoe turned things around. McMonagle and Ciaran Gravin combined again to deliver the leveller before Brian Gravin’s line ball on the right saw him switch the play out left, pick out Mark Nolan and he stuck over. Another from Gravin soon after left Clogherinkoe leading 0-4 to 0-2 with 16 minutes played.
Then came the goal rush! Fintan’s first goal came with 19 minutes on the clock. Conor Sinnott, a former Dundalk FC player, played possession to Joey Wadding and he fired low to the back of Gary Ryan’s net to leave the score at 1-2 to 0-4.
Just four minutes later the Wexford team had the ball in the back of Ryan’s net once again. Wadding was hauled down by full back and captain Sean McEvoy and Dublin referee Ronald Malone signalled for a penalty. Conor Sinnott converted the spot kick with aplomb and gave his side a 2-2 to 0-4 lead.
Before the break Dean Hanley pulled back a point for Clogherinkoe but Cathal O’Brien did likewise for the visitors to leave the half time score at 2-3 to 0-5.
Some three minutes in to the new half Ciaran Gravin pulled one back for Clogherinkoe but soon after they were dealt another hammer blow. A long ball on from Padraig Doyle, brother of Irish soccer star Kevin Doyle, saw Wadding rise highest and get a touch to send the ball to the net and give St Fintan’s a 3-3 to 0-6 advantage.
It was then that Clogherinkoe sprung to life and very almost pulled off one of their famous comebacks. They struck four points without response, courtesy of Ciaran Gravin (two frees), Cein McMonagle (free) and Neil Bergin and left the scoreboard reading 3-3 to 0-10.
That was as close as Clogherinkoe got however. They were left to rue missed chances, while St Fintan’s tagged on another four points before a consolation goal from Paul Lowry.
St Fintan’s, Joey Wadding 2-0, Conor Sinnott 1-1 (1 pen), Donal Shanley 0-2 (2f), Brendan Hughes 0-1, Cathal O’Brien 0-1, John William Rowe 0-1, Conor Day 0-1.
Clogherinkoe, Ciaran Gravin 0-6 (1f), Paul Lowry 1-0, Dean Hanley 0-1, Mark Nolan 0-1, Cein McMonagle 0-1 (1f), Neil Bergin 0-1.
Patrick McDonnell; Jimmy Staples, Frank Staples, Eoin Whitmore; Jim Rossiter, Kevin Day, Brendan Hughes; John William Rowe, Padraig Doyle; Donal Shanley, Conor Sinnott, Niall Moore; Cathal O’Brien, Joey Wadding, Conor Day. Subs: Brian Lacey replaced N Moore 38 mins, Tomas Power replaced J Rossiter 57 mins.
Gary Ryan; Declan Lowry, Sean McEvoy, Conor Grehan; Thomas Hickey, Thomas Reilly, Kevin McEvoy; Brian Gravin, Daniel Grehan; Dean Hanley, Robbie Dunne, Cein McMonagle; John Kane, Ciaran Gravin, Mark Nolan. Subs: Neil Bergin replaced D Hanley 38 mins, Brian Kelly replaced J Kane 47 mins, Paul Lowry replaced K McEvoy 47 mins.
Ronald Malone (Dublin).