Clara 0-13 Tubber 1-9

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Clara 0-13 Tubber 1-9

Postby Lone Shark » Mon Jul 23, 2007 2:02 pm

Tubber supporters spent a long time waiting to play this particular local derby in the championship, and as they filed out of Ferbane GAA grounds last Saturday evening most of them will be hoping that they don’t have to wait as long to have such a glorious chance to put one over the Magpies.

Whenever this particular clash next occurs, be it later this summer or not for another twenty years, it’s highly unlikely that Clara will be as vulnerable to being upset as this. Last time out against Ferbane they had the glorious form of Thomas Deehan to thank for salvaging a draw that looked unlikely throughout, and with Deehan on the sideline due to injury there was every reason to believe that they were in for a tough evening with scores hard to come by.

That the re-arranged full forward line chipped in with ten points from play will no doubt jump off the fact sheet as why Clara emerged from this game with their ambitions to go one step further than last year intact, but their experience of senior championship football contrasted heavily with Tubber’s naivety, and arguably was just as influential. Clara made their tactical switches to plug leaks in the team at the first sign of trouble, Tubber all too often waited until the horse was bolted loose and galloping freely across the plains before shutting the stable door. Above all, Clara engineered 24 good scoring chances over the course of the hour working with less than 50% of the primary possession, mainly due to intelligent and cohesive running lines and use of space up front matched by good ball retention and delivery around the middle third of the field. Individually Tubber’s forwards may have matched Clara for effort and ability, but all too often each forward was working individually in showing for the ball rather than dovetailing with their colleagues, resulting in Tubber midfielders and wing backs looking down the field to see no space to exploit. If Tubber can address this deficit in support play and co-ordinated forward movement they showed enough raw ability to suggest that they will give Ferbane plenty to think about in the final group game.

The absence of Thomas Deehan necessitated the other forwards, John Reynolds in particular, stepping up to the mark and delivering. Paul Deehan opened the scoring, Tubber responding almost immediately with a well finished point from Michael Grennan, but Reynolds soon had his first point and Clara’s second lead of the game. An excellent diagonal ball from Stephen Kidney was perfectly exploited as he leveraged Guinan off balance, turned back in towards goal and finished neatly from 30 yards out. This lead soon became two, but Brian Kelly, operating at centre forward, started to come into the game with his incisive running, and this led to Tubber looking the more dangerous side for the next twenty minutes. He laid off a good ball for a Keith Higgins point before winning a penalty when he was pulled down homing in on goal after ten minutes. Ciarán McManus hit the penalty high and over for a point, but a few minutes later Kelly was on the charge again, this time laying off to Kevin McGuinness whose shot was blocked well by Darren Kelly. Tubber were marginally in the ascendancy up until the last five minutes of the half, but in that last five minutes Clara took scores with a lot more ease, John O’Hara and Reynolds twice sending the teams into the break at double scores, 0-6 to 0-3.

John O’Hara entered this game as a player relatively unheralded on the Offaly club scene, but a lot of observers will have noted the name after his five points from play in this match. He hit the first three Clara scores of the second half, two of which were particularly tidy finishes from tricky angles. Clara were by now moving the ball very well up the field, and while Tubber were competing aggressively in their defence, assisted by Michael Doolan playing in a deeper role, they were having great difficulty in winning ball beyond midfield. On 40 minutes they made a crucial switch, moving midfielder Noel Browne into full forward and bringing Dave Kavanagh off the bench. Within five minutes Browne had created one point for the Kavanagh, scored one of his own after a fine high catch and brought Tubber back to within two points. Clara were still creating chances up front, but successive wides from Paul Deehan and O’Hara meant that Tubber were still right in the match. Peter Flanagan did put Clara back to three points in front, but Noel Browne wasn’t finished yet. On 47 minutes he broke another high delivery down into the path of Brian Kelly, and the minor star stepped to the left and slid a low finish into the net to level up the teams.

Pa Smith restored Clara’s lead, and that advantage was doubled with five minutes left when a blocked handpass in defence saw John O’Hara clip over his fifth point. Tubber to their credit kept plugging away though, and a Kevin McGuinness free right on the end of normal time left the minimum between the sides. Fate normally determines that a side in that situation will get one last chance, with the result normally decided by whether or not they can take that chance. Sure enough, Noel Browne fielded one last cross field ball, laid it back to Brian Kelly, and with all the assurance of a man ten years his senior, he split the posts to level the game.

There’s more to experience than calmly shooting when the chance presents though. As Tubber rejoiced, the kickout still had to be dealt with. Meehan found Scott Brady, who after being fouled played a good ball up the line to Peter Flanagan. He laid off to Paul Deehan, and he closed in on goal and handpassed the winning score. Tubber failed to win the kickout, and with that they were left to think about when they might next get a chance to put one over their neighbours.

Clara: Kevin Meehan; Darren Kelly, Kieran O’Keeffe, Deasún Baggott; Alan Cronin, Joe Quinn, Paul Mitchell; Scott Brady, Kieran O’Meara; Tony Dalton, Stephen Kidney (0-1, free), Peter Flanagan (0-1); John Reynolds (0-3), Paul Deehan (0-2), John O’Hara (0-5).

Subs: Pa Smith (0-1) for Kieran O’Keeffe, Michael Rosney for Deasún Baggott

Tubber: Alan Kinahan; Brendan Heavin, Brian McManus, James Guinan; Lee Dunning, Eddie Kavanagh, Keith Higgins (0-1); Noel Browne (0-1), Ciarán McManus (0-1, pen); Keith Rafferty, Brian Kelly (1-1), Aaron Farrell; Kevin McGuinness (0-3, frees), Michael Doolan, Michael Grennan (0-1).

Subs: Joe Higgins for Aaron Farrell, Dave Kavanagh (0-1) for Keith Rafferty

Referee: Noel Cooney
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