Second Division Play Off
Cloughjordan ‘B’ 2 – Holycross 1
Cloughjordan ‘B’ clinched the Second Division League title with a narrow 2-1 win over Holycross in this play off game at Thurles Greyhound Stadium last Wednesday evening. A marathon league campaign had seen the finalists play a total of 56 games since last August which culminated in this head to head encounter when the sides were locked on 67 points a piece after the final series of games were completed. Cloughjordan came in to this game carrying the disappointment of last Sunday’s Cup Final defeat and Terry Deane sprung the changes with no fewer than four new faces in the starting eleven, while Holycross had to contend with the loss of their 41 goal target man Joseph O’Meara who recently travelled to Australia. The opening exchanges were evenly contested, Holycross midfielder Jerry Ryan threaded through to Brian Barrett after two minutes, however the ball skidded over the end line. Cloughjordan’s John Hayes picked out Willie Darcy with a free kick effort a minute later, however Robert Quinlan in the Holycross goal advanced to gather. Holycross came close on six minutes when Kyle Denny’s corner kick was headed over by Brian Barrett. Chances were being created at both sides of the field and Kevin O’Dwyer’s free kick was caught by Cloughjordan’s Terry Deane on the second attempt. Willie Darcy threatened again for Cloughjordan in the 11th minute, however Robert Quinlan was well positioned to make the block. Holycross were playing the more fluent football at this stage and Dan Corbett fired just wide on the 14 minute mark following a good move which started in the middle of the field, this was followed with a headed effort from John Quinlan which wasn’t far away after Kyle Denny was the provider. Willie Darcy was a threat throughout and Darren Killackey released the Cloughjordan number 6 three minutes later, again Robert Quinlan had read the situation and cut out the danger. Holycross got on top again after this especially in the midfield sector, however Cloughjordan took the lead against the run of play in the 26th minute when Wesley Hayes found space on the right to square to Peter Deane who drilled on target, the Holycross custodian seemed to see late and the ball squirmed to the corner of the net. Holycross were left reeling from this setback and worse was to follow four minutes later when Conor Deane was taken down inside the box and referee Liam Kelly pointed to the box. Darren Killackey stepped up to send the ball to the right of Robert Quinlan edging Cloughjordan two nil ahead in the process. The concession of the second goal so quickly was a thunderbolt to Holycross, however John Paul Buckley’s side dug deep and made a strong finish to the half, a Kevin O’Dwyer free kick from outside the box eight minutes before the break was well struck, however the Cloughjordan wall stood firm and the ball was cleared to safety. The Cloughjordan custodian denied Holycross five minutes later when a a Jerry Ryan shot from inside the box was parried over by Terry Deane and then Jerry Ryan followed up again two minutes later with a good effort that was just outside the post.
Holycross made the first incision of the second half when Jerry Ryan linked up with Dan Corbett four minutes in, however Terry Deane got down to make the save. Cloughjordan’s first chance of the second half came in the 59th minute when Darren Killackey headed over from a long delivery. Holycross were turning on the heat and Cloughjordan’s Willie Darcy was popping up all over the field with timely tackles and good ball delivery to counteract the Holycross assault. Hilton Feehan was getting a lot of space on the left flank and it was from one of those raids that saw Jerry Ryan go close with a well worked effort. Darren Killackey was also having his moments for Cloughjordan and a break down the right wing in the 58th minute saw Robert Quinlan narrow the angle and produce a fine reflex save with a late boot that turned the ball around the post. Barry Loughnane’s low shot from the edge of the box was just outside the Holycross upright three minutes later. Holycross resumed the offensive as Cloughjordan sat deep to protect their lead, Brian Barrett’s headed effort from a Kyle Denny corner wasn’t far away as Holycross went in search of an elusive goal to get them back in to the game. Willie Darcy was again to the fore for Cloughjordan as Holycross attacked in droves and was also well supported by Pio Fitzpatrick who made his presence felt with a fine tackle on Jerry Ryan in the 72 minute when Ryan was through on goal. Holycross had claims for a penalty turned down seconds later before the ball broke to David Joyce who let fly only to see his effort ricochet off the woodwork. John Hayes and a crafty John Fitzgerald combined well throughout with the latter doing well to cut out a dangerous Holycross move with fifteen minutes to go. Holycross kept the pressure on and Jerry Ryan who turned in an all round performance, shot to the side netting from the right seconds later. The Holycross onslaught eventually paid off in the 87th minute when John Quinlan’s free kick was headed to the net by Brian Barrett. Cloughjordan were now on the back foot and a John Quinlan free kick landed in the danger area a minute later, once again Willie Darcy had read the situation to perfection and headed clear from under his own crossbar when the ball was almost in the net. Darren Killackey might have copper fastened the win for Cloughjordan in the 92nd minute after dashing through on the right, however Robert Quinlan was more than equal to the effort and dived to his right to finger tip the ball away, Holycross had time for one last attack, however the Champions elect were not letting go at this stage and cleared their lines to secure a hard earned League title. This was a cruel defeat for Holycross after such a lengthy campaign and in truth Holycross were unlucky to have fallen two goals in arrears early in game, their star striker Joseph O’Meara was a big loss, nevertheless Holycross battled gallantly throughout and were unlucky not to at least draw level in the end. For Cloughjordan, this was a massive result and made up for the disappointment of the Cup Final defeat a few days earlier, and in a way the Cup Final defeat strengthened their resolve to take the League Title back to Cloughjordan which was done with great aplomb. Mike Young (NT&DL Chairman) presented the League Cup to Cloughjordan captain Willie Darcy after the game.
Man of the Match: Willie Darcy (Cloughjordan)
Cloughjordan ‘B’: Terry Deane, Don McClean, Johnny Fitzgerald, Pio Fitzpatrick, John Hayes, Willie Darcy(Capt), Conor Deane, Wesley Hayes, Barry Loughnane, Darren Killackey, Peter Deane
Subs: Gareth Russell for Peter Deane (56th minute), Jason Darcy for Conor Deane (74th minute)
Subs Not Used: Adrian Hogan, Shane Hodgins, Joey Donnelly
Holycross: Robert Quinlan (Capt.), Thomas Dillon, Hilton Feehan, John Quinlan, Kevin O’Dwyer, David Joyce, Brian Barrett, Jerry Ryan, Dan Corbett, Kyle Denny, Stephen Cummins.
Subs: Mark Fogarty for Dan Corbett(54th minute), Jason O’Brien for Stephen Cummins(62nd minute), David O’Callaghan for David Joyce (85th minute),
Subs Not Used: John Paul Buckley, David English
Referee: Liam Kelly
Assistant Referee’s: Jimmy McCarthy, Toddy Sweeney