Senior C’ship Playoff

Clarinbridge 1-20 Pearses 1-14. Shortly after half-time in this senior championship playoff in Kenny Park, Pearses trailed by seven points. They battled back to force extra-time, but will regret the missed chances throughout the second half and could’ve won it in the closing minutes of normal time. Clarinbridge were the better team in extra-time and scoring burst at the start of this period gave them a five point lead, which they protected until the finish.

Clarinbridge started with a strong wind at their backs, blowing into the scoreboard end. Both teams hit some early wides, before Tomas Flannery opened the scoring for Pearses from a free in the sixth minute. Michael Daly had a chance for goal at the other end while advantage was being played, Fearghal Flannery saved well in the Pearses goal. Evan Niland pointed the free and gave Clarinbridge the lead two minutes later, from play, finishing off a good team move. Sean Hardiman levelled for Pearses, to leave it 0-2 each after 10 minutes.

Clarinbridge had the better of the play for the remaining 20 minutes of the half, outscoring Pearses 0-7 to 0-2. They were using the big wind to good effect, testing the Pearses backline with route one deliveries into big full-forward Cian Salmon, who Keith Donnellan marshalled well. Evan Niland was Clarinbridge’s scorer in chief, while midfielder Barry Daly was involved in much of their best play. Gary Lally and Sean Hardiman were the Pearses scorers in this spell. Half-time: Clarinbridge 0-9 Pearses 0-4.

Two Evan Niland points on the restart opened a seven point gap. Pearses hit the next three points of the game, from Flannery, Colm Raftery and the pick of them a score from the right touchline by Gary Lally, 0-11 to 0-7. Niland pointed from a 65, in what was originally flagged as a point by the umpire. This didn’t stall the Pearses momentum, as first Conor Fahey, Flannery and Lally again pointed to make it 0-12 to 0-10.

A point from play by Sean Kilduff reopened a three point lead for the Bridge. Then followed a five minute scoreless spell. A cross-field ball to Sean Hardiman, broke to Conor Fahey along the endline. He blazed a rasping shot from a tight angle into the Clarinbridge net, level. Niland would give the Bridge a one point lead with 53 minutes played. Ronan Bellew levelled it again after 55. Pearses had the momentum at this point, but shot several wides. Full-time, 1-11 to 0-14.

Clarinbridge had a blistering start to extra-time. Now with the wind advantage again, they hit 1-3 in the first four minutes. The goal from Mark Kennedy, a ground shot which was clipped past Fearghal Flannery and slipped its way over the Pearses line despite the back’s attempts to keep it out, 1-17 to 1-11. Clarinbridge led by five at the change of ends. There was just three additional points in the second half, as Clarinbridge shut up shop. They advance to play Gort in the Preliminary Quarter-Final.

Pearses: F Flannery; R Lally, K Donnellan, D Wynne; S Raftery, C Raftery (0-1), K Hardiman; C Fahey (1-1), C Donnellan; J Gelston, R Bellew (0-1), E Ward; G Lally (0-3), T Flannery (0-6), S Hardiman (0-2). Subs used: R O’Neill, R Flannery, T Kenny, E Cunniffe.

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