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Feature game - Leinster Leader

KDFL Senior Division

Clonmullion FC 5 Coill Dubh AFC 0

New crowned Senior League Champions Clonmullion FC bagged all three points in their penultimate league game versus Coill Dubh AFC on Sunday morning. Coill Dubh travelled missing several regulars due to injuries while Clonmullion FC Manager Barry Hughes and his selection team chose to ring the changes ahead of next week's Lumsden Cup Final, with 8 different personnel from the last game against Maynooth University Town. But it didn't seem to affect things too much with the home side going 1 nil up after only ten minutes. Lee Foley raided down the right and his cross was headed clear by Aaron Lenehan but it fell to Jack Dooley who's half volley found the target. With fifteen minutes gone Dubh keeper Luke Anderson punted a long ball down the pitch and it seemed to catch the home defence off guard as the ball bounced to Evan Moore but he could only lift his effort over the bar. Five minutes later it was two nil after Foley again crossed into the box where Ross Cardiff rose highest to nod down into the path of Dean Fennessy who curled a beautiful shot into the top right hand corner. The visitors were awarded a free kick twenty yards out with twenty five minutes gone and Dylan Hannon seen his effort rebound off the wall to Conor Commiskey who fired over the bar.

Coill Dubh pressed hard to reduce the deficit and when Sean McMahon fired in a low cross Commiskey met it beautifully and it deflected off Timmy Doyle but keeper Will Kenny adjusted his feet quickly to get down low to save and hold on to the ball. Benny Lawlor and Cardiff were linking well down the left and when the latter swung in a great cross Billy McNamee headed clear and Dooley was again in the right spot to volley goalward but Anderson parried it back into the danger area where Chris Chanders lifted his volley over the bar. Two minutes before the break Garry Comerford and Dooley played a neat one two and as Dooley ran into the box he was taken down by McNamee and the referee pointed to the spot. Anderson saved the spot kick but it bounced back to Dooley who made no mistake at the second attempt.

The second half started in the same way as The Mull went looking for more goals. Fennessy and Comerford combined well to put Chanders through on goal but Anderson was quickly out to dive at the strikers feet and deny him. However ten minutes later substitutes young Oisin Flynn and veteran Johnny Fennell played a lovely combination of passes down the left with Fennell making it 4 nil from an acute angle. Flynn was again the provider as he raided down the wing and crossed in for Fennessy but he couldn't get high enough and could only glance his header over the top. With twenty minutes left Dubh substitute Cian McMahon swung in a great free kick but Lenehan could only head over the bar. Dooley was mad to make it a hat trick and when Fennessy put him in one on one with the keeper he looked destined to score but Andersons finger tips denied him. Shortly after the visitors went close when Hannon put substitute Will Carroll in behind the home defence and he tried to lob the advancing keeper Kenny but he lifted his effort too high and it drifted over the bar. With ten minutes left Cardiff and Dooley worked a clever corner kick routine and the ball fell to Michael Walsh who's volleyed effort was well saved but as it rebounded to him he made no mistake to make it 5 nil to the champions. Best for Coill Dubh were Anderson in goals, McNamee and Lenehan in defence and Commiskey and Hannon. Coill Dubh now look to a very important tie v Ballycane Celtic in a battle against relegation. Best for Clonmullion were Doyle and Walsh in defence and Dooley and Fennessy in the middle with Cardiff and Foley always dangerous out wide.

Other Feature game

FAI Oscar Traynor Trophy 2023/24

Kildare & District League 2 Carlow & District League 2

(By Wayne ‘Bubba’ Doyle)

Fergal Finn and his management team welcomed the Carlow league to Doctors Road Clane for the first competitive game in this Oscar Traynor trophy competition on a bitterly cold evening in North kildare. With only two challenge games to acclimatise players to his particular brand of football and a number of absentees on the night for a variety of reasons. The management team had a minor reshuffled prior to kick off but still a more than capable squad to choose from.

Kildare got off to a nightmare start and found themselves one nil down after two minutes. When Dylan Connolly was caught in possession on his own eighteen yard box , Danny Doyle nipped in with a quick toe poked effort just inside box that looked a fairly innocuous shot but somehow found away past Keith Higgins into the bottom corner to give Carlow a dream start. Kildare led by the composed Mark Hughes from the back who was willing to take the ball in difficult situations and give his side a much needed outlet. Kildare worked their first meaningful effort when Hughes fired a splendid pass into the feet of Dylan Connolly, he first time touched a pass out wide and Marvin Ebala was bearing down on goal but Kevin Murphy made the tackle to give Kildare a corner. Nathan Robinson whipped in superb cross, and Stephen French got through a mass of bodies to get a powerful header that crashed off the crossbar. The ball seems to ricochet of several players and looked to have possibly crossed the line in the process Carlow finally got it away. But the linesman spotted an infringement under protest from the Kildare management.The referee was called over and after a deliberation with his official a penalty kick was awarded for intentional handball by Dean Kelly. Kildare skipper Nathan Robinson assumed responsibility and emphatically dispatched the spot kick to put kildare back on level terms after eight minutes.

The Carlow outfit had a really high press which Kildare really struggled to play through with Brandon Kelly and Lee Walker causing havoc for the Kildare fullbacks. Adam Steed had the ball past Keith Higgins after a well crafted pass by Jack Brody from midfield but the effort was ruled out for offside. The danger signs were ominous for Kildare as Carlow made a series of excellent plays that just failed to materialise into anything substantial but were certainly knocking on the door. Both Hughes and JP Higgins were having a stellar game in the Kildare rearguard. James Ralph did well to latch onto a long raking JP Higgins pass over the top and again won a cornerkick for his team. Again Nathan Robinson provided the ammunition as he picked out Stephen French, who rose highest, but couldn't direct his header goal bound as it flew by the post a really decent opportunity to grab the lead. Carlow finally got that elusive second goal after Owen McCormack delivered an perfect ball and Jack Kelly finished the move with a lovely looping header that left Keith Higgins stranded and put the away side a goal to the good on the half hour mark.Adam Steed almost added another for Carlow after he managed to control a long Comerford pass but dragged his effort just wide under pressure from Shane Higgins. Kildare really laboured hard in midfield and was just beginning to get the upper hand. A really quality passage of play that started with Hughes to Kieran Sheedy. Sheedy shielded the ball brilliantly and slipped a pass to Connolly, Connolly with a cheeky nutmeg before unleashing a ferocious shot that was tipped around the post by Maher at full stretch a magnificent save. Stephen French had a long-range effort that never troubled Danny Maher after good build-up play by Nathan Robinson to end the half. A really workman like performance by Kildare in the first half.They didn't have the fluency they would of liked and struggled to build momentum ,against a sharp Carlow side that had too much time on the ball at times.

Kildare made a couple of changes at the break with Ryan Kearney and Sean McMahon both introduced and Marvin Ebala and Mark Kelly making way. Fergal Finn and his management team had a reshuffle in the formation that proved fruitful almost immediately. Young Ryan Kearney intercepted a stray pass as Cian Dowling tried to play out from the back. The Newbridge Flyer had a little more time than he realised and rushed his shot that Maher saved comfortably. Kildare didn't have to wait long though for the breakthrough.When Sheedy picked up the ball in midfield and pinged a clever pass into James Ralph. Ralph with an impeccable first touch and the deftest of passes to Dylan Connolly who bent an thunderbolt drive beyond Maher who could only watch in awe as it hit the back stanchion and nestled in the top corner to pull kildare right back level with ten played in the second half.Kildare imbued by the early success were much more positive in their approach and work a series of excellent moves with French, Sheedy and Ralph all testing Maher in the Carlow goals. Sean McMahon added a terrier like quality at left full as he crunched into tackle after tackle to win possession for the home side. Shane Higgins won a freekick for himself after a powerful run up the right flank. Higgins took the freekick himself and put a great cross field ball that Dylan Connolly headed just over. The game really opened up now and was literally end to end stuff. Carlow went close moments later after Comerford got up the line and delivered a pinpoint cross which Owen McCormack header just flew wide of Keith Higgins post. Kildare quick on the counter as Sean McMahon burst out from the backline with a exquisite pass to James Ralph. Ralph again an instrumental focal point this time setting up Nathan Robinson who blazed at half volley just over the crossbar with an hour on the clock. Kildare had momentarily lapsed in concentration and Carlow nearly made them play. A quick thinking throw by Jack Kelly had Lee walker away on goal and the pacey winger looked certain to lob the on rushing Keith Higgins but skewed his effort wide a telling chance gone awry. Craig Comerford who was quality for Carlow was again at the forefront after he whipped in a low meancing corner that whizzed right across the six yard box and needed a mere touch for a certain goal. Kildare were really pushing forward and Ryan Kearney was quickest again to react to a loose ball as he blew by Cian Dowling and got a really decent shot off that Maher smothered comfortably enough. Anthony Durney, Eamon Doyle and Niall Fynn were all introduced with Dylan Connolly, Kieran Sheedy, and Stephen French making way.

Kildare used Anthony Durney aerial prowess to good effect as they bombarded the Carlow backline with crosses but couldn't work that telling opening. Carlow to their credit were still dangerous with Jack Brody and Jodan Harmon probing for an opportunity but Kildare stood resolute behind Hughes, Higgins, and McMahon. The final and best chance of the game fell in the ninety third minute when Nathan Robinson intercepting a Carlow throw in and cleverly hooking a ball over the top for James Ralph who anticipated and was already midstride the ball just wouldn't fall favourable before Comerford made the tackle so Ralph had to take the volley on at a peculiarly awkward height and did well given the circumstances as his effort flew millimeters over the bar right at the Death. Kildare dictated more of the ball and perhaps could of won it but a draw reflected how the game played out in reality.

A much better second half for Kildare producing some eye-catching football and creating a lot of chance without giving up too many. Some big positives to be taken out of that second half performance for the lads. Best for Kildare JP Higgins, Mark Hughes, Sean McMahon, Nathan, Robinson, James Ralph put a good shift up top and Ryan Kearney did well off the bench.

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