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Feature Game - Leinster Leader



KDFL Under 20 Cup (Round 1).


Clane United FC 8 Straffan AFC 2


The rainy weather dominating the first month of Spring in 2024 continued on Saturday the 17th as Clane United met Straffan in the first round of the KDFL Under 20 Cup competition.  This local derby had the added spice of both teams playing at home effectively as Straffan have agreed an accommodation with their near neighbours to play their under 20 homes games on Clane’s all-weather facility.  On this occasion the designated home side were Clane United and the hosts opted to play into a strong breeze as the rain finally relented as the game kicked off.

 

Clane started brightly in tough conditions playing some nice possession football in the early stages. Straffan were resolute in the early exchanges looking to hit Clane on the break and this tactic almost bore fruit after eight minutes when a tussle on the halfway line between Clane’s Fionn Coyle and Straffan’s Cathal Kelly bounced in favour of the Staffan Man and Coyle went into the book for impeding the Straffan man twenty five yards from the Clane goal. PJ Heslin struck the resultant free kick into the Clane wall and the danger was cleared. On thirteen minutes Clane took the lead with Rhys Vaughan breaking down the left and playing the ball into the current KDFL Young player of the Year James Ralph on the edge of the area. Ralph checked inside the oncoming defender and struck a stunning drive beyond the despairing dive of Ultan Dolan in the Straffan. Clane doubled their advantage on twenty minutes after a period of sustained pressure. Once again some great play from James Ralph freed up space for brother Aidan on the right and his deep cross was met by Ben Kirwan who looped a fine header over Dolan. Roles were reversed on twenty seven minutes when Kirwan broke down the right and found Aidan Ralph whose deft finish put Clane firmly in control at 3-0. Straffan, to their credit, kept pushing forward and had a goal disallowed on the half hour for a push on Vaughan before Daniel Farrell fired home from the edge of the area in the thirty fourth minute to cut the deficit. Straffan almost scored a second shortly after when James Fallon’s powerful header produced a fine save from Adam Mazur in the Clane goal. As half time approached both sides continued to drive forward in search of goals with Nathan Carr, Vaughan and Ross Murphy going close for Clane with Sam Friel and Michael Behan responding with fine efforts for the visitors. 3-1 at half time.

 

Clane started much the brighter in the second half and dominated the early exchanges. After ten minutes of the second half the three goal lead was restored with James Ralph crossing to an unmarked Kirwan who helped himself to his second of the game.  A minute later James Ralph helped himself to his second of the game beating Dolan with a fine drive and went one better in the fifty ninth minute to secure his hat trick with another cracking finish to make it 6-1. Straffan were stunned and made several changes that steamed the flow of goals. Clane also emptied the bench and the game drifted a little as the new players got to the pace of the game.  In the seventy second minute Kirwan matched the earlier hat trick with another fine finish from the edge of the area. To their credit,  Straffan continued to probe and Heslin produced a beautiful finish for a free kick to make it 7-2 in the seventy fifth minute. The remainder of the game saw Clane continue to push forward and Straffan trying to hot on the break. In the eighty ninth minute a fast flowing move saw Clane close out the game with an eight goal of the game. The hard running Scott Britton picked up the ball on the left deep inside the Clane half and galloped deep into the Straffan defensive third before releasing Liam Deane in the inside left position and he curled a fine finish home to close the game. Best for Straffan – PJ Helsin, Daniel Farrell and Evan Burke while best for the winners on the day were Ben Kirwan, Aidan Ralph and MOTM James Ralph.


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