Arlington secured an invaluable three points in their battle to maintain their Senior status with a dominant display over bottom side Birr Town at Castle Park on Sunday afternoon.
CCFL Senior Division
Birr Town 0
The hosts were full value for their win and despite the absence of some key personnel the Port men were far too strong for a Birr side that started reasonably well but went completely out of the game after the interval.
Plagued by inconsistency all season, you never really know what to expect from Arlington. With three wins and six defeats from their previous nine games, they knew full well that anything less than three points would have placed a big question mark over their ability to stay in the CCFL top flight, but those fears were allayed for the time being at least thanks in no small part to striker Brian O’Mahoney’s contribution.
The former Ballybrittas frontman has been a welcome addition to the Portarlington side and he bagged a brace to steer his side to victory, but they didn’t have it all their own way in the early stages and they had to endure some shaky moments before gaining control of the tie.
Only an inch-perfect Peter Smart tackle denied Ger O’Brien from handing the hosts a lead in the sixth minute. Played through by an incisive Jamie Byrnes ball, O’Brien looked a dead cert to score until Smart came from nowhere to snuff out the danger. Birr looked for a penalty but referee Kevin Conroy correctly waved the half-hearted claims away.
Three minutes later, Byrnes should have handed Birr the lead when winger Paul Egan whipped in a teasing cross to the front post. Byrnes was out in front but he could only manage to sidefoot wide, and it was a miss that Town would rue as Arlington gradually got to grips with the game.
Barry Kenny poked a shot into the arms of Birr keeper Darren Brown after a sweeping Arlington attack involving Darryl Foy and James Gallagher and with just over ten minutes of the first half remaining, Arlington’s pressure finally told. Again Darryl Foy was instrumental and when a low Barry Kenny cross was controlled by Brian O’Mahoney, the tormenting frontman brushed off his marker and fired a low shot past Brown to give Arlington the lead.
Town regrouped after the concession of O’Mahoney’s strike without really threatening Brian McAuley’s goal, but once Arlington came back out after the break they stormed past their opponents to make light work of the Offaly men. Darryl Foy sent a free from the edge of the box just over the bar while Brian O’Mahoney also saw a half-chance narrowly miss the target, but right on the hour mark, Arlington grabbed the crucial second goal to all but guarantee the points.
O’Mahoney did well to control a long ball and sweep a neat pass out to Darryl Foy on the right wing. Foy slipped past the otherwise excellent Birr full-back Kevin Brummell and turned back inside on his preferred left-foot to swing in a peach of a cross to the back post that Barry Kenny couldn’t have missed from a few yards out.
Birr were all at sea from that point on. They lost their shape and made it easy for the hosts to pass their way through the Town defence. It was only a matter of time before more goals came and with just over twenty minutes left Brian O’Mahoney capped a fine performance with an excellent individual strike.
Pressurised into a poor clearance by the constant running up front from Joe Gorman, Birr keeper Darren Brown’s miscued kick landed on the chest of O’Mahoney. Standing 25 yards out, there was still plenty to do but O’Mahoney immediately volleyed the dropping ball over Brown’s head and into the empty net.
Arlington weren’t finished there and they rounded off their impressive win with nine minutes left. A poorly struck Brian O’Mahoney corner looked to be the end of the move but Stefan Zmudski flicked the ball back into play from his position on the front post and Peter Smart arrived on the scene to hammer home a low shot from the edge of the six yard box.
ARLINGTON: Brian McAuley, Joe Tully, Lorcan Carey, Colin Doyle, Peter Smart, Dave Thorpe (Stefan Zmudski 72), Darryl Foy (Mark Donnelly 72), James Gallagher, Brian O’Mahoney, Joe Gorman, Barry Kelly (Oleg Shiskarev 72).
BIRR TOWN: Darren Brown, James Butler, Kevin Brummell, Adrian Brown, Stephen Byrnes, Michael McGrath (Stephen Lyons 71), Paul Egan (Alan Corby 80), Jamie Byrnes (Emmet Nolan 68), Craig Shortt, David McEvoy, Ger O’Brien (Darren Madden 49).
Brian O’Mahoney (Arlington)
Not only did O’Mahoney grab two of the goals, his overall contribution was outstanding. Leading the line and harassing the Birr defence at every opportunity, he was a real handful all game and was vital to his side’s success. Peter Smart looked comfortable alongside Colin Doyle at the heart of the home defence while for Birr the two lively wing-backs Kevin Brummell and James Butler dealt admirably with the Arlington onslaught.