It was a battle between winless hosts Clonaslee Utd and hot and cold Gracefield Athletic as the two sides met at the Leisure Centre Grounds on Sunday morning in a local derby that had plenty of action but no goals.
CCFL DIVISION 1
The sides were two divisions apart this time last year but after Clonaslee’s relegation and Gracefield’s promotion they were pitted together here for the first time. In the early stages of the season it has been the Portarlington side that have coped best with life in Division 1, but early in the game there was little sign of that as United did most of the pressing against a lacklustre Gracefield side shorn of some key players.
Henry Hilliard had the first clear cut chance of the game after Ger Dunne broke free down the left wing before cutting it back for Hilliard who failed to connect as he would have hoped and his effort rolled harmlessly wide. However, once Gracefield found their feet it was Clonaslee’s Seamus Rosney who was the busier of the two keepers and he dealt admirably with the pressure.
His first real save came twenty minutes in when he got down well to claw a low Eamon Kelly shot just around the post. Three minutes later it was Kelly who was again foiled by Rosney with a stunning one-handed save from close range after the Gracefield striker benefitted from a piece of sloppy Clonaslee defending to bear down on goal.
Rosney’s opposite number was by no means a spectator either, and it was fortunate for his side that on two occasions minutes after each other Jonathan Knight was well positioned to deal with efforts from Niall Hogan and Glen McEvoy. The latter was perhaps Clonaslee’s busiest performer on the day and he got on the end of another great move down the left wing, this time from Hogan who escaped the attentions of David Cox to drill a low ball across goal but unfortunately for the hosts McEvoy couldn’t get enough on it to find the target.
That was as close as either side got in that opening half and despite their best efforts after the break neither side could find that elusive goal in the second half either. That wasn’t to say that this was a drab affair because both sets of players battled for every ball and it was only some superb defending and goalkeeping after the interval that maintained the stalemate.
Eamon Kelly was first to go close but his quickly struck snapshot bounced inches wide of the post. Clonaslee’s first half dominance was cut significantly in the second period with the visitors doing most of the pressing but in a two minute spell midway through it was United who came closest to breaking the deadlock only to be denied by some desperate Gracefield defending.
Athletic missed two good chances late in the game with a brilliant Ger Dunne tackle denying Eamon Kelly and then Pierce Mitchell’s curling shot easily gathered by Seamus Rosney, and in the end the draw was the right result.
CLONASLEE: Seamus Rosney, Conor Hogan (Vinny Hanniffy ’38), Mark McEvoy, Conor Gorman, Ger Dunne, Glen McEvoy, Niall Hogan (Padraig Hogan ’66), John Rigney, John Molloy, Henry Hilliard, John Conroy.
GRACEFIELD: Jonathan Knight, David Cox, Stephen Flanagan, Richie Porter, Johnny Keogh, Clifford Nolan (Pierce Mitchell ’66), Eoghan Gleeson, Tom Slevin, Jack Cunningham (Tom Doyle ’61), Conor McBride, Eamon Kelly.
Referee: Emmet Dynan