Clonaslee-St Manman’s 6-9
By Pat Delaney
FOR once Clonaslee-St Manman’s were favourites ahead of the throw-in – favourites to be relegated, that is. Instead they took a leaf from the Ballyfin book and went for broke. Last year’s senior finalists leaked four goals to Ballyfin in their last game, which condemned them to the relegation trap door. Obviously, Clonaslee studied the video and went in front with their first goal by John Rowney playing against the breeze.
This was a warning to Emo but they scored two early points by Paul Lawlor, then a well-worked point from David Gorman when he rose high to box over the bar. Paul Lawlor and minor captain Finbar Crowley extended the Emo lead before Glen McEvoy pointed for Clonaslee, then added another from a free.
Emo pulled away with a succession of points from Evin Costelloe, Shane Murphy and Paul Lawlor from a free. Clonaslee kept in touch with white flags from John Rowney and John Rigney. Emo were looking comfortable as the 25th minute approached but then a great Clonaslee move saw PJ Fitzpatrick get inside the defence to score a great goal. This put a different complexion on the board, now reading 0-12 to 2-5 at the interval.
The returning Pat Ryan must have thought it could not get worse than Rio but the next hour showed him it might. Clonaslee were now playing into the Pavilion end but it was Emo that started the brightest with three unanswered points, with Paul Lawlor leading the charge and Nigel Murphy with two great strikes. Clonaslee hit back with an excellent point by John Rigney, who covered every inch of McCann Park. Paul Lawlor restored his side’s four point advantage in the 39th minute.
Evin Costelloe and Glen McEvoy traded points and then came a crucial moment, with 15 minutes remaining. Emo were awarded a penalty when a defender hauled down Paul Lawlor but – to the dismay of the Emo following – Conor Gorman spread himself to make a brilliant save from Darren Strong. The former minor has the distinction of saving and scoring a penalty in this year’s amazing championship.
Emo now hit three bad wides as they tried to close out the game but in the 48th minute another defence-splitting move saw Tom Tynan take a pass from the advancing Seamus Rosney. He slammed wide of Paul Kirwan for goal number three.
Clonaslee were back in the game at the other end. Nigel Murphy scored an Emo point and when Clonaslee hit two bad wides it looked as if Emo would survive.
Five minutes remained when Ger Reilly split the posts. Emo introduced Brian Gorman but hit three more bad wides and after Clonaslee were wide it looked as if they had their chance. A minute into injury time. Emo hauled on Mick Lawlor to delay time but, as he walked on, another sub Niall Hogan was delivering the equaliser. From the kick-out, Mick Lawlor rose high but fell awkwardly and had to depart the scene. Darren Strong then had one last chance to win it but his powerful kick blazed wide of the right hand post and extra time was ordered.
Emo began well with another brace from Paul Lawlor but then, in the sixth minute, Tommie Tynan squeezed the leather just inside the left hand post for goal number four. He scored a vital one in hurling on Wednesday as well.
Emo were rocked again but more was to follow. Brian Gorman kicked an Emo point but in the final kick of the half Glen McEvoy smashed home goal number five soccer style, leaving Emo trailing 0-22 to 5-9.
The next ten minutes saw more drama, Evin Costelloe kicked a point and a point separated but five minutes later, Clonaslee sealed their place in senior when Niall Hogan got inside the Emo rearguard and left-footed into the roof of the net. Paul Lawlor had the last score with a point but by now Emo’s aching limbs were showing and they were glad to hear the final whistle.
Five years ago in the relegation final, Clonaslee won 2-12 to 0-8 against the same opposition. Now last year’s finalists have one more card to play. It could be the Morette neighbours or a repeat of their only senior success against Graiguecullen. Nervous times lie ahead.
CLONASLEE-ST MANMAN’S: Conor Gorman; Willie Murray, Ger Dunne, Shane Conroy; John Molloy, Conor McEvoy, Diarmuid Conroy; Seamus Rosney, Glen McEvoy (1-3); Jim McRedmond, John Rowney (1-1), John Rigney (0-1); PJ Fitzpatrick (1-0), Ger Reilly (0-1), Tom Tynan (2-1); Subs Niall Hogan (1-2) for J Molloy 25m, Ger Dunne for PJ Fitzpatrick 52m, Ger Dunne for S Rosney Bl Card 69m
EMO: Paul Kirwan; Shane Murphy (0-1), Shane Carney, Paddy Dunne; Darren Strong (0-1),Niall Wheeler, James Coman; Bobby Deveraux, Mark Carney; Finbar Crowley (0-1), Nigel Murphy (0-3), Evin Costelloe (0-5); Conor Gorman, Paul Lawlor (0-11), Glen Brophy; Subs David Gorman (0-1) for C Lawlor 20m,Brian Gorman (0-1) for G Brophy 57m John Booth for D Gorman 54m, B Deverux for Mick Lawlor inj. extra time.
Referee: Brendan McCann (Portarlington)