Round Towers 0-14
Joe Mallon Renault SFC Group 4 Round 3
By Ian Baker
Despite Round Towers mounting a last gasp second-half challenge, Danny Egan stood tall in injury-time to secure Clane’s crucial SFC preliminary quarter-final place.
Round Towers’ third straight loss in Group 4 means they’ll play a tricky relegation semi-final against Two Mile House, who also lost their third straight game in Group 1.
In a sea of pointless encounters in the Senior Championship over the weekend, where some groups couldn’t change their order because of head-to-head deciders, this game allowed supporters to really get into the spirit.
Physically tough, energy sapping and demanding, Clane and Round Towers played like they had something to gain and everything to lose.
In the old sense of the word Championship, which means somebody goes home crying, Clane kept their hopes alive with a proper nail-biting win.
Sean O’Dea’s team really wanted to avoid another relegation battle this year and it showed in the opening fifteen minutes.
However, as they drew Moorefield in a preliminary quarter-final, their celebrations in training will be muted this week and maybe short-lived in the coming weeks.
It’s difficult to believe that Clane will knock-out the 2017 and 2018 champions, but there’s something alive and dogged about this Clane side.
Finishing third behind Athy and Johnstownbridge is a result in itself and who knows, Moorefield don’t seem to be firing on all cylinders yet?
Glenn Ryan’s Round Towers can have few complaints that they landed in a relegation semi-final. Group 4 was difficult, but they gave Clane a six-point lead in the opening twelve minutes.
Needing twenty-four minutes to register their first point from play, they relied upon Jason O’Brien frees and three superb points from Mark Waters to counteract Shane O’Sullivan’s 30th minute goal.
If Waters hadn’t scored two points in the first-half injury-time, they’d have trailed by seven points. Trailing by five at half-time meant that they could whittle the game down to one-point midway through the second-half.
In the opening fifteen minutes of the second-half, O’Brien, Leon Tsang, Evan Flynn and Michael Kelly points showed their impassioned spirit.
But in true Championship fashion, Clane responded. When only one-point separated the sides, Clane can consider Danny Egan their Championship hero.
His fifth free, Clane’s first point sixteen minutes into the second-half, barely moved the margin beyond Round Towers.
Trading points with Bernard Deay and O’Sullivan, Round Towers reduced the deficit to one-point in the 57th minute when Neil Scanlon, Kelly and O’Brien responded.
Held scoreless for ten minutes as Round Towers attacked in waves, Egan’s sixth point once again shifted the goal posts enough so that Clane could breathe.
For all the uncomfortable and nail-biting palaver, Clane comfortably finished out the game. O’Sullivan registered 1-4, while Egan put the result beyond doubt with his eighth-point.
In one sense, neither team really gained from the result. Clane explode into a preliminary quarter-final, only to be drawn against Moorefield.
Round Towers have an ideal opportunity to conclude their Championship season gracefully against Two Mile House. Yet the fact remains that Ryan and Co. are fighting relegation in their third year at Senior.
Scorers – Clane – D Egan 0-8 (5f); S O’Sullivan 1-4; B Deay 0-2; C Byrne and J Behan 0-1 each.
Round Towers – J O’Brien 0-5 (4f); M Waters 0-3, M Kelly and M Kelly 0-2 each; L Tsang, E Flynn and N Scanlon 0-1 each.
CLANE: Paddy McKenna; John Lynch, Noel Haverty; Cathal Egan; Tadgh Montgomery, Robert Philips, Cian O’Donoghue; Eoin Naughton, Chris Byrne; Sam McCormack, Shane O’Sullivan, Shane McCormack; Bernard Deay, Danny Egan, James Behan.
Subs: Jake Devey for Shane McCormack (52 mins); Cathal Geoghan for Deay (59); Sean Christiansen for Naughton (64); Peter McCreevy for Montgomery (65).
ROUND TOWERS: Brian Robinson; Hugh McDonald, Michael Joyce, Leon Tsang; Davy O’Neill, Michael Kelly, Cathal Daffy; Mark Waters, Evan Flynn; Jason O’Brien, Mark Byrne, Michael Murphy; Neil Scanlon, Mark Scanlon, DJ Flynn.
Subs: Jason Dunne for Scanlon (h/t); Johnny Moore for McDonald (h/t); John O’Dwyer for Flynn (55); Stephen Comerford for Murphy (59).
REFEREE: Liam Herbert.