Joe Mallon SFC round three
They went 20 minutes without scoring and trailed by five points in the final quarter, but Clane produced a remarkable comeback as they clipped over 11 points in the closing stages compared to a single score for Leixlip during that period.
Jake Devey's introduction in the second half was crucial for the victors as he kicked three points off the bench, while Brian McLoughlin - playing with a heavily strapped hamstring and clearly not fully right - was their scoring star once again as he weighed in with eight points.
There were eight yellow cards, three red cards and one black card dished out by referee Kieran Harris on a day where he seemed a bit to keen to go towards his pocket, though Leixlip could have no complaints about the straight reds shown to John Roche and Eoin Molloy. At times this game looked like a match between two sides who had been well beaten in the last round(Leixlip lost by 16 points to Moorefield and Clane lost by 17 points to Athy), but Clane will go into the quarter-finals in a couple of weeks time.
It was McLoughlin that opened the scoring in the second minute with a straightforward free, but Leixlip took control of the game for the next 10 minutes after that. Despite enjoying all the territory and a vast superiority in possession, they failed to really take advantage during a period in which the game was very stop-start. Harris played a part in that as there were occasions in which too much time was spent interviewing players and he also dished out yellow cards to Leixlip pair Cormac O'Toole and Eoin Molloy for what looked like verbals.
Ronan Fitzsimmons got the north Kildare side up and running in the fourth minute with a well-taken point from 35 metres out under pressure, while they went into the lead soon after when Niall White won a good ball on front of his man and laid it off to O'Toole to score from close range. Things could have been much better for Ronan Quinn's side had it not been for a fine save from Clane goalkeeper Paddy McKenna on an Eoin Molloy shot from close in, though they did pull two points ahead when Tommy Moolick curled over a wonderful point from the left wing.
A converted free from Paddy Meagher gave them a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 12 minutes, and Clane were in need of a score at this stage. It came from the diminutive Robbie Hyland who clipped a point over from the left, before Leixlip were dealt a double blow in the 14th minute. Firstly, Clane bagged a vital goal as the threat of McLoughlin drew three defenders into his vicinity, and the full-forward had enough awareness to pick out a smart run through the middle from Ciaran O'Flaherty who showed fine composure to loft the ball into the top corner of Gavin Regan's net. Leixlip's task was made a bit more difficult then as Meagher went off injured, though he was replaced by Eamon Murphy who finished as their top scorer on the day.
McLoughlin knocked over a fine long range free to double Clane's advantage, but Murphy responded at the other end with his first point following his introduction. Jack McCreevy almost netted a second goal for Clane when he worked his way into space, though his effort bounced back out off the crossbar and they follow-up attempt was missed. At the other end Niall White stroked over his single point of the first half, but that was immediately cancelled out by a McLoughlin free, though that was Clane's last point of the half as Leixlip finished the stronger. A coupe of points from Murphy - one was an exceptional effort from play - ensured they went into the break with an 0-8 to 1-4 advantage, but they lost corner-back John Roche to a red card after he was adjudged to have struck Robbie Hyland on the ground.
The second produced little more in the way of breathtaking in the first, but Leixlip's ability to maintain a level of control despite their numerical disadvantage, and they held Clane scoreless for the first 18 minutes of the new period. They weren't doing anything spectacular, but Clane's fluidity in attack had completely dried up and they were failing to exit their own defence with any purpose.
Murphy kicked his fourth point of the tie within two minutes of the restart, but Clane spurned another goal opportunity when Cian O'Donoghue burst through a gap in the Leixlip defence before firing a tame effort high and wide of the goal. Leixlip responded with three points in a row as substitute Conor Egan scooped over a point off the carpet when the goal looked on, but further scores from Dessie Hynes and Kevin Conneely seemed to place them in a strong position as they led by five points with just 12 minutes to go.
Maybe it was the fact that Leixlip were tiring due to being down to 14 men, or it could have been the shear force of will from Clane to produce the comeback, but something clicked in the final 12 minutes for Keiran McMenamin's men as they stormed to victory.
The introduction of Jake Devey was a major factor as the corner-forward finally got them off the mark in the 19th minute of the second half by curling over a beautiful point, and Clane went on to score eight points in the next nine minutes. McLouglin slotted over four frees that were sandwiched either side of another point from Devey, and McLoughlin's final point of that flurry sent them into the lead for the first time since the opening half. He then landed a stunning point under pressure after cutting in from the right to double his side's lead, and when Philly Doyle blazed over from on front of goal soon after it was clear that it was Clane's day.
There was still one nervy moment left for the victors as Paddy McKenna had to make a superb diving save to deny Tommy Moolick a flicked goal when the gap was just three points, but after that it was comfortable for them. Clane lost Philly Doyle to a red card when he was shown a black card after receiving an earlier yellow, while Leixlip midfielder Eoin Molloy was sent off on a straight red for striking out at Cian O'Donoghue late on.
Three points in the space of a minute in the sixth minute of injury time from Devey, Hyland and David Gibbons fattened up the margin of victory for Clane as they eased over the line and into the quarter-finals.
Scorers for Clane: B McLoughlin 0-8(7f), J Devey 0-3, C O'Flaherty 1-0, R Hyland 0-2, D Gibbons('45) and P Doyle 0-1 each.
Scorers for Leixlip: E Murphy 0-4(3f), C Egan 0-2, C O'Toole, P Meagher(1f), R Fitzsimmons, D Hynes, T Moolick and K Conneely 0-1 each.
P McKenna; B Corbett, P Regan, C Doyle; B Giffney, C O'Donoghue, P Doyle; C O'Flaherty, E Naughton; J McCreevy(C Egan 34mins), R Hyland, C Byrne; C Geoghehan(D Gibbons 50mins), B McLoughlin, E O'Neill.
G Regan; K Conneely, R Doyle, J Roche; C Fadian, T Gibbons, B Gibbons; T Moolick, E Molloy; D Hynes(B Claffey 54mins), P Meagher(E Murphy 15mins inj), R Fitzsimmons; N White(P Heneghan 57mins), C O'Toole(C Egan 34mins), E Killeen(J Barrett 25mins).
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