Anthony Kelly of Clonown Rovers and Killeigh’s Luke Hensey in action during the Combined Counties Cup game last Sunday. Photos: Paul Molloy.

Clonown battle back to seal place in next round

SOCCER: Combined Counties Cup Second Round

Clonown Rovers 4 Killeigh 2

Eamon A. Donoghue reports

Clonown Rovers' strong second-half display was enough to see off Killeigh in this Combined Counties Cup second round game in Clonown last Sunday.

Killeigh sprayed the ball about the mucky ground and dominated possession in the first 30 minutes, and they took the lead early on.

Clonown came more into the game before half-time. The hosts looked the fitter side and Killeigh seemed to tire. In the early exchanges, Clonown’s only avenue to goal was Roscommon's All-Ireland winning captain from 2006, David Flynn. The centre-forward was threatening every time he got possession and with his direct running and physical strength, the alarm bells were ringing for the visitors from Offaly.

Killeigh scored first and the goal came in the tenth minute. After a shot by Luke Hensey was blocked by Dylan Potter, the ball rebounded perfectly for Jamie Ballesty and he drove the ball to the roof of the Clonown net.

Killeigh continued to dominate and, in the 20th minute, David English played in Hensey on goal and he was fouled. The referee signalled a penalty. Jake O’Connell took the responsibility with the spot kick but his attempt was feeble and Clonown keeper Neill Hannon saved comfortably. Killeigh had missed an opportunity to extend their lead.

During Killeigh’s dominant opening 30 minutes, Clonown’s only threat came from Flynn. He was getting close to opening their account and at this stage he was Clonown’s only bright light on a dull cold morning. Killeigh started to tire and Clonown were getting a second wind.

The hosts started to dominate and, after Flynn doing the heavy work, Tope Oladiti finished with aplomb past Jack Owens in the Killeigh goal.

As they started to grow in confidence, Clonown then took control of the game. They were then knocking the ball about and they looked much fresher than Killeigh. Oladiti this time made the hard yards down the left flank before crossing the ball and Marko Nadj's header nestled in the Killeigh net.

Clonown’s second goal rattled Killeigh and after dominating 30 plus minutes of the first half, they found themselves 2-1 behind at half time.

The Athlone side continued where they left off before half-time, and they scored again in the 55th minute. This time it was Flynn who scored and it was an individual goal by the striker. Flynn was again Direct and strong in possession when beating opponents, this time he finished off his hard work himself. Clonown led 3-1 heading into the last quarter.

Killeigh brought on fresh legs and it gave them the advantage again on the heavy ground. English was involved before substitute Christy Haughian finished low and hard from outside the box. The game was back alive and Killeigh were on top. They bombarded the Clonown 18-yard box but the home side's defence held out.

Clonown rubber stamped the result in the closing stages. From a free out near the sideline, everyone was expecting a cross but Ruairi Lenehan spotted Killeigh keeper Owens off his line. Lenehan let fly and his shot found the corner of the net. And with that it was game over.

Overall, Clonown deserved the win. It took them a while to get going but once they got a grip on the game, they didn’t let go. They took their chances better and they will approach the third round full of confidence.

Man of the match: David Flynn (Clonown Rovers). Flynn’s hustling and bustling and direct running with the ball caused all sorts of problems for Killeigh.

Key moment: Killeigh’s missed penalty when they were dominant and 1-0 up was key. If Killeigh had taken a 2-0 lead, they would have had a better cushion to hold on to when they tired.

Clonown Rovers: Neill Hannon, Eoin Meaney, Kevin Cleary, Dylan Potter, Eoghan Tubridy, Ruairi Lenehan, Marko Nadj, David Flynn, Nathan Rushe, Konrad Jagodzinski, Tope Oladiti. Subs used: Daniel Guinan (Guidan) for Jagodzinski (41 mins), Anthony Kelly for Rushe (55).

Killeigh: Jack Owens, Johnny Roe, Stephen Dwane, Rob O’Neill, Mark Devery, Jake O’Connell, Gary Leavy, Ryan Dunne, Jamie Ballesty, Luke Hensey, David English. Subs used: David Mullery for Hensey (56 mins), Rob Scully for O’Connell (64), Christy Haughian for Leavy (87).

Referee: Martin Buckley.