Clare qualified for the quarter-finals of this season’s FAI Oscar Traynor Cup with a deserved 2-1 win over near-neighbours Limerick in an entertaining game played in ideal conditions at a chilly but dry Frank Healy Park.
FAI Oscar Traynor Cup Round 3 AET
Clare 2–1 Limerick
Considering the heavy rain of recent weeks, the excellent playing surface allowed for a fast, free-flowing, and very competitive contest.
Limerick travelled without their six Pike Rovers players who were pulled by their club to focus on their FAI Junior Cup campaign. Despite this the visitors enjoyed good periods of dominance in the first half, putting the home side under pressure and scoring the first goal.
Any number of soccer clichés would describe this encounter – the proverbial a game of two halves, comeback, extra time, floodlight failure, and finally a good result for the home side.
Limerick took the game to the hosts from the outset, in the third minute they won a corner on the right, the low kick crossed the goal-line needing only a touch and the Clare defence were happy to see it go wide.
Clare soaked up the early pressure and had a first attempt on goal in the 11th minute when David McCarthy’s 23-yard shot was scrambled over the bar for a corner by goalkeeper John Mulready. The Sixmilebridge man is now plying his trade with Jonesboro, having played with both Bridge Utd and Clare.
The visitors silenced the home support in the 18th minute when Darragh Rainsford’s corner caused panic in the defence and Shane Clarke seized his chance. Clare protested that the ball hadn’t crossed the line but referee Shane Hayes allowed the goal to stand. Limerick led 1-0.
Clare won a corner after 27 minutes, David McCarthy crossed for Eoin O’Brien whose header went over the bar. Five minutes later, Limerick caught Clare’s defence off-guard when Conor Kavanagh put Darragh Rainsford through but goalkeeper Barry Ryan was alert to the danger.
David McCarthy had the home side’s next chance when he picked up a clearance after Derek Fahy’s corner but once again his shot was well over the bar.
At the other end, Limerick almost went two in front in the 40th minute when Darragh Rainsford broke through the defence but with only the goalkeeper left to beat, Barry Ryan bravely blocked the shot with his body to concede a corner. Two minutes later Colin Ryan tried a shot from distance that went just wide of the mark.
At half-time Limerick led by 1-0 but the second half saw a solid improvement by the home side. Their first attack came after 51 minutes when David McCarthy’s cross to the far post was met by Derek Fahy and his shot forced a corner from John Somers.
In the 54th minute, Tommy McKeown found Eoin Hayes with a good pass but his 30-yard effort sailed over the bar. After an hour’s play Clare desperately trying for an equaliser, the ball spun out of defence towards McKeown whose overhead kick attempt was easily collected by goalkeeper Mulready.
Clare’s breakthrough came in the 62nd minute when defender Dermot Fitzgerald tried to cut the supply to Derek Fahy and only succeeded in putting the ball past his own goalkeeper to make it 1-1.
Goalkeeper John Mulready was yellow-carded by referee Shane Hayes when he was seen to push Fahy after being taunted by the attacker.
Clare almost took the lead in the 69th minute when an Eoin Hayes shot brought out the best in the Limerick goalkeeper.
Two minutes later, Barry Ryan was in action at the other end when he pulled off a great save from Conor Kavanagh.
With three minutes remaining of normal time, Derek Fahy’s cross found David McCarthy at the back post but his shot from a narrow-angle was forced a great save from Mulready.
Derek Fahy ran at the Limerick defence in the 88th minute before he was taken down by Tom Clarke just outside the penalty box.
Clarke was booked but David McCarthy’s free-kick was saved by Mulready the ball rebounded to Colin Smyth who failed to take his chance in front of an open goal.
Extra time was called for, at this stage, many supporters had enough of the cold and made their way home.
Clare pressed on for a winner and were rewarded in the first minute of the second period of extra time when Derek Fahy fired home the winner from a Dylan Casey corner.
Minutes later the floodlights failed, thankfully it was only a temporary glitch and the game was able to proceed.
Limerick tried hard to keep their Oscar Traynor hopes alive, but Clare’s defence held firm to qualify for a quarter-final meeting against Dublin AUL in Ennis in a few weeks time.