Cloughbawn confirm second spot as two teams march on
Cloughbawn 2-6 Craanford 0-9
A workmanlike Cloughbawn did enough to edge past Craanford and solidify a second place finish in Group A of the Joyces Expert Intermediate 'A' football championship in Bellefield on Saturday.
In reality there was very little between the sides. What Cloughbawn had, even without the creative influence of talismanic Colm Kehoe, was a greater goal threat and that proved critical as they grabbed majors in either half from Páidí Cullen and Martin Kehoe.
The victory means that the Castleboro side will face-off against Volunteers in an attractive and finely-balanced quarter-final. It's not all bad news for Craanford as, despite their second defeat in a row, they finished third and will face Kilmore in two weeks' time.
It says a lot about the problems the Gorey District side had that they took a 0-3 to 0-1 lead after the first quarter and it was their three half-backs on the scoresheet. Joe Berney tapped over the opener, Shane Kavanagh scored a classy second, and Michael O'Loughlin completed the unusual treble.
Against the breeze, Cloughbawn got off to a slow start. Páidí Cullen and Connal Flood put points on the board but they fell 0-4 to 0-2 behind when Des Kavanagh hit the target after strong midfield work by Peter Kavanagh.
However, the big moment of the first-half came in the 23rd minute. Barry Carton played the provider role with a strong run at the heart of the Craanford defence. He off-loaded to Cullen, who still had plenty to do, but the wing-forward caressed his shot into the roof of Derek Finn's net.
Points from Pat Murray, O'Loughlin and Matthew Nolan gave Craanford a 0-7 to 1-2 lead at the break. There was still a point in it with eleven minutes remaining when Martin Kehoe was fouled by Finn. He calmly slotted the spot-kick low to the 'keeper's right.
From that point on the biggest moment of drama came when referee Damien Donovan marked up a point on the wrong side of his scorecard.
He was corrected by linesman Justin Heffernan but the situation seemed to make Craanford lose concentration and they never came close to the goal they so badly needed.
Cloughbawn: Billy Dunne; James Dempsey, Colin Doyle, Johnny Cullen; Harry Kehoe, David Doyle-Murphy, Paudie Kehoe; Robert Kinsella (0-1), Barry Kehoe (capt.); Páidí Cullen (1-1), Connal Flood (0-1 free), Billy Wickham; Barry Carton, Martin Kehoe (1-2, 1-0 pen., 0-2 frees), Bob Whitty (0-1). Sub. - Garrett Murphy for Wickham, inj. (38).
Craanford: Derek Finn; William Conroy, James Byrne, Pat Kenny; Joe Berney (0-1), Shane Kavanagh (0-1), Michael O'Loughlin (0-2); Niall Berney, Peter Kavanagh (capt.); Mick Lyons, Pat Murray (0-2), Des Kavanagh (0-1); Ger Lyons, Matthew Nolan (0-1), James Smyth. Subs. - Jamesie Nolan (0-1) for G. Lyons (38), James O'Loughlin for M. Lyons (54), Ollie Doran for Berney (58).
Referee: Damien Donovan (Volunteers).