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Friday 18 August 2017

Brave Craobh must go again

LEINSTER CLUB JFC

Craobh Chiaráin displayed all their customary battling qualities when drawing 1-10 apiece after extra-time with Oliver Plunkett's from Drogheda in their thrilling Leinster Junior Football Championship 1st round encounter at Chanel last Sunday afternoon.

There were stages throughout the keenly-contested clash that Craobh enjoyed dominance over their opponents but they were thankful of securing extra-time following Kieran McGowran's levelling score in the 59th minute.

"Our lads played well," said Chiaráin's manager David Keane.

"They dug deep against what were a very physical Plunkett's team and although we looked in trouble at times, I think we more than deserved another chance," he added.

After overcoming Amsterdam in Maastricht at the start of the month, Craobh started brightly through a 6th minute point from Gary Kelly but they were rocked by the concession of a goal to Plunketts' Dean Carolan a minute later.

However, Chiaráins bounced back well from that body blow through scores by Stephen McDonald, Keith Elliott and Darren Kelly and they received a further boost at the end of the first quarter as Mark McGuirk converted a penalty to push the Donnycarney outfit three points clear.

Despite Mark Taaffe responding for the Louth champions, Craobh continued to impress and further scores by Robbie Mahon and McDonald ensured Chiaráins a deserved 1-7 to 1-3 interval advantage.

That momentum stalled somewhat when Mahon was dismissed in the 42nd minute and their opponents took advantage as they trimmed their deficit through points by Taaffe, Brian Fitzpatrick, Adam Brodigan and Cian Matthews.

Craobh struggled to create chances during this period but after missing a chance to level matters two minutes previously, McGowran confirmed extra-time when pointing late to ensure a 1-8 apiece stalemate.

Conor Early and Stephen Kelly exchanged scores in the first period but Craobh looked to have landed the pivotal score when McGuirk pointed from a penalty but Taaffe's point at the death necessitated a replay next Saturday afternoon in Drogheda (2.00).

"Missing Robbie (Mahon) for the replay will be a blow but we have Alan McCrabbe to come back from suspension and that is a massive boost for us," said Keane.

"After playing on Sunday, I think we have a better idea of what to expect and I was very happy with the strength of our bench as all the lads that came on did a very good job for us and I reckon we may have better options around the field than they do.

"We would be confident enough going up there and we are enjoying the prospect and experience of playing in Leinster as it is a bit different to what we normally would expect," Keane added.

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