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Wasteful Craobh left to rue missed chances

Craobh Chiaráin's ambitions of a prolonged provincial campaign were dashed in the cruellest of manners as they succumbed to Louth's Oliver Plunkett's by 0-8 to 0-7 in their AIB Leinster Junior Football Championship 1st round replay in Drogheda last Saturday afternoon.

Having shared a 1-10 apiece draw in Chanel the previous Sunday, another tough, tight and physical encounter was anticipated and so it proved with the Louth champions doing just enough to progress to the second round.

Craobh were boosted by a bright opening in which Stephen Kirwan joined the attack to telling effect with a glorious opening score for Chiaráin's.

However, their promising start was undermined by a series of poor wides and the errant shooting of the Dublin JFC runners-up was ultimately what cost them according to team manager David Keane.

"We can not afford to put up as many wides as we did and still expect to win and unfortunately, we came up against a team good enough to punish us on the day.

"We knew after last week that it would be tight and although we were confident that we were good enough to beat Plunkett's, our shooting just wasn't good enough," he added.

Despite their profligacy, Chiaráin's remained in contention throughout thanks to the defensive solidity provided by full-back Eugene Farrell and centre-back Darren Kelly.

With the sides deadlocked at 0-5 apiece at the break, Craobh inched ahead thanks to scores by Gary Kelly and Alan McCrabbe but their erratic shooting proved their downfall with Oliver Plunkett's finishing strongly to book their place in the next round. Despite the obvious disappointment attached to the result, Craobh, who missed the influence of suspended midfielder Robbie Mahon, will have the perfect opportunity to end their promising season on a high with promotion from Division 5 of the Dublin Adult Football League still within their grasp.

However, how they regroup for their final league games against Lucan Sarsfields and Cuala will prove instructive, a fact acknowledged by manager Keane.

"The lads are definitely a bit down after that defeat but we will need to dust ourselves down and make sure that we secure a home semi-final in the play-offs.

"It will be a big ask to pick the lads up after that loss but we can't begin to feel sorry for ourselves with lots still to play for this year," added Keane.