SLA Slays the Banner!

Report by Cain McKee

That time of the year has come around again, time to arrange our annual Christmas soccer match between Clare and Limerick. With the two captains of the teams in deep negotiations on which players would play for which team this year, and some tapping up of players by the Clare manager, the teams were finally decided upon and written in stone. The weather was not looking good in the days leading to the event, but with lady luck on our side, some bright winter sunshine appeared on the day of the match.

We all met at the pitch and had a quick warm up a few minutes before kick-off, some players very much in the zone and ready to get stuck in and even showing some flair during the warm up. It was clear within the opening 10 minutes that this was going to be a very tight game. Paul “Dully” Dullaghan was ever present in the Clare midfield pulling the strings and creating chance after chance for his team. The midfield dynamic duo of Mossy Sheehan and Diarmuid O’Connor were showing a midfield understanding partnership that looked similar to that of Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez back in their Barcelona days. The opening shots came for Limerick with John “The Beast” Slattery” (aka in the office as SLA) coming close to opening the scoring on a number of occasions only to either see his shot go narrowly wide or the Clare keeper Gerard Ryan to be on hand to pull off save after save

At the other end of the pitch the Limerick keeper Cain McKee was kept busy with efforts from Clare forwards John Joe Sheehy and Ian Bermingham, both coming close to opening the scoring with one on ones but with their shots being blocked by the keeper, the score line was kept at 0-0. Clare midfielder Niall Looney took it upon himself to do his best to open the scoring with a mazy run through midfield and unleashed a swerving shot to the bottom right corner just to see the left hand of Limerick keeper Cain McKee palm his shot around the post. Clare winger Colin Higgins had a back post header flicked away from the bottom corner also in the first half. Just as it looked like the first half was going to end scoreless, a ball was crossed in from the left wing and made its way toward the back post with Limerick striker John Slattery flicking the ball into the net with the outside of his right foot. Goal!

Half Time score:  Limerick 1 – 0 Clare

The 2nd half kicked off with the same intensity as the 1st half. Both teams going for it, Clare needing the equaliser more than Limerick needing to extend their lead. Clare decided to push an extra man into midfield, with Niall looney pressing forward more, he had yet another shot, this time higher into the left corner. With intrepid Limerick keeper Cain McKee having a good view of the shot he was able to push the ball away to safety. The resulting corner was dealt with and a little respite gained for Limerick.

The clock was ticking down, it was becoming now or never for the Clare team to get the elusive equaliser. Clare strikers Ian Bermingham and John Joe Sheehy having further chances to score only to shoot straight at the Limerick keeper.

Limerick midfielder Diarmuid O’Connor was superb in the 2nd half spending the half shadowing Clare midfielder Paul “Dully” Dullaghan and doing his best to stop him creating further chances for his team mates. It was one of those games that the ball would just not go in for the Clare team. Limerick finished victorious for the 2nd year running. The bragging rights were firmly their’s, and boy did the Limerick team let Clare Captain Diarmuid Nagle know the result!

Result:  Limerick 1  – 0 Clare

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