AS JUNIOR football returned across the country, there was a big encounter at the Fairgreen as 2nd faced 3rd when Fairview Rangers entertained Aisling Annacotty.
It was the last of the first round of fixtures for both sides before the split to a top 6 and bottom 6 format. Both teams were also locked on 25 points with an identical record of 8 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat.
Fairview selected a 3-5-2 formation with Declan Cahill making his debut having arrived from Nenagh AFC although that was far from a straight forward transfer. He was partnered by Mark Slattery and Josh Considine while Martin Deady and AJ O’Connor were left and right-wing-backs respectively. Conor Coughlan was partnered by Ross Man up front who was playing his last game for the club before departing for Australia.
Aisling Annacotty kept faith with their trusted 4-2-3-1 formation with both Tony Whitehead and Shane Tracy holding the fort in midfield.
The home side came out of the blocks quickly, inevitably showing the greater sharpness having played Shamrock Rovers last week while Aisling Annacotty had not played since well before the Christmas break. Within 5 minutes, they had the lead as Mann raced past Thomas Clarke before coolly slotting the ball past John Mulready.
Shane O’Hanlon’s visitors probably feared that they were in for a long night when former player Conor Coughlan opened up his body and shot narrowly wide just five minutes later. However, to their credit, they grew into the game significantly and winger Shane Stack forced a decent save from Aaron Savage. Shane Clarke and Declan Cahill were involved in a physical contest and referee Andy Hall had his hands full.
Mann was in the mood to have the perfect send off and he was sent clear by Mike O’Gorman before his attempted lob of Mulready went wide. The equaliser arrived on the half hour mark as Savage spilled a Shane Tracy free-kick back into the danger area where striker Shane Clarke was waiting to tap home like he has done for many years.
As we approached half-time, both sides had a great chance apiece to take the lead. Firstly, Mulready gifted possession to O’Gorman who passed to Mann but the goalkeeper made a mends with a great save. Afterwards, Liam Quinn superbly controlled a long pass into the area but Savage saved with his feet. From the resulting corner, Quinn’s header was saved by the goalkeeper as they continued the individual duel.
As the teams emerged for the second half, AJ O’Connor had been switched into midfield with O’Gorman going to right wing-back. O’Connor and Slattery combined well to set O’Gorman up for a shooting chance but the Nenagh native misdirected the effort.
AJ Moloney was introduced as a substitute for O’Gorman as Purcell searched for a winner and more attacking impetus and the former Charleville man looked lively from the off. The home side did re-take the lead when Thomas Clarke misjudged the flight of the ball in the air which allowed Moloney to flick the ball into the path of Mann who blasted the ball beyond the advancing Mulready.
Annacotty struggled to create a big chance to equalise although substitute Aodh O’Hanluain spurned a shooting opportunity before allowing Deady to make a recovery tackle. With five minutes remaining, Fairview made sure of the victory. Moloney was once again involved as he passed the ball into Duggan who took one touch and buried the ball beyond Mulready into the bottom corner.
The win now moves Jason Purcell’s men into outright second while Annacotty remain in third position.
Fairview Rangers: Aaron Savage, AJ O’Connor, Mark Slattery (Stephen Bradley), Declan Cahill, Josh Considine Martin Deady, Jeffrey Judge, Shane Duggan, Mike O’Gorman (AJ Moloney), Conor Coughlan, Ross Mann (Eoin Duff)
Aisling Annacotty: John Mulready, Kennedy N’dip (Rhys Foley), Thomas Clarke (David O’Mahony), Eoin Murphy, Blake Curran, Tony Whitehead, Shane Tracy, Liam Quinn, Shane Stack (Adam Foley), Lorcan Feeney (Aodh O’Hanluain), Shane Clarke
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