A host of avoidable individual defensive errors cost Kilmallock United an entertaining game of football against Janesboro at Pearse Stadium.
Three consecutive defeats saw Kilmallock’s beleaguered defence kick off the season by shipping 12 goals, and it wasn’t long before David Considine was stressing his lumbar to retrieve the ball from his net again this morning.
The low trajectory of Mike Ryan’s 5th-minute corner-kick made it eminently defendable, but somehow the ball found its way through to a criminally unmarked Shane Clarke, who wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to nab his 2nd goal of the season.
Despite their defensive woes, few clubs will match the share of possession that Kilmallock grabbed at Pearse Stadium this morning. The midfield triumvirate of Jason Heffernan, Paul Doona and Tommy Heffernan handed their opposite numbers a tough test, particularly the latter who was involved in the visitors’ early penalty shout.
The number ten completed a one-two with striker Barry Sheedy, but unwisely chose to return the ball again instead of pulling the trigger on the edge of the area. Janesboro goalkeeper John Mulready left his goal-line to foil Sheedy, and appeared to get a touch to the ball before the two collided. Sheedy, much to his and his sideline’s chagrin, was booked for simulation.
Having crafted the opener in rather fortunate circumstances, Ryan was involved again when the hosts doubled their advantage. Right-back Gerry Kelly stopped Ryan’s low cross, but took a touch rather than immediately clear his lines.
Arron Nunan, who has looked sharp throughout his side’s opening two fixtures, alighted upon the hesitant Kelly, allowing Clarke to step in and nab his second goal of the morning.
Although two down, Kilmallock always looked likely to regain a foothold in the game when exciting young winger Jack Barry was running with the ball. Barry, stationed on the left for the opening half-hour, got on the end of Paul Doona’s long ball and turned Danny O’Neill inside-out before shooting wide.
Frustratingly, Barry spent the majority of the first-half infield exchanging short passes with his central midfielders, when his presence on the touchline appeared a must to really put the frighteners on Janesboro’s back-line.
Despite continuing to hold their own in open play, another error saw Kilmallock fall further behind on the half-hour mark. Centre-back John Heffernan capped a difficult 45 minutes by passing the ball back to Considine with Ryan looming.
The ‘Boro winger did brilliantly to dispossess the goalkeeper with a firm but fair challenge, before tapping the ball into an empty net.
Janesboro lost left-back Lee O’Mara to a calf injury late in the first-half, and when Kilmallock responded to Craig McMarlow’s introduction by asking Barry to play wide on the right, they finally got some joy.
Former Aisling Annacotty midfielder Niall Hanley, introduced in place of John Heffernan at the break, bisected McMarlow and centre-back Donie Curtin with a lovely ball, sending Barry through on goal.
The winger, who showed his inexperience with some silly offsides throughout the game, demonstrated composure beyond his years this time, squaring to Sheedy who slammed it past Mulready from the penalty spot.
Now, with Barry staying wide, the game looked like a contest. Unfortunately for Kilmallock, those errors came back to haunt them again. Jason Heffernan, asked to fill in at centre-back for the second stanza, dawdled under an airborne ball, allowing Nunan to play pickpocket again. Considine duly rushed off his line, making the winger’s goalscoring job even easier.
Ben Burke, a striker-by-trade, performed admirably at the heart of the Kilmallock defence, but he blotted his copybook slightly on the hour-mark by unnecessarily fouling Clarke on the right of his penalty area. Janesboro’s top marksman slotted away the resultant penalty-kick to complete his hat-trick.
There was still time for Kilmallock to grab a second consolation goal. Doona feinted to shoot on the edge of the area, but instead played in Sheedy, bamboozling the entire Janesboro defence. Mulready again came off his line to deny the striker, but couldn’t avoid Killian Hayes tapping in the rebound.
Kilmallock, therefore, are still in search of a Premier Division point after four consecutive defeats. They will know that the individual defensive errors must be excised if they are to gain just reward for their eye-catching football.
Janesboro, meanwhile, bounced back from a discouraging 30-minute showing in Thursday’s abandoned Pike Rovers fixture with a morale-boosting victory. Nonetheless, Shane O’Hanlon and Aidan Ryan will know that there is still much work to be done on the training ground to plug the holes in the 2014/15 champions’ porous defence.
S. Clarke 6′, 21′, 62′ (pen), Ryan 32′, Nunan 58′; Sheedy 51′, Hayes 65′
Man of the Match