After missing a string of clear-cut chances, Janesboro survived the dismissal of Donie Curtin to reach the final of the Tuohy Cup at Fairview Rangers’ expense.
With John Tierney absent due to illness, David Donnan was again asked to perform the number 10 role in which the player has often excelled in recent weeks.
Through Donnan, Janesboro should have been out of sight within five minutes. Instead the southsiders led by just the one goal, earned when the midfielder ran off Jeffrey Judge to touch Aled Harkin’s long ball past Brian Fitzgerald.
Somehow, the rolling ball evaded the outstretched hand of onrushing goalkeeper Shane Cusack, allowing Donnan to tap into an empty net.
And Harkin was involved again for Donnan’s second big chance, pressing high in the Fairview half, only to see his unmarked team-mate deliver the ball into Cusack’s hands from close-range.
Janesboro inevitably invited more pressure from that point, looking to remain compact and break at a Fairview side that were consistently creating openings to cross.
Without a presence in the box, the resultant deliveries were mostly fruitless however, save for a Cian O’Donoghue loft that Thomas Clarke inadvertently headed on to David Hannon at the back post. Hannon headed square to an unmarked Darragh Rainsford, who blazed over from eight yards, squandering his side’s only real clear-cut chance from open-play.
Despite their more reserved outlook, Janesboro continued to carry more threat in the final-third than Paul O’Donnell’s side. The energetic Donnan prevented his side from dropping too deep, continuing to run his socks off, and twice intercepting passes from John Mullane to create half-chances for his side.
Cusack was also forced to make two strong saves from the influential Adrian Power, as Jeffrey Judge, ill-suited to the holding role in a side lacking compactness, struggled to stem the flow of chances alone.
Fairview improved marginally upon swapping Hannon and Daffy, with the former’s pace worrying ‘Boro blocker Thomas Clarke enough to earn the centre-back a yellow-card for arresting the former Herbertstown player’s run. But it was hard to avoid the thought that Hannon may have done more with this attribute of his earlier in the game against a higher Janesboro defensive-line.
Fairview started the second-half continuing to work the ball well into wide areas, with O’Donoghue striking over at the back-post from Jonathan Hannafin’s overlapping cross.
But the holes in front of their defence continued to augur poorly for O’Donnell’s side. And they should have been punished on the hour-mark, when Donie Curtin found himself free on the edge of the area to collect Power’s clever backheel, only to roll the ball into Cusack’s grateful hands.
Suspicions that Janesboro would pay for this profligacy were backed up in the 64th minute, when Rainsford was surprisingly ruled onside, upon collecting a lofted through-ball, by referee’s assistant Ryan McCann, who also detected a foul in the resultant penalty-area scramble.
Referee Mike Kiely duly pointed to the spot, and — after a lengthy protest from an incredulous Janesboro — Rainsford himself converted.
Now level, Aidan Ryan and Shane Hanlon were handed a further blow when Curtin received his marching orders by dint of a second-yellow card for a late attempt to prevent a clearance.
But, only sixty seconds later, justice for that earlier penalty flub was served in the worst possible fashion, when Shane Clarke was awarded one of his own despite the apparent absence of any contact from either Judge or Fitzgerald — both of whom were on a yellow card, incidentally.
Neither saw a second yellow, and Clarke slotted away the resultant 12-yarder, kicking off a 20-minute period in which ten-man Janesboro defended their lead comfortably.
Rainsford 64′ (pen); Donnan 3′, S. Clarke 72′ (pen)
Curtin (Janesboro, second yellow card) 71′
Man of the Match