Nightmare week for Clifford
respect the rules but he’s just really a victim of naivety,” said Kenny.
“He had a Sky Bet account in his own name online. He wasn’t trying to hide anything. Every bet he had was an accumulator. They were only £5 and £10 accumulators. Overall on the bets he lost £600 so he’s not the cleverest of gamblers.
“It’s just very harsh to be banned and your reputation in tatters with no wages for six months. He’s not guilty of being involved in anything. It was just real naivety.”
Kenny admitted that Clifford hadn’t made the impact he had hoped for since joining the club at the start of the season but insisted he would be a loss for the rest of the campaign.
“Conor would have been important on Tuesday with Chris out.
“He hasn’t had the season he wanted but I think the competition with Chris Shields and Stephen O’Donnell was a factor. When a team has won three leagues it’s hard to break into it. He’s probably come in sometimes and done well and then found himself left out.”
Owen Heary’s side had arguably shaded the first half of Wednesday’s cup final with Dayle Rooney going closest on the 20 minute mark when his attempt from the half way line almost caught out Gabriel Sava.
However, it was Dundalk who led at the break when Clifford rifled a stunning free kick to the top left hand corner after Jamie McGrath had been fouled by David O’Leary.
Clifford then went close to a second four minutes after the restart when his long range drive came off the inside of Dean Delany’s post.
The woodwork would then deny Dundalk again on 53 minutes when Thomas Stewart’s cross was met by the head of McGrath who saw his effort come back off the crossbar.
The introduction of eventual man of the match James English seconds later would have a huge impact on the game as he almost gave Shels an instant equaliser only to be denied by a brilliant stop by Sava.
Just two minutes later Shels did equalise with a stunning free kick of their own from Rooney.
After Stewart had been denied by the legs of Delany, the First Division side then took the lead on 81 minutes with a close range header from Adam Evans.
Just when it looked that the visitors were set to triumph, Cian Flynn got away on the right. His cross was missed by James Brown with Jake O’Connor getting a leg to it to make it 2-2.
Carlton Ubaezuono then went agonisingly close to a winner in stoppage time with a superb run up the left past four players that ended with him fizzing a shot across the goal and wide.
Shels would ensure their 20th Leinster Senior Cup win and their first since beating Bray Wanderers in 2010 with two goals in the first half of extra-time. The first arrived on 95 minutes when English broke down the right to cross for Evans to turn in his second.
Then in stoppage time at the end of the half English fired home from the spot despite Sava getting a hand to it after Ubaezuono had fouled Rooney.
The game would end up a sour note as four minutes from the end Shels sub Niall Lanigan, who only came on three minutes earlier, was shown a straight red card for an awful challenge on Dean Watters.
DUNDALK: Sava; Woods, Traynor, Smith, Grimes (Rice 78); Clifford, O’Connor; Flynn, McGrath (Watters 71), Ubaezuono, Stewart (O’Keefe 72). Subs not used: Kelly, Finnegan, Townley, Gorham.
SHELBOURNE: Delany; Brown, Prendergast, Collins, Kavanagh; Byrne; Rooney, O’Leary, O’Brien (Lanigan 113), Grimes (English 53), Evans. Subs not used: Quinn, Molloy, Lyons, Ashe, Ryan.
REFEREE: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).