Night­mare week for Clif­ford

The Argus - - SPORT -

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).

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