Monksland United start new year with comprehensive league win

Monksland United 5 Birr Town 0

Five goals scored and a clean sheet saw Monksland United get the New Year off to a flying start with this comprehensive victory over fellow title challengers Birr Town at the Athlone Town Stadium on Sunday morning last.

An early penalty kick put the hosts in front while a second goal on the stroke of half time made the second half task a lot easier. The rout was completed after the break with three more scores from Tony O’Sullivan’s charges who were short of a number of regular starters.

After earning the first corner kick of the contest on six minutes, Monksland opened the scoring five minutes later. Johnny Kiernan was fouled by the goalkeeper and the resulting penalty kick saw David O’Brien send Conor Hogan the wrong way.

After earning the spot kick, Kiernan then had a chance to score himself but saw his goal bound effort blocked. Birr recovered and enjoyed the better of the exchanges until the closing stages of the half. The first chance fell to Ceilim King whose shot was saved by Cathal Hannon, who also denied Michael Cordial midway through the half.

Matt Scally fired wide for the home team as Birr’s Nathan Williams drilled a free kick over and was also off target from open play, but the Offaly team were again undone just before the break. Dylan Jinks had been caught offside on a number of previous occasions but timed his run to perfection for the second United score. Kiernan’s flick on created the opening and Jinks finished well. It was a vital score at such a crucial stage.

Considering the tightness of the contest earlier, the second half was a surprising stroll for O’Sullivan’s players. Birr did have an early chance to reduce the deficit when Ronan Bergin faced Hannon but the home keeper stood up to block the shot.

Kiernan and Jinks then had a number of chances to score and the game all but ended as a contest just after the hour mark, Kiernan was finally rewarded with a goal of his own when firing to the roof of the net from close range.

Scally had a shot saved but the Birr keeper was helpless to prevent the Land from making it four after 82 minutes as O’Brien’s free kick was deflected past the keeper.

Birr never gave up and Cordial tested Hannon from a free kick. Monksland substitute Mark Greene fired over shortly after joining the action and then set up fellow sub Aidan Reilly for the fifth goal in the penultimate minute. Reilly’s initial shot was blocked by the keeper but he reacted well to head the rebound home.

The visitors did have a couple of chances to get off the mark but a corner came to nothing and Cordial fired over in the last action of the game.

In spite of missing a couple of key defenders, the United rearguard held firm with youngsters Jack Tiernan and Michael Harrington enjoying their run out with the seniors.

 

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