Newport’s Colin Floyd is blocked by Clonakenny’s John Costigan.

Clonakenny look up as Newport look down

Clonakenny 1-20

Newport 0-17

Report: Shane Brophy in Nenagh

2020 O Riain Cup semi-finalists Newport will be involved in a relegation battle this year as they were outgunned by Clonakenny who progressed to the quarter finals with an impressive victory to finish runners-up in group 2.

Clonakenny pipped Silvermines by just two points on score difference after both sides finished with three points from as many games, with Clonakenny producing a strong second half performance to see off a Newport side, who wilted under the pressure.

Off the back of their impressive round 2 win over Silvermines, Newport went into this game as strong favourites but the ease in which they achieved that victory might have come against them and made them believe they were better than they were as on this occasion Clonakenny gave them no time and space on the ball.

On the other hand, Clonakenny played this game perfectly, they stayed with Newport up to half time, making their move in the second half and the longer the game went on the stronger they got leaving the Mulcair men well-beaten by the finish.

Newport’s frustration all through could be seen in their indiscipline where they conceded cheap from frees where Stephen Maher was in impressive form. As well as that, they struggled to curtail the physicality of Clonakenny in the air where Cian O’Dwyer, Delacy Byrne and Nicky Ryan were a great source of ball-winners all through.

As well as that, they had a terrific conductor in attack in Bobby Bergin, who while only scoring one point, his greater impact was bringing others into the play where he had a hand in many of their scores.

Defensively, Clonakenny kept a lively Newport attack in check where Daniel Carew and Darragh Carroll did well, but Colin Floyd’s impact was well curtailed by John Costigan, Diarmuid Ryan and co.

Newport got off to the livelier start with Sean O’Brien and Daniel Carew putting the North men into an early lead but already the fluency they showed against Silvermines wasn’t there, despite them dominating the first half. Stephen Maher got Clonakenny off the mark in the fifth minute, but Newport were on the front foot with Cian Flanagan adding a third.

Maher and Delacy Byrne brought Clonakenny level by the ninth minute, but Newport were the better side in the first quarter with Kealan Floyd adding three points with Colin Floyd also on target as they led 0-7 to 0-4 at the first water-break with Cian O’Dwyer getting Clonakenny’s other score.

O’Dwyer was a thorn in the Newport side which required Sean O’Brien to be switched onto him to limited effect as he pointed again, adding to another two Maher frees to reduce the deficit to the minimum on 22 minutes; the Newport score in this period being a superb long range Darragh Carroll effort.

Newport reasserted themselves through Kealan Floyd and Peter O’Sullivan points before Bobby Bergin got his name on the scoresheet for Clonakenny. Daniel Carew cancelled it out before a long range Stephen Maher free brought and end to the scoring for the half with Newport in front, 0-11 to 0-9.

Two Carew points from play early in the second half were answered by Maher (free) and O’Dwyer but the sense was growing the tide was turning as Stephen Maher got his second from play before he scored the crucial goal on 37 minutes to give them the lead for the first time, with Delacy Byrne and Bobby Bergin playing key roles in the build-up.

Newport responded well with a Darragh Carroll point but Clonakenny were growing in belief as they took the game to their opponents, forcing frees which saw Stephen Maher’s points head towards double figures. A Kealan Floyd free was cancelled out by a first point for Nicky Ryan as Clonakenny led 1-15 to 0-15 at the second water break.

Newport missed some good chances to eat into the deficit before Peter O’Sullivan found the target but they were treading water and when another Stephen Maher free was added to by a superb catch and point from Nicky Ryan, Clonakenny knew they were in a winning position and they kicked on with sub Matthew O’Sullivan scoring twice and with Nicky Ryan adding a third, suddenly the lead was out to seven points and there was no way back for Newport who managed only one further points through Darragh Carroll.

Their mood was made doubly worse by Silvermines win over Templederry which sends them into the pressurised relegation playoffs, while for Clonakenny their quest for the O Riain Cup remains alive.

Player of the Match: Bobby Bergin (Clonakenny)

Clonakenny: Willie Costigan (6); Alexei Harty (7), Diarmuid Ryan (8), John Costigan (7); Tom Carroll (6), John Joe Ryan (7), Willie Ryan (7); Michael John Carroll (7), Pa Ryan (6); Delacy Byrne (0-1, 7), Conor Shanahan (6), Cian O’Dwyer (0-3, 8); Nicky Ryan (0-3, 7), Bobby Bergin (0-1, 8), Stephen Maher (1-10, 0-8f) 8).

Sub: Matthew O’Sullivan (0-2, 7) for Shanahan (51).

Newport: Paul Hogan (6); Jordan Young (6), Odhran Floyd (6), Andrew Hickey (6); Conor Floyd (6), Conor O’Mahony (6), Sean O’Brien (0-1, 7); Cian Flanagan (0-1, 7), Peter O’Sullivan (0-2, 7); Thomas Floyd (6), Darragh Carroll (0-3, 1f) 7), Daniel Carew (0-4, 8); Colin Floyd (0-1, 6), Pa Ryan (6), Kealan Floyd (0-5, 4f) 6).

Subs: Rob Houlihan (6) for Young (36 inj); Aidan Moloney (6) for T Floyd (53).

Referee: John Cleary (Knockshegowna).