Butler opens door to Glenanne victory
FOLLOWING the 4-2 and 3-1 Leinster Senior League conquests of Three Rock Rovers and Avoca by Glenanne and Corinthians respectively, both Glenanne and especially Pembroke Wanderers have come robustly into contention for the title which underpowered Avoca are trying to recapture from Rovers.
Much will now depend on the timing of postponements and the refixing of games to involve key players.
At least Avoca can count on Anton Scott being back in action this month. They could field only three members of their Irish Senior Cup winning team at Rathdown on Saturday, yet it was still an exploit for Corinthians to end the prestigious Blackrock club's unbeaten league record.
Having reshuffled their resources after the 9-0 defeat by Three Rock a fortnight ago, Corinthians took their chances on the break, whereas Avoca failed to capitalise on a greater volume of short corners, due in large to stout goalkeeping by Gordon Clarke.
The return of Ian Walshe to the defence and the promotion of the bustling Roger Pressage to midfield were also factors in Corinthians win. Colin Stewart gave them a first half lead from a penalty stroke, the alert Tom Connell made it 2-0 and although Trevor Dagg gave Avoca hope in converting a penalty, Colin Ross combined with Wesley Rothwell to seal the points.
However, the most notable achievement of the day was Glenanne's victory and Stephen Butler's four goal haul at Rovers' expense at Grange Road. The Tallaght team, also thriving on the counter attack, scored right from the start when Roly O'Donoghue forced a penalty stroke for youth international Butler to open his account.
Three Rock responded with some quality play but Liam Canning could beat a defiant Ian Clarke only from one set piece before half time and after Glenanne had survived a further surge, O'Donoghue skipped away again to earn a corner for Butler to, whisk the ball to the target. In the next three minutes, Rovers were over run as Alan Browne set his front runners free, setting up two more opportunities for Butler to complete his tally. A second strike from Canning came too late.
Glenanne can feel ambitious, with thoughts of a league and cup double, but Pembroke have most depth in their squad, emphasised by Saturday's 5-0 win over Railway Union (under strength in midfield) at Park Avenue. Stephen Stewart boosted his leading marksman's tally with three scores, with the neatly finishing Simon Kershaw and Paudie Carley also making contributions, while Dave Acheson made a sprightly return between the posts.