THERE was an unmistakable sense of pride and achievement around Roslevan on Sunday as Avenue United gathered to celebrate the opening of their new €260,000 home grounds.
A monumental voluntary effort has gone into restoring the former GAA grounds to a top class playing facility. Avenue United have a permanent home of their own but the people who made the dream move a reality know that events on the field remain the prime indicator of the club’s health.
In that respect, the club’s junior sides delivered in spades on Sunday. Avenue United (A) edged a tight 2-1 encounter with local rivals Ennis Town Rock while later that afternoon; their B team counterparts strolled to a 4-1 victory over another Ennis side, Turnpike Rovers.
Sunday’s result is another step on what is looking an increasingly inevitable march to another Premier Division title for Avenue.
It’s true that the honor of scoring the first goal in competitive league action at Roslevan fell to Ennis Town Rock’s Joe Collins. But with Sunday’s loss steering Rock towards an end of season relation dogfight, that distinction felt like cold comfort at the end of typically hectic game between the sides.
Avenue secured all three points in the second half when Eamon O’Reilly’s cross found the net via the head of Town defender Shane Daniels.
The visitors had earlier taken the lead through Collins’ superb strike but overall Avenue looked the more cohesive unit and deserved the three points.
A very impressive defensive effort buttressed by strong displays from David Russell and Eamon O’Reilly provided the foundation for victory. Colin Smyth and Mark Roche played with plenty of invention and guile while David McCarthy provided his by now customary moment of magic
Richie Neylon, Collins and goalkeeper Marty Whelan were among Ennis Town Rock’s better performers on the day.
The first goal of this latest chapter in Avenue’s history arrived in the 14th minute at the wrong end, at least from the host’s perspective.
A wonderfully surging run and shot from Collins was momentarily halted around 20 yards from the Avenue goal. The midfielder retained possession, swiveled on his right and planted a glorious shot past John Healy to the top corner.
The visitors had a great chance to double their lead in the 22nd minute when Gary Collins saw his one on one effort saved by Healy.
Playing against a strong wind, Avenue started to boss proceedings. The pressure paid off when McCarthy gained possession from a cleared corner. The midfielder measured a high arcing shot over Whelan to make it 1-1.
Stephen Hickey saw a goal rubbed out for offside midway through the second half, much to the annoyance of Town. Avenue took the lead in the 55th minute. Shane Daniels stooped to clear O’Reilly’s cross but the ball skimmed of the top of his head and into the net.
Town were reduced to 10 men when Neylon was sent off after receiving a second yellow card. O’Reilly and Russell both went close from corners as Avenue held out for victory. New pitch but same old Avenue.
John Healy, David Herlihy, Eamon O’Reilly, Mattie Nugent, David Russell, Colin Smyth, Mark Roche, David McCarthy, Scott Hennessy, Barry Nugent, Mikey Mahony Subs Nikki Twumasi for Roche
Ennis Town Rock
Marty Whelan, Gary Walsh, Jason White, Shane Daniels, Richie Neylon, Francis Daniels, Joe Collins, Michael Dinan, Dean Gardiner, Gary Collins, Stephen Hickey Subs Gary Browne for White, Noel Frawley for F Daniels, Graham Glynn for Gardiner
Referee Martin O’Brien