Clare booked their place in the last twelve of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship with a convincing 2-17 0-13 win over Sligo.
Venue: Markievicz Park, Sligo
Páraic McMahon reports from Markievicz Park
A storming second half display left a shellshocked Sligo reeling as the Banner ensured they were in the hat for Monday’s draw to determine who they will play in the Round 4A Qualifiers. They will now face either Tipperary or Galway/Roscommon.
Colm Collins’ will be disappointed with their first half showing having made uncharacteristic errors. They made up for it in abundance in the second half outscoring Sligo 14-5.
Sligo got off to the brighter start and created a lead of four points inside the opening twenty three minutes. David Tubridy raised the first green flag of the game a minute later to cut the gap to the minimum. The Doonbeg man slotted home to the right hand corner of Aidan Deveney’s net after he fetched a Garryowen like shot of his own before being fouled.
Cratloe’s Podge Collins was shown a black card with twenty nine minutes played for a foul similar to the one he committed against Kerry that saw him dismissed in the Munster Championship at the start of June. He was replaced by Keelan Sexton with the Kilmurry Ibrickane teenager determined to prove a point after being dropped and that he did for the remainder of the game.
Frees from Adrian Marren and Mark Breheny were sandwiched between a David Tubridy converted placed ball to leave just one point separating the teams at the half-time whistle.
Breheny and Tubridy traded scores at the start of the third quarter before the Banner really got going hitting four scores in succession to take the lead for the first time with forty six minutes played.
Coolmeen’s Cathal O’Connor took the game by the scruff of the neck at midfield and became a central part to Clare’s victory. He shone during their period of dominance and finished the seventy minutes with four points all from play.
Niall Carew’s Sligo ended a thirteen minute scoring drought when Adrian McIntyre kicked over from play. However the visitors responded with white flags from O’Connor, Keelan Sexton and Eoin Cleary.
Sexton had a goal disallowed on the fifty ninth minute, excellent work from his clubmate Martin McMahon saw the corner-back tripped by Sligo goalkeeper Aidan Devanney. Despite being tripped McMahon handpassed to Sexton who kicked to the net but referee Anthony Nolan surprisingly didn’t allow the advantage and only gave Devanney a yellow card despite his foul being worse and more cynical than Podge Collins’ in the first half.
It didn’t deter Clare as captain Gary Brennan waltzed through the Sligo defence in the next attack for their second goal on sixty minutes to sink Sligo. Pearse Lillis opened his account shortly after before the hosts grabbed a goal of their own, Kyle Cawley’s shot rebounded back to Pat Hughes and he made no mistake in kicking to the back of Joe Hayes’ net.
From here the National League Champions closed out the tie with efforts from Sexton, O’Connor and Shane McGrath all sailing between the posts.
The men from the Yeats County lacked the necessary grit in the second half as Clare came out all guns blazing. On their own patch it was starling to see such little appetite from their players in a do or die championship game. They were unable to match their opponents when it came to crunch and only hit five scores in the entire second half which tells its own story.
After an underwhelming first half there was a feeling in Markievicz Park that this contest could easily slip away from Clare and the resulting tale would be of a team not doing themselves justice. That script was ripped to pieces as the Banner took the game to their Connacht counterparts and showed why they deserve to be in the last twelve.
Seven different players chipped in on the scoring for Colm Collins’ outfit, of their nineteen scores, fourteen came from play. In their win against Laois, Jamie Malone was a key man, the Corofin man was noticeably quieter today but it didn’t matter as Clare are not relying on individuals, they have players capable of making an impact from the bench and there is now serious competition to get a starting jersey. Their first half display will not suffice next weekend, they made countless unforced errors and made the wrong decisions but at the end of the day they’re in Round 4 and that’s all that matters. Cathal O’Connor was Clare’s star man and he was ably assisted by Gary Brennan, Martin McMahon and Keelan Sexton.
Clare: Joe Hayes (Lissycasey); Martin McMahon (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Kevin Hartnett (Meelick), Shane Hickey (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora), Gordon Kelly (St Josephs Miltown), Dean Ryan (Éire Óg); Gary Brennan (Clondegad) (1-00), Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen) (0-04); Sean Collins (Cratloe), Eoin Cleary (St Josephs Miltown) (0-05 2f), Jamie Malone (Corofin); Podge Collins (Cratloe), David Tubridy (Doonbeg) (1-03 1’Pen 2f), Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare) (0-01). Subs: Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane) (0-03) for P Collins (29) (BC), Shane McGrath (Thomas Davis) (0-01) for Tubridy (60), Enda Coughlan (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Lillis (62), Pat Burke (Kilmacud Crokes) for Malone (65), Seánie Malone (St Josephs Miltown) for Cleary (67), Darren Nagle (Liscannor) for Collins (69).
Sligo: Aidan Devaney (Calry St Joseph’s); Eoin Flanagan (St John’s), Kevin McDonnell (Castleconnor), Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch (St Mary’s); Keelan Cawley (Coolera/Strandhill), Daniel Maye (Tubbercurry), Neil Ewing (Drumcliffe Rosses Point); Brendan Egan (St Vincent’s), Aidan McIntyre (Tourlestrane); James Hynes (St Farnan’s), Mark Breheny (St Mary’s), Brian Egan (Tourlestrane); Adrian Marren (Curry), Niall Murphy (Coolera/Strandhill), Kyle Cawley (St Mary’s). Subs: Pat Hughes (Geevagh) for Hynes (46), Cathal Henry (Tourlestrane) for Marren (66) (BC), Noel Gaughan (Tourlestrane) for O’Kelly Lynch (67).
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)