Clare collected their first win in Division 2 of the 2017 Allianz National Football League easily accounting for the challenge of Down.
Venue: Cusack Park
It is the first time since 1993 that the Banner footballers have defeated Down in the National Football League and it also means that the men in Saffron and Blue are unbeaten in their first two outings of the competition.
Colm Collins’ were superior all through the contest and their dominance was never properly tested by a poor Down outfit who have now suffered back to back defeats. A strong opening half laid the foundations for the win having established a ten point advantage at the interval.
Shane Brennan set the tone early on as he goaled inside the first three minutes. Keelan Sexton was on target three minutes later as he shot between the posts. Aidan Carr capitalised when Jamie Malone was disposed to get Down off the mark on the ninth minute.
Doonbeg’s David Tubridy pointed from a tight angle to push Clare four in front on twelve minutes and Marc Reid had to be alert shortly after to deny Eoin Cleary a green flag. Two Jamie Malone points were sandwiched between a Shay Millar white flag at a cold Cusack Park.
Tubridy added another tricky effort, this time off his left boot before Pat Havern and Sean Collins traded efforts. A well worked team move resulted in a glorious goal chance for David Tubridy but his shot went over the crossbar, one minute later he made no such mistake linking up with Keelan Sexton to shoot past Marc Reid for their second goal on the stroke of half-time.
Eoin Cleary was the only member of Clare’s full-forward line not to score in the first half, but the Miltown man made up for this kicking two of their three scores at the beginning of the second half with Jamie Malone kicking the other. The hosts took their foot off the pedal somewhat with Cleary adding one more point as they went the final twenty two minutes without the score.
Down slowly chipped away at the lead but never looked like bridging the gap. They kicked the final six points of the encounter in what marks another disappointing outing for the Éamonn Burns managed side.
An impressive opening half gave Clare an advantage that Down never looked like catching up with. Once more they spurned goal chances but they scored two goals which is an increase on last week. They worked hard and put their opponents under pressure when trying to secure possession.
They lost the second half 7-4 but the final score is the one that matters, that said they cannot afford to take their foot off the gas if they want to reach the business end of the Division. It’s a two week break until their next tie when they travel to Pearse Stadium to take on neighbours, Galway.
Clare: Joe Hayes (Lissycasey); John Hayes (Kilrush Shamrocks), Kevin Hartnett (Meelick), Martin McMahon (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Liam Markham (Cratloe), Gordon Kelly (St Josephs Miltown), Dean Ryan (Éire Óg); Ciarán Russell (Éire Óg), Gary Brennan (Clondegad); Sean Collins (Cratloe), David Tubridy (Doonbeg), Shane Brennan (Clondegad); Jamie Malone (Corofin), Eoin Cleary (St Josephs Miltown), Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane). Subs: Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen) for G Brennan (43), Darren Nagle (Liscannor) for John Hayes (47) (Inj), Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora) for Tubridy (53), Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare) for Ryan (58), David Egan (Kilmihil) for Malone (63)
Down: Marc Reid; Ryan McAleenan, Gerard McGovern, Darren O’Hagan; Conall McGovern, Niall Donnelly, Caolan Mooney; Aidan Carr, Jonathan Flynn; Joe Murphy, Cathal Magee, Shay Millar; Alan Davidson, Pat Havern, Barry O’Hagan.
Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan)
All photos by Martin Connolly