Impressive Galway step up drive for promotion
Galway 3-13 Clare 1-11
Galway manager Kevin Walsh said they still have a lot of work to do if they are to make it back to the top flight for the first time in six years.
His men took their promotion drive up a level in difficult conditions at Pearse Stadium yesterday but Walsh cautioned that they will face a tough test away to Meath next week.
But with the Corofin contingent back in the fold - including Michael Lundy after his year in the United States - Galway have a spring in their step and took unbeaten Clare apart in Salthill despite late withdrawals through injury of Damien Comer and Danny Cummins.
"Having the lads coming back puts more pressure on again. But it's pressure all of the lads want. They want to develop the best panel.
"The Corofin lads have come back there in the last 10 days. Everybody knows that you need a strong panel. Every game so far for us, all of our subs made an impact and that's crucial as well," said Walsh.
His men occasionally took too much out of the ball with the wind behind them but they were on their way to a 14th win in 18 league meetings with Clare when they led by 2-8 to 0-5 at the break.
"We left ourselves a bit too much to do," said Clare manager Colm Collins after their first defeat of the campaign.
"There was some sloppy defending, conceded a couple of easy goals. Galway took them very well actually. But at the end of the day we got goal chances in the second-half and didn't take ours.
"But overall Galway were the better team and deserved their win," added Collins, whose side host Cork next Sunday.
Galway would have been out of sight had Clare goalkeeper Joe Hayes not produced stunning saves to deny Paul Conroy and Shane Walsh.
The Tribesmen led by 1-2 to 0-0 after six minutes when Eamon Brannigan finished low to the net, while Walsh struck five minutes from the break.
Johnny Heaney and McHugh extended Galway's lead after the restart before Clare, badly missing captain Gary Brennan in midfield, hit back.
Eoin Cleary pointed a free and then Keelan Sexton punished some sloppy defending with a goal after 45 minutes.
Walsh hit back with a point for Galway but Jamie Malone's third point of the day and a David Tubridy free cut the gap to two goals with 15 minutes remaining. But that was as close as Clare got to a win in the first league clash between these two in 22 years.
The home side broke and when wing-back Johnny Heaney had his low effort saved by Hayes, centre-back Gareth Bradshaw took his tally to 1-2 when he side-footed the rebound to the net.
Scorers - Galway: G Bradshaw 1-2, B McHugh 0-5 (4f), S Walsh 1-1, E Brannigan 1-0, M Daly, P Conroy, J Heaney, M Lundy and G O'Donnell 0-1 each. Clare: E Cleary 0-4 (3f), K Sexton 1-0, J Malone 0-3, D Tubridy 0-2 (f), L Markham and C Russell 0-1 each.
Galway - R Lavelle 7; D Kyne 7, D Walsh 7, L Burke 7; G O'Donnell 7, G Bradshaw 9, J Heaney 7; P Conroy 8, F O Curraoin 7; T Flynn 7, M Daly 8, E Brannigan 7; S Walsh 8, B McHugh 7, M Lundy 7. Subs: G Sice 7 for Flynn (60), L Silke 6 for Heaney (65), S Armstrong 6 for Brannigan (67), C Sweeney 6 for Daly (72).
Clare - Joe Hayes 8; M McMahon 6, K Hartnett 6, John Hayes 6; L Markham 7, G Kelly 6, D Ryan 6; C O'Connor 6, C Russell 7; C O'Dea 6, K Sexton 7, S Brennan 6; E Cleary 7, D Tubridy 7, J Malone 7. Subs: S Malone 6 for Brennan (53), D Egan 6 for O'Dea (59), E Collins 6 for Markham (62), G O'Brien 6 for Russell (70), K Malone 6 for Ryan (70).
REF - Fergal Kelly (Longford).