Wednesday 28 September 2016

McGrath completes a superb twin success for the Banner

Clare 0-14 Laois 1-10

John Fallon

Published 11/07/2016 | 02:30

Shane McGrath celebrates scoring the winning point. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Shane McGrath celebrates scoring the winning point. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

A great weekend for the Banner County was completed when Colm Collins' footballers came from behind to bring Laois' summer to an end in wet and windy conditions in Cusack Park yesterday.

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But the conditions mattered little to Clare as they followed up their hurlers' success by scoring a first win in four qualifier clashes against Laois.

Gary Walsh of Laois in action against Enda Coughlan. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Gary Walsh of Laois in action against Enda Coughlan. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Podge Collins, son of the manager and brother of wing-back Sean, was held in reserve until the second-half, having played a key role in the hurlers' win over Limerick on Saturday.

Laois looked set for the next round when they led by four points after 51 minutes but failed to score again after that.

"We didn't score for the final quarter and that's a damning statistic in itself," said Laois manager Mick Lillis, a native of Cooraclare and probably the only Clare man not celebrating after the weekend.

"It's very hard to win games if you don't come strong at the end. Clare came strong but it wasn't as if we didn't have opportunities."

Clare players, from left, Dean Ryan, Jamie Malone, Kevin Hartnett, Martin McMahon and Gordon Kelly react after conceeding a free. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Clare players, from left, Dean Ryan, Jamie Malone, Kevin Hartnett, Martin McMahon and Gordon Kelly react after conceeding a free. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Laois settled well but points from John O'Loughlin and Donie Kingston were cancelled by Eoin Cleary and Cathal O'Connor, with both sides crowding their rearguards.

Level

Laois looked to be on their way when Conor Meredith, David Conway and Darren Strong were on target to give the O'Moore men a 0-6 to 0-3 lead after 22 minutes.

But Keelan Sexton added to points from Cleary and Jamie Malone to level the scores again.

Then Laois struck for the game's only goal, a well-worked effort involving Meredith, Colm Begley and Kingston which was finished to the net by wing-back Stephen Attride for a cracking score.

Clare manager Colm Collins celebrates his victory. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Clare manager Colm Collins celebrates his victory. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

That helped Laois lead by 1-7 to 0-7 at the break, with both teams struggling after the restart as the rain got heavier and the wind picked up speed.

Cleary pointed for Clare with a free before O'Loughlin got his third but Laois only managed three points in the second half and Kingston's excellent effort after 51 minutes, remarkably, turned out to be their last.

Clare drew level three minutes from time through Malone before McGrath's winner broke Laois hearts.

"It's a great weekend for Clare GAA, we had a really good win last night in Thurles," said Clare boss Collins.

"It's nice to follow that up with a win and to be very interested in the draw on Monday morning."

scorers - Clare: E Cleary 0-4 (4f), J Malone 0-3, G Brennan (1f), C O'Connor, K Sexton, D Tubridy (1f), S Hickey, S Malone, S McGrath 0-1 each. Laois: J O'Loughlin, D Kingston (2f) 0-3 each, S Attride 1-0, C Meredith, D Conway, D Strong, P Cahillane (1f) 0-1 each.
Clare - J Hayes 7; S Hickey 7, K Hartnett 7, M McMahon 7; S Collins 7, G Kelly 6, C O'Dea 6; G Brennan 7, C O'Connor 7; J Malone 7, K Sexton 7, P Lillis 6; E Cleary 8, D Tubridy 7, P Burke 6. Subs: D Ryan 6 for Burke (35), P Collins 7 for Tubridy (48), E Coughlan 6 for Sexton (55), S McGrath 7 for O'Connor (56), S Malone 7 for Lillis (65), Tubridy for J Malone (74, black card).
Laois - G Brody 6; D O'Connor 6, M Timmons 6, G Hanrahan 6; S Attride 8, K Lillis 6, D Strong 6; B Quigley 7, J O'Loughlin 7; K Meaney 6, C Begley 6, P Cahillane 6; C Meredith 6, D Kingston 7, D Conway 6. Subs: A Farrell 6 for Strong (42, black card), M Campion 6 for Begley (45), G Walsh 6 for Conway (49), R Munnelly 6 for Cahillane (51), J Farrell 6 for Meaney (62).
ref - Marty Duffy (Sligo)

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