Fitzgerald: 'There's room for improvement'
Clare 5-32 Laois 0-12 All-Ireland SHC Qualifier
Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald said there is still plenty of room for improvement after they advanced to Round 2 of the All-Ireland qualifiers following a 35-point annihilation of Laois at Cusack Park in Ennis.
Clare were awesome at times, while Laois bowed out of the championship with a whimper, with Ben Conroy and joint-captain Charles Dwyer both shown red cards.
Three goals from Aron Shanagher and one each from Shane O'Donnell and Podge Collins made it easy for Clare, who are surely the team to avoid in the second round.
Fitzgerald said his side were hurting following their semi-final loss to Waterford and they need to keep their heads intact prior to next weekend's second round.
"Laois can cause you problems at times, I have seen it against Galway over the last year or two," Fitzgerald said.
"But we were up for today and it has been a long and hard month, and they were just unlucky that we were in the form that we were today.
"If we're straight we didn't perform in the Munster semi-final and we are hurting after that.
"People can say what they want. I don't think one game makes us a bad team. We made mistakes. Waterford deservedly beat us, but we are better than we played that day.
"In fairness, out of the 15 games we have played this year, that was our only loss. We are looking forward to next week," added Fitzgerald.
But Laois ended their summer early once more and manager Seamus Plunkett will be disappointed to see his side capitulate in such a manner.
They only trailed by 1-7 to 0-5 with ten minutes remaining in the first-half, but following Conroy's red card they fell to pieces, and their poor season ended on a familiar tone after they were pointless in the league earlier on.
"This year was a stand-still year. I am not making any excuses," Plunkett said.
"It is thoroughly disappointing, there was a huge amount of work put into it and we were comprehensively beaten.
"We need everything going right for us to be able to compete at this level. But hats off to Clare, they were very impressive, great mobility and movement around the field. These are teams that have the ability to win All-Irelands that we are playing here, Laois just needs to keep knocking on the door. We cannot give up.
"I was very proud of the team here today, even though a lot of the things were going against us, and certainly the scoreboard, but every single player on the team just kept fighting until the end."
Scorers - Clare: A Shanagher 3-1; T Kelly 0-10 (3f); P Collins, S O'Donnell 1-3; C O'Connell 0-5 (4f); D McInerney 0-3; C Galvin, J Conlon, C Cleary 0-2; S Golden 0-1.
Laois: W Hyland 0-3 (3f); E Rowland (2f), C Dwyer 0-2 each; PJ Scully (1f), W Dunphy, N Foyle, M Kavanagh, M Whelan 0-1.
Clare - A Fahy 7; C Dillon 6, O O'Brien 7, P O'Connor 7; J Browne 6, D McInerney 8, B Bugler 7; C Cleary 7, D Reidy 7; C Galvin 8, P Collins 8, J Conlon 8; T Kelly 9, S O'Donnell 8, A Shanagher 9.
Subs: D Fitzgerald 6 for McInerney (43), S Morey 6 for Cleary (43), C O'Connell 7 for Kelly (48), S Golden 6 for Reidy (52), C Ryan 6 for Conlon (55)
Laois - E Rowland 7; R Mullaney 5, D Palmer 5, C Healy 6; M Whelan 5, L Bergin 4, P Purcell 5; J Lennon 5, B Conroy 4; C Dwyer 5, PJ Scully 5, C Stapleton 6; N Foyle 7, W Dunphy 6, W Hyland 7.
Subs: R King 6 for Bergin (9), P Lawlor 6 for Healy (28), M Kavanagh 7 for Scully (41), D Maher 6 for Stapleton (49), J Phelan 6 for Dunphy (58).
Ref - B Kelly (Westmeath)