Ryan point enough to see off wasteful Antrim
Antrim suffered another league defeat as they were edged out by table-toppers Clare at Casement Park yesterday, but it could have been all so different.
The Saffrons were lightweight in attack where only Neil McManus really troubled the visitors' rearguard. Granted, the winners were without six of their selected lineout, and they also saw Fergal Lynch red-carded in the 52nd minute, but they made up for all that with a fine display of running and passing.
The home side got off to a great start when McManus rocketed a penalty to the Clare net in the second minute and led by 1-1 to 0-1 after seven minutes. Points by Clare free-taker Colin Ryan, Fergal Lynch and Diarmuid McMahon had the game level six minutes later.
Both sides traded points for the rest of the first half with the scores level on two other occasions. Clare moved 0-9 to 1-3 ahead after 33 minutes but two late points by McManus, the second a massive strike from midfield, left Antrim trailing by 0-9 to 1-5 at the break.
Two points each were hit over in the opening quarter hour of the second half but over the next 13 minutes only two points were scored, both for Clare by Sean Collins and Ryan. That was the end of Clare's scoring while Paul Shiels and Colm McFall brought Antrim back to just one point adrift.
Clare's defence survived a testing closing stage as it beat out a number of Antrim raids that should really have produced an equaliser.
SCORERS -- Clare: C Ryan 0-5 (0-5f), B Nugent 0-3, D McMahon, F Lynch 0-2 each, S Collins 0-1. Antrim: N McManus 1-3 (1-0 pen), P Shiels 0-3, S McNaughton, C McFall, A Smylie 0-1 each.
CLARE -- P Brennan; P Vaughan, C Dillon, G O'Grady; B Bulger, J McInerney, P Donnellan; S Collins, A O'Brien; F Lynch, B Barrett, D McMahon; D Honan, A Markham, C Ryan. Subs: B Nugent for Honan (15), C O'Donovan for O'Brien (22), M Flaherty for Markham (47), M Murphy for Barrett (64), E Glynn for Donnellan (69).
ANTRIM -- G McGhee; A Graffin, C Donnelly, M Scullion; M McAuley, K McKeegan, C Herron; P Shiels, PJ O'Connell; S McCrory, N McManus, S McNaughton; B McFall, C McFall, C McAllister. Subs: A Smylie for McAllister (h-t), T McCann for Scullion (47), D Hamill for McCrory (53), S McKeague for B McFall (61), E McCloskey for O'Connell (68).
REF -- B Kelly (Westmeath).