Fitzy's Banner flying high towards promotion

CLARE'S march to promotion from Division 1B continued to gather pace yesterday in Portlaoise after the Banner County beat Teddy McCarthy's Laois (2-22 to 2-13) to preserve their own 100 per cent record in 2012.

Clonlara forward John Conlon was the catalyst for most of what was good about the Banner early on and he plundered 1-3 and set up Seán Collins' goal midway through the first half.

Laois performed commendably, though, and goals from Willie Hyland and Neil Foyle kept them competitive at least but the free-scoring Colin Ryan (0-5, 3f) and Patrick Donnellan (0-4) made sure of a third straight win for Davy Fitzgerald's men who will enjoy home advantage against Wexford next weekend in Ennis.

OFFALY, meanwhile, withstood a late barrage from ANTRIM before finally sealing both points in O'Connor Park Tullamore, 1-22 to 1-17.

Having let a nine-point lead slip to Wexford just a week previous, the Faithful County ran up a 1-17 to 0-8 lead by the 48th minute of the match, with Shane Dooley typically contributing the lion's share with 1-10 (0-10f).

However, buoyed by a scrappy goal from substitute, Declan Lynch, the Saffrons rallied and reduced the deficit to four points on four different occasions but failed to reel the home side in any further.

It is LIMERICK, however, who look the most likely to join Clare in a promotion play-off after they soundly beat WEXFORD by 2-20 to 0-18 in Wexford Park yesterday - their second win on the spin. After a tight opening, David Breen's 21st minute goal supplied momentum for the Shannonsiders and with the impressive Breen and Niall Moran winning their battles down the spine of the Treaty County's attack, John Allen's determined men never took a backwards step.

Breen finished up with 1-2 from centre-forward while Moran harvested no less than 1-5 from full-forward and although the former was dismissed for a second yellow card offence, his team sailed home regardless.