Sunday 17 December 2017

Clare comeback stuns Lilies as Dean Ryan grabs late goal in frantic finish

Clare 2-17 Kildare 1-19

Clare's Jamie Malone in action against Kildare's Ryan Houlihan during last night's Allianz Football League Division 3 final at Croke Park Photo: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Clare's Jamie Malone in action against Kildare's Ryan Houlihan during last night's Allianz Football League Division 3 final at Croke Park Photo: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Clare captain Gary Brennan lifts the cup Photo: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Kildare's Paul Cribbin tries to escape a challenge from Clare's Cian O'Dea Photo: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Declan Rooney

Clare staged a remarkable comeback to clinch the Allianz Division 3 title thanks to Dean Ryan's goal in the 70th minute against 13-man Kildare. In a frantic finish, Clare also had Graham Kelly red-carded, but after Neil Flynn's 74th minute leveller, Eoin Cleary kicked a point in the seventh minute of added time to win it for Clare.

It seemed as if Kildare had finally shaken off the Clare challenge when Paul Cribbin kicked two late points to put them three points up with a minute to go, but Clare captain Gary Brennan laid on his second goal of the game for Ryan, before the late mayhem.

After ten minutes, Clare's hopes for this game looked to be dead and buried as they trailed by 1-5 to 0-2, and they were being torn asunder at the back by the class of Neil Flynn.

The U-21 player got Kildare on the board with a first-minute free, and after Tubridy and Jamie Malone gave Clare a brief lead, Kildare devoured them in a stunning five-minute spell which left the opposition stunned.

It certainly didn't look like it would be Clare's day at that stage in this hard-fought affair.

Flynn pointed from play to level the game and Tommy Moolick soon drilled over the lead point, but Flynn was devastating for the game's opening goal after seven minutes.

Seán Malone looked to be tight on the young Maynooth man, but he eased past the Clare defender, cut in from the endline, dummied to shoot to round the goalkeeper, and fired home into the back of the net.

Tubridy landed five frees before the interval as Clare gradually wound in Cian O'Neill's side. And in the final minute of the half he displayed his nose for a goal to give his side the lead at the break.

After such a slow start Clare deserved their 1-10 to 1-9 interval lead, and only an intervention from Hawkeye denied them a two-point lead a minutes after half-time.

And, while they went toe-to-toe with Kildare, they never lead by two scores after that. Adam Tyrell led the Kildare charge and his superb four points before his withdrawal and another from Fergal Conway had Kildare two ahead by the 50th minute.

Kevin Feely was sent off for a second yellow card 12 minutes from time, before Kelly and Ryan Houlihan joined him in added time, but Clare could celebrate what had been a truly remarkable comeback.

Scorers - Clare: D Tubridy 1-5 (0-5f), E Cleary 0-5 (0-4f), D Ryan 1-0, J Malone 0-2, P Lillis 0-2, K Sexton 0-1, P Collins 0-1, E Coughlan 0-1. Kildare: N Flynn 1-6 (0-5f), A Tyrrell 0-6 (0-4f), E O'Flaherty 0-2, P Cribbin 0-2, A Smith 0-1, T Moolick 0-1, F Conway 0-1

Clare: J Hayes; S Malone, D Ryan, K Harnett; S Collins, M McMahon, C O'Dea; G Brennan, C O'Connor; E Cleary, K Sexton, J Malone; P Lillis, D Tubridy, P Burke. Subs: P Collins for S Malone (h-t), S McGrath for Burke (54), E Coughlan for O'Dea (67), G Kelly for Sexton (67), S Haugh for Lillis (76), J O'Dea for McMahon (77 BC)

Kildare: M Donnellan; D Hyland, O Lyons, C Fitzpatrick; R Houlihan, F Conway, J Byrne; K Feely, T Moolick; A Tyrrell, E O'Flaherty, P Cribbin; A Smith, E Callaghan, N Flynn. Subs: C McNally for Callaghan (46), K Murnaghan for Tyrrell (54), E O'Connor for Smith (58), E Powderly for Fitzpatrick (71), D Flynn for Moolick (75), E Bolton for Conway (76)

Referee: N Mooney (Cavan)

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