Sunday 25 August 2019

Clare spoil Leitrim's party with a stroll in Carrick

Clare 3-17 Leitrim 0-17

Clare manager Colm Collins. Photo: Sportsfile
Clare manager Colm Collins. Photo: Sportsfile

Daragh Small

Leitrim's hurlers were victorious in Croke Park yesterday, but the county's footballers were knocked out of the qualifiers in Carrick-on-Shannon.

The Lory Meagher Cup success was a huge boost for the county.

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Clare's Éimhín Courtney in action against Leitrim's Oisín Madden. Photo: Sportsfile
Clare's Éimhín Courtney in action against Leitrim's Oisín Madden. Photo: Sportsfile

However, they couldn't back it up later in the evening with goals from Jamie Malone, Gary Brennan and Éimhín Courtney sealing Clare's win. The Leitrim hurlers were presented on the pitch at half-time, but that was the biggest ovation of the day from the 2,756-strong crowd.

The hosts were completely outplayed in the first half and the game was well out of reach when Fermanagh referee Niall Cullen blew the half-time whistle.

Clare were off the back of a difficult Munster semi-final defeat at home to Kerry, but bounced back emphatically.

Malone and Brennan both scored goals in the first half and Courtney also netted after his introduction.

Clare's Gary Brennan shakes hands with Leitrim's Oisín McCaffrey. Photo: Sportsfile
Clare's Gary Brennan shakes hands with Leitrim's Oisín McCaffrey. Photo: Sportsfile

This second round qualifier was played in ideal conditions, and Clare were ruthless in the first half, although they could have led by even more than the 2-12 to 0-6 half-time scoreline.

The game turned in the 14th minute when Colm Collins' men finally hit the net after threatening for some time.

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Malone scored the first goal and when Brennan finished into an open net eight minutes later, Clare were 2-8 to 0-2 in front and the game looked over as a contest.

Eoin Cleary and Domhnaill Flynn missed early frees for their respective sides but Malone tapped over a second-minute point, before Cleary and Brennnan added to the lead.

Leitrim captain Micheal McWeeney blocked a goal-bound effort from Seán O'Donoghue in the ninth minute, and although Leitrim looked shaky in defence, they fought their way back into the match.

Flynn scored their first point in the 12th minute and Dean McGovern reduced the arrears to the minimum moments later.

But Cleary hit back for Clare and that was the start of a magnificent 2-5 blitz by the visitors.

Malone was calm enough to round Leitrim goalkeeper Cathal McCrann and side-foot home a crucial goal. Brennan and David Tubridy (three) scored points and then Cleary's attempted point dropped short and Brennan had the easiest finish.

Flynn scored Leitrim's third point, in the 23rd minute, but that was quickly cancelled out by Cleary up at the other end.

Flynn and substitute Evan Sweeney tried to mount a comeback for Leitrim but Clare scored three of the remaining four points before half-time.

Cleary's fifth point of the day gave Clare a massive 12-point interval lead.

Sweeney scored the first point of the second half from a free but every time Leitrim built up some momentum they conceded a score, Cleary adding his sixth point.

Shane Moran did score two fine points but Clare were never going to be caught and Courtney scored a killer third goal after a powerful run by Kieran Malone in the 55th minute.

Sweeney continued to fire scores but Clare had, by then, turned their attentions to Round 3.

Scorers - Clare: E Cleary 0-7 (0-3f); G Brennan 1-3; J Malone 1-2; D Tubridy 0-5 (0-1f, 0-1 '45); E Courtney 1-0.

Leitrim: E Sweeney 0-5 (0-3f); D Flynn 0-3 (0-2f), D McGovern, S Moran 0-3 each; M Plunkett 0-2 (0-1 '45); J Heslin 0-1.

Clare: S Ryan; D Ryan, C Brennan, G Kelly; S Collins, A Fitzgerald, C Ó hÁiniféin; S O'Donoghue, G Brennan; E Cleary, C O'Connor, J Malone; G Cooney, D Tubridy, C O'Dea.

Subs: K Malone for J Malone (48), E Courtney for Cooney (52), G O'Brien for O'Dea (54), D Bohannon for O'Connor (58), C Murray for Tubridy (63), E O'Connor for Kelly (66).

Leitrim: C McCrann; A Flynn, M McWeeney, C Reynolds; R Mulvey, M Plunkett, P Maguire; P Dolan, S Moran; D Flynn, S McWeeney, S Quinn; O McCaffrey, D McGovern, R O'Rourke.

Subs: E Sweeney for O'Rourke (13), O Madden for Reynolds (34), J Gilheaney for McCaffrey (half-time), J Heslin for Mulvey (half-time), G Plunkett for D McWeeney (50), N Brady for Flynn (74).

Referee: N Cullen (Fermanagh).

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