Thursday 22 February 2018

Clare's second-half masterclass enough to shoot down Sligo

Clare 2-17 Sligo 1-13

Cathal O'Connor of Clare in action against Adrian McIntyre and Adrian Marren of Sligo
Cathal O'Connor of Clare in action against Adrian McIntyre and Adrian Marren of Sligo

JOHN FALLON at Markievicz Park

Clare produced a superb second-half display to book their place in the last 12 in the race for the All-Ireland SFC title race.

Colm Collins’ men carved out a merited success in Sligo with another purposeful display of attacking football.

And like Sunday, when they came from behind to oust Laois, once again it was a superb second-half display which proved the difference as they booked a place in the last twelve of the title race.

Sligo, having not done enough when they had the wind in the opening half, had no answer to a deluge of scores from Clare after the restart and a second-half scoreline of 1-13 to 1-4 aptly sums up the difference.

Sligo, having played with the wind, looked to be in trouble at the break when they only led by 0-9 to 1-4 at the interval.

They built up  0-5 to 0-2 advantage after 19 minutes with Adrian Marren and Niall Murphy kicking two points apiece.

Pearse Lillis of Clare in action against Daniel Maye of Sligo
Pearse Lillis of Clare in action against Daniel Maye of Sligo

Eoin Cleary’s third point for Clare reduced the margin but efforts from Mark Breheny and Brian Egan saw Sligo lead by 0-7 to 0-3 eleven minutes from the break.

But then Clare got a big breakthrough after 27 minutes when David Tubridy was fouled and he sent the resultant penalty into the bottom right corner to cut the gap to the minimum.

However, there was a big set-back for the Banner County moments later when dual star Podge Collins picked up a black card for a clumsy challenge after he lost possession.

Marren rubbed salt in the wound by landing the resultant free from 45 metres before Tubridy and Mark Breheny swapped points before the interval.

But it was all Clare after the restart and they outscored the home county by 1-13 to 1-4 in the second-half.

Gary Brennan, who lorded midfield with Cathal O’Connor, sealed the win with their second goal ten minutes from time.

The Banner shot points from all angles and while Sligo pulled a goal back from substitute Pat Hughes, they never looked like staging a remarkable comeback to extend their interest in the 2016 championship.

Keelan Sexton, a Leaving Cert student last month, showed the depth of talent available when he came on to shoot three superb points from play in another great day for Clare football.

“All we wanted to do was ensure we were in the draw for Monday morning and fair play to the lads, they produced a display to do just that.

“We will see where we go from here, but this was a good win,” said a delighted Clare manager Colm Collins.

Clare: J Hayes; K Hartnett, S Hickey, M McMahon; J Malone, G Kelly, D Ryan; G Brennan (1-0), C O’Connor (0-4); C O’Dea, P Collins, S Collins; E Cleary (0-5, 0-2f), D Tubridy (1-3, 1-0 pen, 0-2f), P Lillis (0-1).

Subs: K Sexton (0-3) for P Collins (black card, 30), S McGrath (0-1) for Tubridy (61, E Coughlan for Lillis (63), P Burke for Malone (66), S Malone for Cleary (67), D Nagle for S Collins (69).

Sligo: A Devaney; E Flanagan, K McDonnell, D Maye; Brendan Egan , G O’Kelly-Lynch, Keelan Cawley; J Hynes, A McIntyre (0-1); N Ewing, M Breheny (0-3, 0-2f), N Murphy (0-3, 0-1f); Kyle Cawley (0-1), Brian Egan (0-1), A Marren (0-3, 0-2f).

Subs: P Hughes (1-0) for Hynes (47), C Henry (0-1) for Marren (black card, 66), N Gaughan for Cleary (67).

Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).

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