Collins hails Tubridy as Banner edge out wasteful Westmeath
Clare 1-13 Westmeath 0-15
"If you're in a situation like that there's one man in the country that you want with the ball and that's David. He doesn't miss many of those. He's a fantastic finisher and I'm delighted for him."
This was Clare manager Colm Collins' succinct summary of the decisive 47th-minute goal by David Tubridy, following a poor Westmeath kick-out, after the Banner men had to battle very hard to edge past an unlucky - and wasteful - home team in sun-drenched Mullingar.
Overall, Westmeath did very well to overcome the loss of three very influential attackers by the 22nd minute - John Heslin and Ronan O'Toole (both to black cards), and Ger Egan (to injury).
Collins was magnanimous in this regard. "I think it was very unfortunate for Westmeath to lose two players of the quality of Egan and Heslin. That was unfortunate, no doubt about it. To be fair to Westmeath, they didn't let it interrupt anything. The penalising thing was probably the frees," he said, alluding to missed placed balls by Tommy McDaniel and Callum McCormack.
Understandably, opposite number Jack Cooney concurred: "The lads that came in did brilliantly. We put 15 points up on the board and probably left a few out there. If I was to sum it up in one word, the team showed great character in the face of adversity."
There was never much between the teams in the first half, with a hat-trick from Jamie Malone helping Clare to a 0-4 to 0-1 lead with ten minutes on the clock. Despite their triple setback, Westmeath fought back valiantly and deserved to go in on level terms (0-8 apiece) at half-time. Gary Brennan and Callum McCormack traded early points on the change of ends. Eoin Cleary nudged the Banner men ahead from a free, and from the ensuing misdirected kick-out, Tubridy (pictured) was teed up by Gavin Cooney for his goal.
Clare always looked the more likely winners thereafter with Westmeath dependent on Kieran Martin for inspiration, as Brennan dominated the midfield exchanges, ably assisted by Cathal O'Connor. The latter player and his colleague Cillian Brennan also picked up black cards in a fiercely-contested second half.
Clare led by a goal at the start of six minutes' added-time, and points from subs Tom Molloy and Noel Mulligan ('45') were not enough for Westmeath to claw back the deficit, Brennan producing a majestic catch when required with time almost up, a pivotal moment which was lauded by both managers. When it was pointed out to Collins that he was the third longest-serving manager behind Mickey Harte and Jim Gavin, he quipped: "I'm afraid those two gentlemen have a lot more won than I have!" However, a place in this morning's fourth round draw is yet another fine achievement by the Clare bainisteoir.
Scorers - Clare: D Tubridy 1-2 (2f); J Malone, E Cleary (3f) 0-3 each; C O'Connor, G Brennan 0-2 each; G Cooney 0-1. Westmeath: K Martin 0-6 (3f); T McDaniel 0-3 (2f); C McCormack 0-2; R O'Toole, G Egan, T Molloy, N Mulligan 0-1 ('45) 0-1 each.
Clare - S Ryan 7; D Ryan 6, C Brennan 6, G Kelly 6; S Collins 6, A Fitzgerald 6, C Ó hÁiniféin 6; S O'Donoghue 6, C O'Connor 8; E Cleary 7, G Brennan 8, J Malone 8; G Cooney 6, D Tubridy 7, C O'Dea 6. Subs: K Malone 6 for Cooney (47), E Collins 6 for Ó hÁiniféin (inj., 51), G O'Brien 6 for O'Connor (BC, 61), E O'Connor n/r for C Brennan (BC, 69), A Sweeney for Collins (70 + 1).
Westmeath - E Carberry 6; K Daly 8, J Smith 6, B Sayeh 8; R Wallace 6, K Maguire 7, J Dolan 6; J Heslin n/r, D Corroon 7; D Lynch 6, G Egan n/r, K Martin 9; R O'Toole 6, J Halligan 6, C McCormack 6. Subs: T McDaniel 7 for Heslin (BC, 7), S Duncan 6 for Egan (inj, 16), N Mulligan 7 for O'Toole (BC, 23), S Pettit 6 for Lynch (58), T Molloy 6 for McDaniel (67), C Slevin n/r for Halligan (69).
Ref - M McNally (Monaghan)