Collins lauds his midfield masters after Banner send Sligo packing
Clare 2-17 Sligo 1-13
Clare manager Colm Collins hailed his twin midfield pillars of Gary Brennan and Cathal O’Connor after Saturday’s impressive victory in Markievicz Park.
The pair scored 1-4 between them in the second half and dominated throughout, as the Banner men brought an end to Sligo’s championship summer.
Brennan’s outstanding 57th-minute goal put the result beyond doubt, and only a late Pat Hughes goal prevented a heavier defeat for the home side, who were four points ahead at one stage in the first half before David Tubridy tucked away a penalty for Clare.
Collins said: “I felt we took a lot of wrong options in the first half, particularly from frees where we were taking on shots that were not on and we should have been going short.
“But the penalty brought us back into the game and the two boys in midfield took over once we started to get on top.
“Cathal drove us on and took some good scores, and Gary was excellent throughout.”
Tubridy was fouled himself for the 24th-minute spot-kick that kept Clare in touch at half-time, despite playing against a strong breeze.
They also had to cope with the loss of dual star Podge Collins to a black card after half an hour, though his replacement, Keelan Sexton, went on to score three points from play in an impressive performance.
Mark Breheny, Kyle Cawley, Niall Murphy, Brian Egan and Adrian Marren were all on target from play in the opening half as Sligo led by 0-9 to 1-4 at the break.
Breheny also opened the scoring in the second half, but their only other score before Hughes’s late goal was a point from Adrian McIntyre, as Clare took over.
Sligo boss Niall Carew said: “I felt for ten minutes of the second half that we had the run of the game. We had four or five opportunities — two held up in the wind, one dropped to the keeper, we had a goal chance and one went wide. A few scores then could have given us a bit of a cushion.
“But we struggled after that.
“I thought Brian Egan was unlucky not to get a penalty when the keeper came out to block with his two feet.
“That would have made a difference, but Clare were deserving winners. We struggled to deal with their runners through the middle.”
Scorers – Clare: D Tubridy 1-3 (1f, 1-0 pen), E Cleary 0-5 (2f), G Brennan 1-1, K Sexton and C O’Connor 0-3 each, P Lillis and S McGrath 0-1 each; Sligo: N Murphy (1f), A Marren (2f) and M Breheny (1f) 0-3 each, P Hughes 1-0, Brian Egan, Kyle Cawley, A McIntyre and C Henry 0-1 each.
Clare: J Hayes 7; D Ryan 7, K Harnett 7, M McMahon 6; C O’Dea 6, G Kelly 7, S Collins 7; G Brennan 9, C O’Connor 8; J Malone 7, P Collins 6, P Lillis 6; E Cleary 7, D Tubridy 7, S Hickey 7. Subs: K Sexton 8 for P Collins (black card 30), S McGrath 7 for Tubridy (61), E Coughlan 6 for Malone (64), P Burke for Lillis (66), S Malone for Cleary 68, D Nagle for S Collins (70).
Sligo: A Devaney 6; D Maye 6, K McDonnell 6, E Flanagan 6; Keelan Cawley 5, G O’Kelly-Lynch, Brendan Egan 5; A McIntyre 6, J Hynes 5; Kyle Cawley 6, M Breheny 6, N Ewing 5; A Marren 5, N Murphy 5, Brian Egan 5. Subs: P Hughes 6 for Hynes (47), C Henry 6 for Marren (black card 61), N Gaughan for O’Kelly-Lynch (68).
Ref: A Nolan (Wicklow).