Collins upbeat as Cleary and Brennan help Banner ease past Leitrim
Clare 3-17 Leitrim 0-17
Clare manager Colm Collins pronounced himself happy to be in the next round following his side's impressive victory over Leitrim.
"I was very pleased with the way we did things in the first half, played really good football, running off the shoulder, took our chances well, less so in the second half, but there are always two teams in a game."
Leitrim manager Terry Hyland agreed his side had a poor first half. "We were not streetwise enough to keep up with the pace of the game in the first half but we stood up in the second and competed. Scoring 17 points on another day would have won us the match."
But the damage was done in a first half where Clare dominated possession. Cathal O'Connor, Seán O'Donoghue and Gary Brennan were particularly impressive. Eoin Cleary, Jamie Malone, Gavin Cooney and David Tubridy in attack caused an under-pressure Leitrim defence lots of problems.
Raced Clare raced into a three-point lead in the opening ten minutes through points by Malone, Cleary and Brennan but Leitrim responded from Dómhnaill Flynn and Dean McGovern to reduce the deficit to the minimum. Then in a setback for the home side, Ryan O'Rourke was forced off through injury in the 13th minute.
A minute later, Malone had the ball in the Leitrim net and worse was to follow as the Banner men hit four unanswered points plus their second goal from the influential Brennan in the 21st minute helping to widen the gap further, leaving the half-time score at 2-12 to 0-6.
Leitrim started the second period in determined fashion and set about reducing the Clare lead but came up against a well-marshalled defence. When sub Éimhín Courtney made an immediate impact, scoring Clare's third goal, it left Leitrim with a mountain to climb. But they lifted their game once more with Shane Moran, Evan Sweeney, Mark Plunkett and Dean McGovern scoring excellent points. In the final 15 minutes, the hosts outscored Clare 0-8 to 0-2 but a hope-giving goal didn't materialise.
SCORERS - Clare: E Cleary 0-7 (2f); G Brennan 1-3; J Malone 1-2; D Tubridy 0-5 (1 '45); E Courtney 1-0. Leitrim: E Sweeney 0-5 (2f); D Flynn, D McGovern, S Moran 0-3 each; M Plunkett 0-2; J Heslin 0-1.
Clare - S Ryan 8; G Kelly 8, C Brennan 8, D Ryan 7; S Collins 7, A Fitzgerald 7, C Ó hÁinféin 8; G Brennan 8,C O'Connor 8; S O'Donoghue 9, E Cleary 9, J Malone 8; G Cooney 9, D Tubridy 9, C O'Dea 8. Subs: K Malone 7 for J Malone (47), E Courtney 8 for G Cooney (51), G O'Brien for C O'Dea (59), D Bohannon for C O'Connor (59), C Murray for D Tubridy (62), E O'Connor for G Kelly (65).
Leitrim - C McCrann 9; P Maguire 7, M McWeeney 7, A Flynn 7; C Reynolds 6, M Plunkett 7, R Mulvey 6; O McCaffrey 6, S Moran 8; D Flynn 7, S McWeeney 6, S Quinn 6; D McGovern 7, P Dolan 7, R O'Rourke. Subs: E Sweeney 9 for R O'Rourke (13), O Madden 6 for C Reynolds (33), J Heslin 7 for R Mulvey (h-t), J Gilheaney 6 for O McCaffrey (h-t), G Plunkett 6 for S McWeeney (50), N Brady for D Flynn (74).
Ref - N Cullen (Fermanagh)