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Sexton gives Clare edge in first win

Clare 0-11 Kildare 0-10

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When captain Eoin Cleary left-footed over the bar from distance on 51 minutes, he put his side in front for the first time in the match. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

When captain Eoin Cleary left-footed over the bar from distance on 51 minutes, he put his side in front for the first time in the match. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

When captain Eoin Cleary left-footed over the bar from distance on 51 minutes, he put his side in front for the first time in the match. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Clare eked out a narrow win over Kildare at Cusack Park in Ennis yesterday. Trailing until the 51st minute, the home side finished in the driving seat to take both league points in front of a crowd of 2,084.

Having lost by a point away to Westmeath a week earlier, the Banner were under pressure to deliver a big performance, and they did just that.

Kildare manager Jack O'Connor will have to address the fact that discipline let his team down as they picked up eight yellow cards, plus the black carding of Paul Cribbin before half-time and the sending off of Paddy Brophy after 58 minutes for a second yellow card offence.

At the break the sides were level on 0-6 apiece. Early in the second period, the visitors raced into a two-point lead with a pair of points by free-taker Kevin Feely. But a tenacious Clare fought back in difficult conditions.

When captain Eoin Cleary (above) left-footed over the bar from distance on 51 minutes, he put his side in front for the first time in the match.

Kildare were sharper early on and Neil Flynn got them on the scoreboard in the second minute from a free.

Keelan Sexton got Clare off the mark from play before the Lilywhites opened up a three-point lead by the 13th minute, thanks to scores by Jack Robinson, Flynn again and Brophy.

Clare's Gearoid O'Brien and Kildare's Niall Kelly exchanged points before Clare upped the ante and drew level at 0-5 apiece by the 29th minute.

Scores by David Tubridy, Cleary and Sexton signalled an improvement in the hosts' performance. Before the break, a Brophy score was answered by a pointed free by Cleary.

A Feely pointed free for Kildare drew the sides level at nine each, in a frantic final quarter. Brophy's dismissal left the Leinster outfit at a disadvantage and Clare began to turn the screw.

Sexton kicked a sublime point from the left sideline, off his left. He then shot another off his right after leaving Kildare defender Johnny Byrne for dead, putting two between them.

O'Connor's charges replied with a Feely free in injury time but Clare held out to earn their first brace of league points.

Scorers - Clare: K Sexton 0-4, G O'Brien 0-3, E Cleary 0-3 (1f), D Tubridy 0-1 (f). Kildare: K Feely 0-4 (3f), N Flynn (2f), P Brophy 0-2 each, J Robinson, N Kelly 0-1 each.

Clare - S Ryan 7, K Harnett 7, C Brennan 8, G Kelly 7, S Collins 7, P Lillis 7, D Ryan 7, C Russell 8, C O'Connor 7, C O'Dea 8, E Cleary (captain) 8, D Coughlan 7, G O'Brien 7, D Tubridy 7, K Sexton 8. Subs: E McMahon 7 for O'Connor ((52), C Murray 7 for Coughlan (59), E Collins for Ryan (70).

Kildare - M Donnellan 7, P Kelly 6, M O'Grady (captain) 7, E Doyle 7, C Kavanagh 7, J Byrne 7, S Ryan 7, K Feely 7, L Power 7, P Brophy 7, N Kelly 7, P Cribbin 7, J Robinson 7, D Flynn 7, N Flynn 7. Subs: K Gribbin 7 for N Finn (ht), J Hyland 7 for Robinson (46), A Tyrrell 7 for P Cribbin (56), J Tracey for N Kelly (69).

REF - B Judge (Sligo).

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