Sunday 25 February 2018

Conlon goal puts brakes on Laois revival as Clare clinch third straight win

Clare 1-21 Laois 0-16

Conlon: Goal scorer Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Conlon: Goal scorer Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE Newsdesk Newsdesk

Clare sealed a third successive victory in Allianz NHL Division 1B on Saturday night as they overcame a stubborn Laois side in O'Moore Park.

The visitors started the game in a whirlwind, with Aaron Cunningham and Gearóid O'Connell both pointing inside two minutes.

They could have had a goal moments later, but Shane O'Donnell's run was cut short on the 21-yard line, and Colin Ryan tapped over the free.

Laois looked in real trouble at this stage, but veteran forward Willie Hyland steadied some early nerves with a brace of points to get them back to within one.

That slowed Clare's momentum somewhat, but they eventually took control once again, as John Conlon pointed in the 10th minute.

David Reidy added two more and the visitors were now four ahead, with Leigh Bergin's point just about keeping Laois in touch.

When Clare replied with another quick-fire double to push five ahead they again looked primed to run away with things, but to Laois' credit they started to grind out scores.

Zane Keenan won a puck out and fired it over the bar before landing two frees, as Laois again threatened to reel Clare in.

As was the pattern of the game, Clare kicked on when they needed to, with three more unanswered points giving them their biggest lead of the half at 0-12 to 0-6.


Laois looked to have addressed that with a couple of points before the break, but a speculative ball into their penalty area wasn't dealt with, and in the resulting scramble, John Conlon was left with the simplest of finishes as he tapped the ball to an empty net.

That left Clare 1-13 to 0-9 in front at the break, and there only looked line one winner from there.

Laois started the second half brightly, but as would be a recurring theme in the closing 35 minutes, their shooting would let them down.

They dominated the opening exchanges, but only had a 65 from Enda Rowland to show for their efforts.

The next 20 minutes or so saw plenty of effort, but not much in the way of scores, as both sides struggled in front of goal.

Laois hit eight wides in the second half alone, with almost all of them coming in this period as any chance they had of getting something from the game eroded away.

Clare weren't much better, and they were guilty of some poor shooting themselves, but they eventually got their eye back in for the last ten minutes or so to turn a scrappy performance into a comfortable win.

Scorers - Clare: B Duggan (6f) 0-6; Colin Ryan (2f) 0-5; J Conlon 1-2; D Reidy 0-3; A Cunningham 0-2; Conor Ryan, G O'Connell, C O'Connell 0-1 each. Laois: Z Keenan 0-5 (4f); W Hyland, PJ Scully (2f) 0-3 each; C Dwyer 0-2; E Rowland ('65), L Bergin, S Maher 0-1 each

Clare - A Fahy 6; P O'Connor 6, C Dillon 6, P Flanagan 6; B Bugler 7, D McInerney 6, C Cleary 6; D Reidy 8, Conor Ryan 7; J Conlon 7, Colin Ryan 6, G O'Connell 6; A Cunningham 6, S O'Donnell 6, B Duggan 7. Subs: C Galvin 6 for Cleary (ht), O O'Brien 6 for Dillon (49, inj), C O'Connell 6 for G O'Connell (58), D Fitzgerald for Galvin (64), C O'Donnell for S O'Donnell (69), M O'Malley for Reidy (70)

Laois - E Rowland 6; J Phelan 6, N Foyle 6, C Healy 8; L Bergin 6, M Whelan 6, R Mullaney 7; C Collier 6, P Purcell 6; C Dwyer 6, Z Keenan 6, S Maher 6; R King 5, W Hyland 7, T Delaney 6. Subs: PJ Scully 7 for King (22 mins), W Dunphy 6 for Maher (58), C Stapleton for Foyle (63), J Walsh for Bergin (63)

Ref - D Kirwan (Cork)

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