Wednesday 19 September 2018

Galway progress to All Ireland final following enthralling victory over Clare

Galway 1-17 Clare 2-13

Joe Canning of Galway and Colm Galvin of Clare
Joe Canning of Galway and Colm Galvin of Clare

Dermot Crowe

Galway earned their place in the All-Ireland final for the second year running after a tumultuous finish saw Clare come up marginally short at Thurles.

In a near replica of the drawn match, Galway roared into nine-point lead in the first half, before almost being hauled back. But Clare, despite a monumental effort, could never close the gap and the final whistle sounded to Galway's great relief. They will meet Limerick in the final on August 19, the first meeting of the counties in the final since 1980.

Near the end of the game Clare, chasing the equaliser, missed 1-4 from good positions, the goal chance coming to Aron Shanagher who was denied by James Skehill. He had a rebound chance but could not finish with only a couple of minutes left on the clock.

A goal then would have put Clare ahead, with Tony Kelly, Ian Galvin and Rory Hayes all missing point chances in a few frantic minutes that preceded it. Shanagher made his presence felt after coming on for Podge Collins after 64 minutes, scoring a point with his first touch.

Brilliant second half goals from Shane O'Donnell and Peter Duggan shook Galway and almost inspired Clare to victory. But they paid a big price for poor finishing, ending the game with a wides tally of 19, to Galway's 13. With play nearing the last minute of normal time Joe Canning sent a beautiful sideline cut over the bar to a huge roar, leaving Galway 1-16 to 2-11, but Clare were still breathing down their necks.

John Conlon scored his only point of the day and Duggan blew a chance to level for the first time when his free was underhit in stoppage time from 50m. Niall Burke responded with a score and Duggan's last free in the final minute of five additional minutes allowed left the minimum between them again. Clare tried desperately to find an equaliser but in the last attack Kelly's long delivery went wide.

Galway were coasting the match in the first half, with a goal from Jonathan Glynn in the 20th minute putting them 1-9 to 0-3 in front, the full forward out fielding David McInerney and finishing with a one-handed strike past Donal Tuohy.

Tuohy's short puck outs again failed to do much beyond lead Clare into trouble and the Galway defence thrived under high ball, Daithi Burke making one monster catch over Conlon in the 18th minute when Clare were trailing by six points and badly in need of a spark from somewhere. They were ferocious in the tackle and clearly determined to make up for letting a big lead slip a week earlier. 

Clare started David Fitzgerald, who made a major impact in the drawn game when introduced, in place of Cathal Malone and before halftime they called David Reidy ashore who worked hard but didn't have much luck. Ian Galvin was sent on in his place and hit some good scores. Fitzgerald disappointed and Malone replaced him in the second half.

Clare began with Colm Galvin sweeping but later in the first half they moved him put the field and gave that role to Jamie Shanahan. Despite being named in the Galway team, Gearoid McInerney did not start due to injury and Niall Burke came into the team, and played well, with Joseph Cooney moving to wing back and Padraic Mannion filling the centre where he excelled. Cooney was also outstanding on Duggan and in general play. 

Clare didn't help their cause with poor shooting in the opening half, although many of those efforts were under extreme Galway pressure. Galway almost had a second goal 20 minutes in but Tuohy saved well to deny Conor Cooney.

Rocked by the Glynn goal, Clare managed to improve for the final 15 minutes of the first half and had the last three scores, O'Donnell starting the sequence, Duggan scoring a free and Collins scoring the last in stoppage time, leaving them six points adrift, 0-6 to 1-9, at half time.

David Burke chipped in with two good point for Galway, one after blocking an attempted clearance by Shanahan, while Canning and Whelan, who started centre forward, also each had a brace. 

In the second half Clare upped the pressure. O'Donnell scored an incredible goal in the 43rd minute, beating three men, to reduce the gap to four points but Galway steadied themselves with scores from the impressive Conor Whelan, who finished with three, and Niall Burke.

They were stunned again in the 53rd when Duggan scored, after a brilliant pass from O'Donnell, who had a great match. It left Galway hanging on to a slender 1-13 to 2-9 lead. But they were strong enough to prevent Clare reaching parity. The champions are still standing.

Scorers: Galway - J Cooney 0-8 (0-4 fs; 0-1 lineball); J Glynn 1-0; C Whelan 0-3, David Burke, N Burke 0-2, C Cooney, C Mannion 0-1. Clare - P Duggan 1-6 (0-6 fs); S O'Donnell 1-1, I Galvin 0-2, T Kelly, P Collins, J Conlon, A Shanagher 0-1.

Galway: J Skehill; A Tuohey, Daithi Burke, J Hanbury; C Cooney, P Mannion, A Harte; J Coen, David Burke; J Canning, C Whelan, C Mannion; N Burke, J Glynn, C Cooney.

Subs: S Loftus for Hanbury (56 mins); J Flynn for C Cooney (59); D Glennon for Glynn (72).

Clare: D Tuohy; P O'Connor, D McInerney, J Browne; S Morey, C Cleary, J Shanahan; C Galvin, D Fitzgerald; P Duggan, T Kelly, D Reidy; P Collins, J Conlon, S O'Donnell.

Subs: I Galvin for Reidy (32 mins); C Malone for Fitzgerald (43); R Hays for O'Connor (in 58); M O' Malley for Shanahan (60); A Shanagher for Collins (64). 

Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary).

Attendance: 44,246.

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