Friday 15 December 2017

Last-gasp Morris rescues Wexford from cruel defeat

John Conlon, Clare, in action against Ciarán Kenny, right, and Eoin Moore, Wexford
John Conlon, Clare, in action against Ciarán Kenny, right, and Eoin Moore, Wexford
Liam Óg McGovern, Wexford, is tackled by Colm Galvin, Clare
Jack Guiney, Wexford, is tackled by David McInerney, Clare
David Redmond, Wexford, is tackled by Colm Galvin, Clare
John Conlon, Clare, in action against Ciarán Kenny, Wexford

Dermot Crowe

The end is probably the least muddled place to start making sense of this astonishing match because throughout 90 minutes it was never clearcut and kept you guessing to the last stroke.

Clare 2-25 Wexford 2-25

The last of an avalanche of scores came from the stick of Paul Morris, whose point in the game’s last breath, saved Wexford from what would have a cruel and unmerited defeat. They were heroic and that Clare survived is something of a miracle.

It isn’t easily explained. They were let off the hook by a series of things. An assortment of critical saves from Pa Kelly, vindicating the decision to recall him even if he will be displeased with one he conceded. There were a spate of Wexford wides early in the second half of normal time when they had a seven-point lead and could have put Clare out of sight. And the performances of Conor McGrath, who never hid and scored 1-5, and the graceful Tony Kelly, scorer of 0-4 who got through a massive workload when Clare needed graft, a man down for all the second half in normal time.

They had Podge Collins red-carded before the interval when he tugged the faceguard of David Redmond. The referee was obliged by rule to send the player off although Clare protested fiercely. Clare were five points down at half-time (2-9 to 0-10) having trailed by ten at one stage, but with 14 men their task was made all the more formidable.

Wexford were in their faces from the start and they consolidated the promise shown so far this summer, even if the plague of poor finishing returned to undo them. Clare were restored to 15 players for extra-time and when McGrath goaled after defensive hesitation it was the first time the home team led in the match. But Wexford would not let go. Last year they took Clare to extra-time before they fell away. This time they were resolute to the end.

Undeterred by McGrath’s extra-time goal, they kept hurling and going at Clare. Points from the exceptional Lee Chin had them level and Jack Guiney would have had a goal but for another stop by the over-worked Kelly. Clare led 2-22 to 2-21 with the second extra-time period to come, but Wexford would have the fresh breeze.

Kelly widened that to two and Wexford came again to haul them back in. McGrath looked to have won it with a beautiful score but Morris, another to impress for Wexford, tied the teams just before the last whistle. At the end both sides looked spent and relieved in equal measure and now must go through it all again. They will replay next weekend. Wexford had huge performances all over the field. Liam óg McGovern burned the Clare backs with his pace and scored 1-4. Andrew Shore stood out at the back. Conor McDonald, who goaled in the ninth minute, was a constant threat until injured.

Wexford left it behind then in normal time. They led by ten points in the first half after an explosive start, five at half-time and stretched that out to seven on the restart. But Clare dug in and clawed their way back. A monster score from Kelly in the 54th minute had it back to two and there was a spell after half-time when Wexford hit five wides that could have put them out of sight.

Normal time ended in high drama at 1-21 to 2-18. Kelly made a crucial save from Diarmuid O’Keeffe when Wexford led by a goal with six minutes left.

With four minutes left McGovern won a penalty and Morris took the point. It looked enough, leaving them four points up.

But in the next attack Darach Honan’s handpass found McGrath who was bundled over and when Tony Kelly’s penalty was saved by Matthew O’Hanlon, Séadna Morey ran in to finish. Conor Ryan scored the equaliser to a deafening roar with time up. And still it wasn’t done, Honan and Gareth Sinnott missing good chances to win it, the latter especially.

How can they follow this dish?

Scorers — Clare: C Ryan 0-12 (0-9fs, 0-1 ‘65), S Morey 1-0; C McGrath 1-5, T Kelly 0-4, C McInerney 0-2, C Dillon, C Ryan 0-1. Wexford: P Morris 0-10 (0-6fs, 0-1 pen, 0-1 ‘65’), L Og McGovern 1-4, C McDonald 1-1, L Chin 0-3, A Shore, D Redmond, E Moore (f), J Guiney, D O’Keeffe, I Byrne, R Jacob 0-1.

Clare: P Kelly; C Dillon, D McInerney, J Browne; B Bugler, C Ryan, P O’Connor; P Donnellan, C Galvin; J Conlon, T Kelly, P Duggan; P Collins, C McGrath, C Ryan. Subs: P Duggan for Donnellan (49 mins); D Honan for Conlon (55); S Morey for Galvin (64); S Golden for Morey (start extra-time); S Morey for C McInerney (h-t extra-time); P Flanagan for O’Connor (inj 77).


Wexford: M Fanning; L Ryan, M O’Hanlon, K Rossiter; A Shore, E Moore, C Kenny; L Chin, H Kehoe; P Morris, P Doran, D Redmond; L óg McGovern, C McDonald, R Jacob. Subs: J Guiney for Jacob (30 mins); G Sinnott for Kehoe (h-t); D O’Keeffe for Redmond (44); PJ Nolan for Doran (46); R Kehoe for Shore (63); W Devereux for Rossiter (h-t extra-time); R Jacob for Sinnott (83 mins); C Devitt for Chin (88).Referee: C McAllister (Cork)

Davy Fitzgerald in tunnel row

Davy Fitzgerald was involved in a tunnel bust-up with a local journalist following Clare’s pulsating draw with Wexford in the All-Ireland hurling qualifiers in Cusack Park yesterday.

All-Ireland hurling champions Clare looked set to relinquish their title before a thrilling finish at Cusack Park saw the Banner draw level and force extra-time, which failed to separate the sides.

Following the gripping encounter in Ennis, Fitzgerald was involved in a heated exchange with a member of the press.

Clare Champion reporter Peter O’Connell had finished conducting post-match interviews in the tunnel when he became embroiled in a verbal altercation with the Clare manager.

An irate Fitzgerald was seen remonstrating with O’Connell before Pat Fitzgerald, Davy’s father and long -standing Clare County Board secretary, stepped in in an attempt to diffuse the situation outside the Clare dressing room.

It is understood that Fitzgerald was unhappy with aspects of the coverage of his team by the paper and journalist in question.

Irish Independent Sport Star Awards

Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.

Sunday Indo Sport

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport