Wednesday 21 February 2018

Ruthless Bannermen sweep Laois aside

CLARE 1-32 LAOIS 0-15 All-Ireland SHC Qual Phase 2

Declan Rooney

There was no second-half breakdown this time for Clare as Davy Fitzgerald's side destroyed a poor Laois at Cusack Park, Ennis to reach Phase 3 of the qualifiers.

Everyone from full-back David McInerney forward got on the scoresheet for Clare, who were never troubled by Seamus Plunkett's side and were much improved from their disappointing Munster championship exit to Cork .

With inspirational performances against Antrim, Carlow and Galway to their name already this summer, Laois had plenty to be positive about ahead of this clash and after Brendan Bugler got the Banner off the mark with a first-minute score from distance, Laois soon pushed ahead when John Brophy and Zane Keenan pointed by he third minute.

The O'Moore County men looked up for the battle, but it was Clare who took control with three points in a row from John Conlon and two from Duggan, who came in for the injured Nicky O'Connell before the throw-in.

With McInerney in sparkling form – he hit one super point from deep in his own half – and easily outpacing Willie Hyland for any ball placed in front of the Laois attacker, Clare finally began to get to grips with the tie. And the points began to flow for Fitzgerald's men and they hit seven in a row between the 11th and 22nd minutes for a 0-17 to 0-8 lead at half-time.

The procession continued after the restart as the Clare forwards began to get on the scoresheet and sub Shane O'Donnell's goal two minutes from time sealed a facile win for the Bannermen.

Laois had little chance to penetrate the Clare defence in the second half, with Zane Keenan's 20-metre free the closest they came to beating Patrick Kelly.

But the Clare manager will care little for the simple nature of his side's win. They have reached the next round and have recovered from that demoralising loss to the Rebels in Munster. There is much to come from them.

Scorers – Clare: C Ryan 0-11 (8f, 2 '65s'), P Duggan 0-4, D Honan, C McGrath 0-3 each, S O'Donnell 1-0, P Collins 0-2, T Kelly, P Donnellan, J Conlon, C Galvin, B Bugler, L Markham, D McInerney, C Dillon, P O'Connor 0-1 each. Laois: S Maher 0-5 (3f), Z Keenan 0-4 (1f), W Hyland 0-3, PJ Scully 0-2, J Brophy 0-1.

Clare: P Kelly; D O'Donovan, D McInerney, C Dillon; B Bugler, P Donnellan, P O'Connor; C Ryan, P Duggan; J Conlon, T Kelly, C Galvin; P Collins, D Honan, C McGrath. Subs: S O'Donnell for Honan (42), A Cunningham for Conlon (53), L Markham for Galvin (56), S Morey for Bugler (58), J Clancy for Ryan (61).

Laois: E Reilly; B Stapleton, D Maher, J A Delaney; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan, G Burke; C Healy, J Walsh; S Maher, Z Keenan, T Fitzgerald; J Brophy, W Hyland, B Dunne. Subs: PJ Scully for Brophy (24), C Dunne for Walsh (34), B Duggan for Dune (44), B Conroy for Fitzgerald (60), A Collier for Healy (62).

Referee: C Lyons (Cork)

Irish Independent

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