*Manus Doherty celebrates with Emmet McMahon and Ronan Lanigan. 

CLARE’s senior footballers produced a late flurry to pick up their second win of the Allianz National Football League defeating Offaly by the smallest of margins.

Clare 2-10
Offaly 1-12
Venue: Glenisk O’Connor Park, Tullamore

Having trailed by nine points with twenty minutes to play, even Clare manager Mark Fitzgerald admitted that he felt the tie was gone from their grasp at this stage but a powerful finish would follow to ensure the Banner got back to winning ways and keep their hopes of an immediate bounce back to Division 2 alive.

On fifty nine minutes the tide began to turn when Ciaran Downes stuck a penalty to the bottom right corner of the net. Éinne O’Connor who added energy when introduced at half time was the man to win the spot kick after he was put through by clubmate Ikem Ugwueru.

Three points on the trot came Clare’s way via the Kildysart duo of Diarmuid O’Donnell and Emmet McMahon. O’Donnell reinvigorated the Clare attack from his addition on forty four minutes.

Ruairí McNamee replied at the other end on sixty nine minutes to extend their lead back to three points.

Belief firmly swung behind Clare when Diarmuid O’Donnell struck for goal on seventy minutes. He volleyed the ball over the line to level it up after Cormac Murray’s effort was batted away.

Murray was the man to put Clare in front on seventy two minutes, Alan Sweeney had rescued possession in defence, Stephen Ryan the goalkeeper operating around midfield fed Manus Doherty who once again produced a thundering run before finding Murray.

Daniel Walsh fisted over to make the gap two points.

There would be further drama when Offaly were awarded a penalty after Ronan Lanigan was harshly judged to have fouled Jordan Quinn. Fortunately for Clare, Peter Cunningham’s effort went over the bar to ensure the journey home would be shortened for the Banner County.

After producing a bright start, it seemed that Clare were on course to dominate the opening half but that is not how it transpired. Mark McInerney pointed and seemed to injure himself in the process on two minutes before Manus Doherty’s excellent run helped to tee up Aaron Griffin for the second on three minutes.

Ruairí McNamee and Cormac Egan replied at the other end for the hosts. Clare spurned chances through Daniel Walsh and Shane Griffin but then Griffin with what could have been a goal, saw his shot blaze above the cross bar to put the lead back in Clare’s favour.

Stephen Ryan managed to catch what were Offaly points only for his intervention but the Kilrush man was also on hand, this time with his legs to stop Kevin McDermott from registering a green flag.

Mounting pressure on Clare’s defence from the second quarter onward resulted in both corner backs Micheál Garry and Manus Doherty picking up yellow cards while the concession of frees allowed Nigel Dunne and Dylan Hyland to kick two frees each, Hyland was also on hand with the last score of the half which was their fifth in a row to see Offaly hold a 0-7 0-3 advantage at half time.

A flat restart from Clare allowed Offaly to remain in the ascendancy who kicked three points without reply in the third quarter. Emmet McMahon ended Clare’s scoring drought with a free on forty nine minutes but disaster struck when Anton Sullivan was on hand to palm a Nigel Dunne delivery to the net to see the Faithful County lead by nine.

What appeared as a most unlikely comeback then followed. Stephen Ryan’s influence grew immeasurably, the netminder began to act as a third midfielder for opposing kickouts and cleaned up in the air. The bench was also pivotal in turning things around with starring roles from Diarmuid O’Donnell, Éinne O’Connor and Cormac Murray while Manus Doherty was solid throughout.

Game management remains an issue that Clare need to rectify as they were unable to stall Offaly’s momentum for far too long. The big learning leaving Tullamore for Mark Fitzgerald and his management is to shake things up as without the changes, Clare would have fell to a disappointing loss.

Scorers Clare: D O’Donnell (1-2), E McMahon (0-3 3f), C Downes (1-0 1’Pen), M McInerney (0-1), A Griffin (0-1), S Griffin (0-1), C Murray (0-1), D Walsh (0-1)

Scorers Offaly: N Dunne (0-4 3f), D Hyland (0-3 2f), A Sullivan (1-0), R McNamee (0-2), C Egan (0-1), P Cunningham (0-1 Pen)

Clare
1: Stephen Ryan (Kilrush Shamrocks)

2: Manus Doherty (Éire Óg)
3: Ronan Lanigan (Éire Óg)
4: Micheál Garry (Cooraclare)

5: Ikem Ugwueru (Éire Óg)
6: Alan Sweeney (St Breckan’s)
7: Daniel Walsh (Kilmurry Ibrickane)

8: Gavin Murray (Éire Óg)
9: Brian McNamara (Cooraclare)

10: Dermot Coughlan (Kilmurry Ibrickane)
11: Emmet McMahon (Kildysart)
12: Ciaran Downes (Kilmihil)

13: Mark McInerney (Éire Óg)
14: Aaron Griffin (Lissycasey)
15: Shane Griffin (Lissycasey)

Subs:
19: Cormac Murray (St Joseph’s Miltown) for S Griffin (33)
17: Éinne O’Connor (Éire Óg) for Garry (HT)
25: Diarmuid O’Donnell (Kildsyart) for McInerney (44)
23: Tom McDonald (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield) for G Murray (54)
18: James Curran (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield) for Coughlan (56)

Offaly:
1: Ian Duffy (Walsh Island)

2: Lee Pearson (Edenderry)
3: David Dempsey (Ballycommon)
4: Aidan Bracken (Ballycommon)

10: Cormac Egan (Tullamore)
6: John Furlong (Tullamore)
7: Jack O’Brien (Durrow)

8: Eoin Carroll (Cappincur)
9: Peter Cunningham (Bracknagh)

12: Jordan Hayes (Edenderry)
11: Ruairi McNamee (Rhode)
21: Kevin McDermott (Durrow)

13: Dylan Hyland (Raheen)
14: Cian Farrell (Edenderry)
15: Nigel Dunne (Shamrocks).

Subs:
24: Anton Sullivan (Rhode) for Farrell (29)
25: Cathal Flynn (Ferbane) for McDermott (52)
22: Keith O’Neill (Clonbullogue) for Hyland (56)
5: Rory Egan (Edenderry) for O’Brien (66)
20: Jordan Quinn (Kilcormac-Killoughey) for Carroll (67)

Referee: James Molloy (Galway)

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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