*Clare’s Jack Browne. Photograph: Chris Copley
Clare have maintained their unbeaten record in Division 1 of the 2020 Allianz National Hurling League accounting for Laois by eight points on Sunday afternoon.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Over an hour before the throw-in, thunder and lighting sounded across the town of Ennis with scatters of sleet and plenty wind. The wind and rain emerged once more shortly after John Keenan threw the sliotar in.
Storm Dennis turned some spectators away from Cusack Park, they cannot be blamed for opting to watch the game live on TG4 or settle for The Clare Echo’s digest of proceedings. The 1,009 supporters that did travel to Ennis have certainly put themselves up for consideration in the ‘die-hard’ category.
Aaron Cunningham with his first touch at inter-county level since 2017, split the posts with an excellent score touching the sideline with just under two minutes on the clock. Ross King opened Laois’ account with a free on the next attack before the Banner fired the next four scores in success, three of which were via the hurley of Tony Kelly.
A 2013 qualifier clash between the sides is memorable for the fact that all outfield starting members of the Clare team scored except for Domhnall O’Donovan. The Clonlara corner-back later scoring the equalising point to send the All-Ireland final to a replay that September. Jack Browne managed to get his name on the scoresheet from corner back in this contest, a Tony Kelly cross-field free didn’t have the required distance but David McInerney rescued the pass and offloaded to Browne who made no mistake.
Kelly fired the final three scores of the half to give Clare a 0-09 0-04 advantage. Eddie Brennan’s Laois would have been pleased with such a distance seeing as they were against the elements and had just a single score from play. The big disappointment for Brian Lohan at the break was what appeared to be a hamstring injury sustained by David Fitzgerald.
Thunder and lighting returned but that was as exciting as it got in the third quarter. Ross King and Aaron Dunphy added scores for the visitors sandwiched between a Domhnall McMahon effort. Laois reduced the deficit to three points on fifty two minutes but Aron Shanagher marked his introduction with two quick-fire points, David Reidy was also on target to cancel out an impressive Paddy Purcell score.
Although there were calls for the contest to be called off, overall it was a positive outing for Brian Lohan’s side. He has three wins from three games during this National League campaign and has trialled players in different positions which has obtained satisfactory outcomes, namely David Fitzgerald in the forwards. Debutants Eibhear Quilligan and Liam Corry will be happy with their showing while Aidan McCarthy, David McInerney, David Reidy did well as did Aron Shanagher and Domnall McMahon when introduced.
Ironically Eddie Brennan who has been one of the most outspoken critics of the sweeper system utilised not one but two men in such a position at stages during the contest. The O’Mooremen were hindered with three starting players going off injured. Playing in Division 1 is what they have aspired for, fixtures like this will stand to Laois as the year progresses. For them, Padraig Delaney, Ross King and Paddy Purcell impressed.
Scorers Clare: T Kelly (0-08 5f), A Shanagher (0-03), A Cunningham (0-01), A McCarthy (0-01), J Browne (0-01), D McMahon (0-01), D Reidy (0-01), I Galvin (0-01).
Scorers Laois: R King (0-05 5f), J Ryan (0-01), A Dunphy (0-01), P Purcell (0-01), W Dunphy (0-01)
1: Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)
4: Jack Browne (Ballyea)
3: Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge)
2: Liam Corry (Éire Óg)
5: Stephen O’Halloran (Clarecastle)
6: Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge)
7: Aidan McCarthy (Inagh/Kilnamona)
8: David McInerney (Tulla)
9: Tony Kelly (Ballyea)
10: David Reidy (Éire Óg)
11: David Fitzgerald (Inagh/Kilnamona)
12: Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge)
13: Ryan Taylor (Clooney/Quin)
14: Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg)
15: Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones)
24: Domhnall McMahon (Tubber) for Fitzgerald (31) (Inj)
17: Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones) for Cunningham (46)
18: Ian Galvin (Clonlara) for Morey (47)
26: Podge Collins (Cratloe) for O’Donnell (55)
25: Niall Deasy (Ballyea) for Taylor (65)
1: Enda Rowland (Naomh Lasrian Mainstir Laoise)
3: Frank Flanagan (Portlaoise)
4: Donnacha Hartnett (Mointeach Millic)
2: Diarmuid Conway (Cloch Baille Cholla)
5: Padraig Delaney (Na Clairseacha)
6: Ryan Mullaney (Baile an Chaisléain)
7: Ciaran McEvoy (Portlaoise)
8: Colm Stapleton (Buiríos Mor Osraí Cill Choitin)
9: Fiachra Fennell (Ros Fhionnglaise)
10: Willie Dunphy (Cloch Baile Cholla)
11: James Ryan (Rath Domhnaigh Airéil)
12: Paddy Purcell (Rath Domhnaigh Airéil)
14: Stephen Bergin (Cloch Baile Cholla)
13: Ross King (Rath Domhnaigh Airéil)
15: James Keyes (Coillte)
23. John Lennon (Ros Fhionnghlaise) for Stapleton (10, inj)
17. Matthew Whelan (Buiríos Mor Osraí Cill Chaitin) for Conway (44)
25. Aaron Dunphy (Buiríos Mor Osraí Cill Chaitin) for Mullaney (44, inj)
22. Ronan Broderick (Cloch Baile Cholla) for Flanagan (59)
26. Cian Taylor (Portlaoise) for Bergin (62, inj)
Referee: John Keeenan (Wicklow)