*Clare’s Conor Cleary in action against Rory O’Connor. Photograph: Martin Connolly
Clare’s senior hurlers have lost back to back Allianz National Hurling League encounters.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
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Davy Fitzgerald recorded his first win over former teammate Brian Lohan at senior inter-county level when final quarter goals Simon Donohue and Lee Chin swung the tie in Wexford’s favour, the Model County had trailed for the entire contest until Rory O’Connor put them ahead on sixty six minutes.
Two of Clare’s most exciting attacking prospects, Mark Rodgers and Shane Meehan both made their first appearances for the county seniors. Rodgers was handed a starting spot following an injury sustained by Shane O’Donnell at training on Friday. Meehan was thrown into the mix when Tony Kelly picked up a dead leg.
Rodgers was among Clare’s first scorers, he followed earlier efforts from Kelly and David Fitzgerald while Lee Chin accounted for Wexford’s entire tally in the opening quarter. Chin himself had five wides in the opening half, four of which came from frees and allowed their opponents to always remain in front.
In stark contrast to their opening round loss to Antrim, there was much more life in Clare’s attitude, both on and off the field.
Throughout the opening half, Clare were revitalised on countless occasions through defenders making vital interceptions, Diarmuid Ryan and Rory Hayes most notably stepped up to the mark in this regard.
With twenty five minutes on the clock, Clare had built up a 0-09 0-04 advantage, this coming following an Aron Shanagher white flag as it finished a move which was created by Diarmuid Ryan and carried out by Rory Hayes, Ian Galvin and Mark Rodgers.
Wexford with successive braces of two and three points narrowed the gap to two points with thirty eight minutes played. However an Aidan McCarthy penalty which also resulted in the sin bin of Joe O’Connor saw the hosts carve up a five point half time lead.
Lee Chin hit the opening score on the restart but Clare responded with four points in a row. Two McCarthy scores were sandwiches between efforts from Liam Óg McGovern and Rory O’Connor.
Shane Meehan’s first score for the county seniors saw Clare lead by eight points with ten minutes of normal time remaining but from here matters deteriorated drastically, including the dismissal of Liam Corry on a straight red card.
Within the space of ninety seconds, Wexford raided for two goals, Simon Donohue traversed up the field and was left free to pounce on a David Dunne pass to slot past Eibhear Quilligan. On the next attack, the Feakle shotstopper was picking the sliotar from the net once again, this time after a Lee Chin ground stroke.
Further scores from David Dunne, Rory O’Connor and Chin put the visitors in front for the first time and concluded a tally of 2-04 without reply in a six minute window. While Matthew O’Hanlon would get his marching orders to rid of any numerical advantage and Aidan McCarthy would convert two more frees, it was insufficient to prevent Clare slipping to a second League defeat in as many weeks.
To Wexford’s credit, they finished strong in both the first and second half and their 2-04 tally aided with Clare’s demise saw them collect a second League win. Their wastefulness from frees though not punished fully on the day will have to be rectified if they are to make inroads on their poor 2020 championship campaign. For them, Conal Flood, Rory O’Connor and Shane Reck impressed.
Although there was a better performance from Clare, the manner of their loss is once again very disappointing. Hurling followers have bemoaned all weekend how the game is not as exciting with teams opting to follow a systematic approach, while Clare tended not to be as rigid to a plan, their puckout retention needs urgent improvement, the penalty won by Aron Shanagher in the first half came from a short puckout between Quilligan and Conor Cleary, when players like John Conlon are not in the half-forward line, the ball winning options for long puckouts are reduced.
As the game wore into the melting pot, the decision making from Clare came more into focus. Too much ball was wasted by opting to lump into attack in a hit and hope approach rather than working it forward in a smart manner, this was something that frustrated both the Banner management and subs. Diarmuid Ryan, Rory Hayes, Jack Browne and Ian Galvin performed well at stages for Clare.
Scorers Wexford: L Chin (1-05 3f 1’65), R O’Connor (0-06 4f), D Dunne (0-03), S Donohoe (1-00), D O’Keeffe (0-01), C Flood (0-01), L Óg McGovern (0-01), S Reck (0-01), G Bailey (0-01).
Scorers Clare: A McCarthy (1-08 6f 1’Pen), T Kelly (0-03), C Malone (0-03), A Shanagher (0-03), D Fitzgerald (0-01), M Rodgers (0-01), I Galvin (0-01), S Meehan (0-01).
1: Mark Fanning (Glynn-Barntown)
2: Shane Reck (Oylgate-Glenbrien)
6: Simon Donohoe (Shelmaliers)
17: Joe O’Connor (St Martins)
7: Conal Flood (Cloughbawn)
5: Gavin Bailey (Ferns St Aidans)
19: Matthew O’Hanlon (St James)
15: Kevin Foley (Rapparees)
8: Diarmuid O’Keeffe (St Annes)
20: Liam Óg McGovern (St Annes)
24: Rory O’Connor (St Martins)
22: Lee Chin (Faythe Harriers)
12: Aidan Nolan (Halfway House Bunclody)
13: David Dunne (Davidstown-Courtnacuddy)
14: Mikie Dwyer (St Mogue’s Fethard)
10: Jack O’Connor (St Martins) for J O’Connor (45)
9: Conor Hearne (Shellmaliers) for Nolan ((50)
21: Conor Devitt (Tara Rocks) for Dwyer (50)
23: Harry Kehoe (Cloughbawn) for Dunne (70)
1: Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)
2: Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones)
3: Conor Cleary (St Josephs Miltown)
4: Liam Corry (Éire Óg)
7: Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe)
6: John Conlon (Clonlara)
20: Jack Browne (Ballyea)
19: Paidí Fitzpatrick (Sixmilebridge)
9: Tony Kelly (Ballyea)
10: Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge)
25: Ian Galvin (Clonlara)
8: David Fitzgerald (Inagh/Kilnamona)
14: Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones)
5: Aidan McCarthy (Inagh/Kilnamona)
23: Mark Rodgers (Scariff)
18: Shane Meehan (Banner) for Kelly (27) (Inj)
13: Ryan Taylor (Clooney/Quin) for Galvin (63)
12: Colin Guilfoyle (Newmarket-on-Fergus) for Rodgers (63)
21: Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge) for Fitzpatrick (69).
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)