All’s well that ends well as Clare completed their latest Division 2 campaign with a confidence-boosting victory over hosts Down in Newry.

Clare 2-14

Down 1-09

Venue: Páirc Esler, Newry

Following their best second tier start under Colm Collins, three frustrating reverses threatened to ensure the Banner worst league finish. However, the rot was deservedly stopped supremely by Cian O’Dea and Ciaran Russell, with the four hour return trip made all the shorter as eleven different players got in on the scoring action.

Down, while already relegated to Division 3 for 2023, began in spirited fashion but were quickly floored by an Aaron Griffin goal in only the eighth minute. What would have added to Down’s frustrations is that it stemmed from their own lineball that Gavin Cooney intercepted 50 metres from goal, with the ball worked through Eoin Cleary, David Tubridy, Pearse Lillis and finally Griffin to finish to the right corner of the net from close range at 1-1 to 0-1.

The cracks suddenly began to appear in the home side’s rearguard but Cian O’Dea and Cooney would both be denied further goals while Darren O’Neill opted to fist over another one-on-one.

The hosts had a glorious opportunity of their own in the 27th minute, only for visiting goalkeeper Stephen Ryan to excellently block Liam Kerr’s point blank attempt with his feet.

Four minutes later, Clare would add to Down’s woes when Jamie Malone, Emmet McMahon and Daniel Walsh combined to tee up the overlapping Cian O’Dea to fire to the net. A black card for Down midfielder Pat Havern was followed by late points for Eoin Cleary and the ever-impressive Ciaran Russell to ensure a 2-5 to 0-5 half-time advantage for the Banner.

That cushion would be stretched to nine by the turn of the final quarter after four unanswered points from Cleary, Pearse Lillis, newcomer Brendy Rouine and David Tubridy sandwiched another one-on-one Ryan stop at 2-9 to 0-6.

Against the run of play, Down got a major shot-in-the-arm when Cory Quinn was sprung off the bench to grab a lifeline goal in the 52nd minute. However, a straight red card for home full-back Finn McElroy for an off-the-ball incident allied to a subsequent black card for Gerard Collins would see Down’s comeback hopes ultimately fall on stoney ground.

They did show some strong resistance to kick three unanswered frees, two from Andrew Gilmore, to slash the arrears to just three at 2-9 to 1-9 entering the final ten minutes.

However, when reduced to 13 men, the war-weary hosts would be incrementally overran as Cleary (2), Griffin, Tubridy and substitute Joe McGann eased Clare to the final points of a seesaw campaign.

It was a crucial result for the Banner, particularly in light of Limerick’s promotion from Division 3 this afternoon as the Shannonside neighbours are set to meet in the opening tie of the Munster Championship in Cusack Park in five weeks time.

 

Scorers for Clare: Eoin Cleary (0-04, 2f), Aaron Griffin (1-01), Cian O’Dea (1-01), David Tubridy (0-02f), Emmet McMahon (0-01), Darren O’Neill (0-01), Gavin Cooney (0-01), Ciaran Russell (0-01), Pearse Lillis (0-01), Brendy Rouine (0-01m), Joe McGann (0-01)

 

Scorers for Down: Cory Quinn (1-01), Andrew Gilmore (0-03f), Barry O’Hagan (0-02, 1f), Pat Havern (0-01), Liam Kerr (0-01), Niall Kane ((0-01f)

 

Clare

1: Stephen Ryan (Kilrush Shamrocks)

 

2: Conor Jordan (Austin Stack’s, Kerry)

3: Ciaran Russell (Éire Óg)

4: Cillian Rouine (Ennistymon)

 

5: Jamie Malone (Corofin)

7: Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis, Mayo)

6: Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora)

 

26: Daniel Walsh (Kilmurry Ibrickane)

9: Darren O’Neill (Éire Óg)

 

12: Emmet McMahon (Kildysart)

11: Eoin Cleary (St. Joseph’s Miltown)

10: Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare)

 

15: David Tubridy (Doonbeg)

17: Gavin Cooney (Éire Óg)

13: Aaron Griffin (Lissycasey)

 

Subs:

22: Brian McNamara (Cooraclare) for McMahon (HT)

25: Brendy Rouine (Ennistymon) for Cooney (HT)

19: Darragh McDonagh (St Joseph’s Miltown) for Walsh (44, inj)

18: Ciaran Downes (Kilmihil) for Collins (49)

20: Joe McGann (St Breckan’s) for Griffin (69)

 

Down:

1: Niall Kane (Kilcoo)

 

4: Tomás McInerney (Bryansford)

3: Finn McElroy (Longstone)

2: Adam Lynch (St Peter’s Warrenpoint)

 

5: Gerard Collins  (R.G.U. Downpatrick)

6: Conor Poland (Longstone)

7: Anthony Morgan (Kilcoo)

 

26: Ryan McEvoy (Kilcoo)

9: Pat Havern (Saval)

 

12: Ceilum Doherty (Kilcoo)

11: Liam Kerr (Burren)

10: Ryan O’Higgins (Bryansford)

 

13: Andrew Gilmore (St John’s)

14: Barry O’Hagan (Clonduff)

15: Jack McCartan (Glenn)

 

Subs:

18: Cory Quinn (Mayobridge) for McCartan (44)

8: Cormac O’Rawe (Bredagh) for O’Higgins (50)

20: Kevin McKernan (Burren) for McEvoy (68)

 

Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)

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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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