*Mark Roche impressed on the right wing for Clare. Photograph: Mark Hayes
Clare have secured a home Oscar Traynor quarter-final after picking up a win on the road on Saturday night.
Desmond League (Limerick) 1
Little motivation was needed on Clare’s behalf as they were well aware picking up three points on the road would ensure Frank Healy Park as the venue for a last eight clash. Were they to come up short and suffer a defeat, Shane Keegan’s men would not be progressing out of the group.
With that in mind, it wasn’t surprising that they started well and had the better of the goal chances inside the first fifteen minutes. Avenue’s Mark Roche was causing problems on the right wing and it appeared that he broke the deadlock only for his twentieth minute strike to skin over the crossbar.
At the other end, the hosts were pestering the Banner defence with several crosses, many of which they struggled to deal with. They won close on half a dozen corners on their own right wing and it was one such corner that saw them nudge in front.
Kevin Murphy swung in a corner from the right hand side and it was headed home from ten yards by Sean O’Shea with little or nothing goalkeeper Shane Cusack could do about it. The former Athlone Town netminder denied the Limerick side a chance of extending their lead and it was the Desmond League that had the better of exchanges in the run-in to half-time.
Half-time saw the introduction of Shannon Town’s Kieran Hackett who made quite the impact from the get-go. Three minutes into the second half, Hackett was involved as a cross was sent into the box which was volleyed to the back of the net from twelve yards by Kieran Mahony.
Unsurprisingly the sharpshooter’s equaliser gave Clare a needed and timely lift. Within eight minutes, they took the lead as a David McCarthy cross was powerfully headed home by Cian O’Dea.
Although a draw would suffice in terms of qualification for Clare, it would come at the cost of losing home advantage in the last eight clash. Both Mahony and Callum McNamara put moves together but neither came to fruition.
Desmond kept fighting as their counterparts began to tire. Their perseverance looked to have paid off on eighty five minutes when Pa Aherne slapped the ball past Cusack on eighty five minutes, however he was adjudged to have been offside leading to relieved faces among the Clare management,
An all round positive team display, Clare now look forward to the quarter-finals, a date for which has yet to be confirmed. Mark Roche, Kieran Mahony and Kieran Hackett all did well but it was David McCarthy and Cian O’Dea that stood out most for Shane Keegan’s men. It was not all doom and gloom for Desmond who still qualify for the last eight, finishing in second place in the group ahead of Kerry.
Clare: Shane Cusack (Newmarket Celtic), Conor Mullan (Avenue Utd), Aidan Leahy (Shannon Town), Dylan Casey (Avenue Utd), Cian O’Dea (Corofin Harps); Callum McNamara (Newmarket Celtic); Mark Roche (Avenue Utd), Cian McDonough (Avenue Utd), Ruairi Norby (Lifford), David McCarthy (Newmarket Celtic), Kieran Mahony (Newmarket Celtic).
Subs: Kieran Hackett (Shannon Town) for Norby (HT), Stephen Jordan (Manus Celtic) for Roche (75), Liam Buckley (Bridge Utd) for Leahy (85).