*Tony Kelly. Photograph: Martin Connolly
It was always expected to be a comfortable win for Clare and so it proved as Brian Lohan’s charges made a winning start to life in Division 1 Group B of the Allianz hurling league.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
By Seamus Hayes
Before an attendance of 2,283 at Cusack Park on Sunday the home side pulled away in the second half to win with sixteen points to spare over a Carlow side that started well but their lack of experience at this level was evident in a second half which was dominated by the home side.
Both sides started as per the match programme, a rare occurrence in recent years, scores came fast in the opening minutes. Centre back Pat O’Connor pointed the home side into the lead with just twenty seconds on the clock.
Carlow had hit the front for the only time by the second minute thanks to points from Chris Nolan and Martin Kavanagh. It was a short lived lead as straight from the resumption of play after Kavanagh’s point, Clare struck for the game’s only goal, Shane O’Donnell applying the finish. The visitors responded with points from John Michael Nolan and Kavanagh to tie up the game with just five minutes played.
Six unanswered points followed from Clare and they led by this amount at the interval when the score was 1-12 to 0-9 with eight Clare players having got on the scoresheet.
Carlow manager Colm Bonnar was reasonably happy with his side’s first half performance. “Going in at half time there wasn’t an awful lot in it. The goal they got was lucky enough I thought. Our full back line was dealing with the threat that was in there. We said if we could limit them to a goal or two we would give ourselves a chance but we really never came out of the dressing room in the second half. Clare were dominant in the second half and their ability to win breaking ball was evident. It’s hard as we are learning our trade at this level and we have to try and get used to it”, commented the Tipperary native.
Clare struck for the opening three points of the new half, extending their lead to nine and were always in control from here on. Management five five changes during the final quarter and amongst those to come in were Domhnaill McMahon from the Michael Cusacks club who plays his hurling with Tubber and Liam Corry from Éire Óg, both of whom were making their league debuts. Midfielder Tony Kelly top scored with 0-12, five of which came from play on a day when eleven players shared in the Banner side’s impressive final tally.
They can expect a much stiffer test on Sunday when they travel to play Wexford who comfortably overcame the challenge of Laois in their opening round on Saturday evening. The involvement of Claremen Davy Fitzgerald as manager and Brendan Bugler as coach with the Slaneysiders is sure to add to the interest in this one.
Scorers; Clare; Tony Kelly (0-12, 7f) Shane O’Donnell (1-1), John Conlon (0-3, 1f), Ryan Taylor, Aidan McCarthy, David Fitzgerald (0-2) each; Pat O’Connor, David McInerney, Ian Galvin, David Reidy, Domhnaill McMahon (0-1) each
Carlow; Martin Kavanagh (0-7, f) Chris Nolan (0-3, 1 f) John Michael Nolan (0-2), Diarmuid Byrne (free) Richard Coady (0-1) each
1: Donal Tuohy (Crusheen)
2: Jack Browne (Ballyea)
3: Conor Cleary (Kilmaley)
4: Eoin Quirke (Whitegate)
5: Aidan McCarthy (Inagh/Kilnamona)
6: Pat O’Connor (Tubber)
7: Stephen O’Halloran (Clarecastle)
8: David McInerney (Tulla)
9: Tony Kelly (Ballyea)
10: Ian Galvin (Clonlara)
11: David Fitzgerald (Inagh/Kilnamona)
12: David Reidy (Éire Óg)
13: Ryan Taylor (Clooney/Quin)
14: John Conlon(Capt) (Clonlara)
15: Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg)
21: Domhnaill McMahon (Tubber) for Galvin (55)
17: Liam Corry (Éire Óg) for Quirke(57);
18: Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge) for Reidy (63);
25: Colin Guilfoyle (Newmarket-on-Fergus) for O’Donnell (64)
20: Niall Deasy (Ballyea) for Fitzgerald (65)
1: Damian Jordan
2: Ross Smithers
3: Paul Doyle
4: Michael Doyle
5: Kevin McDonald
6: David English
7: Diarmuid Byrne
8: Richard Coady
9: Edward Byrne
10: John Michael Nolan
11: Martin Kavanagh
12: Jon Nolan
13: Aaron Amond
14: Paul Coady
15: Chris Nolan
Sean Whelan for D. Byrne (half time);
Ted Joyce for Amond (53);
Michael Malone for P. Coady(64);
Cathal Tracey for John M. Nolan (65);
Jack Kavanagh for M. Kavanagh inj. (70)
Referee; Liam Gordon, Galway;