Susan Daly tries to clear her lines. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Galway commandingly garnered the derby spoils but a battling home performance from a fresh-faced senior side did hint at some promising raw materials in their Division 1A bow in Cusack Park.

Galway 0-17
Clare 0-8
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis

After all, ten of the 17 that contested last year’s National League final and subsequent All-Ireland Semi-Final saw action for a three-in-a-row chasing Galway whereas Clare’s vast senior overhaul ensured that there were only five survivors from last year’s Munster Final team.

Included in what turned out to be double figures in Banner debuts were six from the All-Ireland Premier Junior winning side, with Ellen Casey, Caoimhe Lally and Caoimhe Cahill making the leap appear most seamless.

Add in an impressive first outing at full-back for Abby Walsh, dogged displays from Muireann Scanlon and Caoimhe Carmody and some moments of magic through new joint-captain Aine O’Loughlin and overall while it will unquestionably be a difficult league against the tip five sides in the country at present, the experience will also be invaluable for this new-look Clare side.

The result never seemed in doubt barring an early Aine O’Loughlin picked goal chance that just trickled the wrong aide of the right post. Had that third minute chance gone in, Clare might have had something to cling to but instead once Carrie Dolan started punishing from placed balls to cement a 0-6 to 0-1 advantage by the end of the opening quarter, the hosts were always playing catch-up.

Clare carved out another goal chance in the 18th minute but referee John Dermody prematurely blew the whistle just as Grace Carmody was given possession in space to line up a shot. Aine O’Loughlin actually went for goal from the reluctant 20 metre free but it would be easily parried for a ’45 that O’Loughlin did convert for Clare’s only placed ball of the hour.

A late mini revival, thanks to points from Caoimhe Carmody and O’Loughlin, did lessen the damage to just a goal by the 26th minute. However, Clare simply couldn’t sustain that pressure as scorers-in-chief Dolan (2) and Niland tacked on the last three points just to reinforce the difference in clinicalness between the neighbours at 0-10 to 0-4.

Again Clare came out in fighting mode for the new half but couldn’t match their endeavour with tangible scores as missed frees and wides fro, play left Galway off the hook.

Having successfully weathered Clare’s storm, the pendulum swung back in the visitors’ favour for Dolan and Niland to add additional braces and extend the gap to eight entering the final ten minutes at 0-15 to 0-7.

Clare’s inexperience again surfaced in the 53rd minute when Caoimhe Cahill intercepted a puck-out and played in substitute Lorna McNamara but UL’s Ashbourne Cup winner’s effort was blocked and a received Galway cleared their lines.

As the tie drifted into injury-time, Clare were fortunate to survive an Orlaith McGrath attempt that just whistled past the far post but it mattered little as Galway eased to a comprehensive first defence of their back-to-back titles.

Scorers for Galway: Carrie Dolan 0-7 (5f); Niamh Niland 0-4; Aoife Donohue 0-2; Ailish O’Reilly, Niamh McPeake, Orlaith McGrath (f), Niamh McInerney 0-1 each

Scorers for Clare: Aine O’Loughlin 0-3 (1’45); Susan Daly, Caoimhe Carmody, Ellen Casey (f), Lorna McNamara, Caoimhe Cahill 0-1 each

Galway
1: Laura Freeney (Athenry)

2: Rachel Hanniffy (Oranmore-Maree)
3: Roisin Black (Oranmore-Maree) (Captain)
4: Ava Crowe (Carnmore)

5: Kate Manning (Mullagh)
6: Siobhan Gardiner (Ardrahan)
7: Ciara Hickey (Davitts)

8: Ally Hesnan (Shamrocks)
9: Aoife Donohue (Mullagh)

10: Carrie Dolan (Clarinbridge)
11: Ailish O’Reilly (Oranmore-Maree)
12: Niamh McPeake (Liam Mellows)

15: Niamh Niland (Clarinbridge)
14: Siobhan McGrath (Sarsfields)
13: Orlaith McGrath (Sarsfields)

Subs
20: AnnMarie Starr (Killimor) for Hesnan (51)
23: Shannon Corcoran (Sarsfields) for McPeake (51)
17: Ciara Donohue (Mullagh) for Manning (55)
19: Alannah Kelly (Portumna) for Dolan (55)
21: Olwen Rabbitte (Athenry) for S. McGrath (57)
25: Niamh McInerney (Shamrocks) for Niland (60)
27: Sabina Rabbitte (Athenry) for O. McGrath (60)
28: Dervla Higgins (Athenry) for Hanniffy (60)

Clare
1: Rachael Daly (Scariff-Ogonnelloe)

2: Caoimhe Lally (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
3: Abby Walsh (Scariff-Ogonnelloe)
4: Muireann Scanlon (Cratloe)

5: Susan Daly (Scariff-Ogonnelloe)
6: Ellen Casey (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
7: Laoise Ryan (Inagh-Kilnamona)

8: Caoimhe Carmody (Kilmaley)
9: Ciara Grogan (Clooney-Quin) (Joint-Captain)

10: Labhaoise O’Donnell (Scariff-Ogonnelloe)
12: Jennifer Daly (Scariff-Ogonnelloe)
17: Lynda Daly (Scariff-Ogonnelloe)

13: Grace Carmody (Kilmaley)
14: Aine O’Loughlin (Truagh-Clonlara) (Joint-Captain)
15: Caoimhe Cahill (Kilmaley)

Subs
11: Zi Yan Spillane (Feakle-Killanena) for O’Donnell (HT)
19: Rachel Minogue (Scariff-Ogonnelloe) for Ryan (HT)
18: Lorna McNamara (Feakle-Killanena) for L. Daly (39)
20: Aoife Anderson (Ruan) for G. Carmody (52)
7: Ryan for S. Daly (61, inj)
13: Carmody for Cahill (63, inj)

Referee: John Dermody (Westmeath)

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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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