An Inagh/Kilnamona combination between David Fitzgerald and Jason McCarthy secured a last-minute draw for Clare in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final.
Venue: Croke Park
Five years Clare hurling supporters have been waiting to return to Croke Park and their beloved hurlers gave them a display worth waiting for after gritting out a well-earned draw with Galway which means they are still seventy minutes away from an All-Ireland final.
A nervy start from Clare allowed Galway to build up a sizeable advantage in the opening quarter with the reigning All-Ireland champions outscoring them 8-1. One of these included a goal from Conor Cooney which should never have materialised, despite outnumbering the Galway attack, Clare failed to clear the ball and were disposed right in front of Donal Tuohy’s goal and when Cooney ended up with the sliotar the result was inevitable.
It was a different game in the second quarter as Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor’s side found their feet and in this period they did the bulk of the scoring 8-3 to be precise. Wastefulness on Galway’s part saw them fluff several opportunities and in the course of the first half they had twelve wides.
Galway were left waiting out on the field for several minutes before the second half could commence, this was the sign that Clare meant business and that they did outscoring their opponents 0-17 0-13.
Although Joe Canning was the first off the mark with a sideline cut, the Banner responded with five points on the trot. The Tribesmen steadied and added four points of their own without reply as the excitement levels gradually reached what we expect for an All-Ireland semi-final.
Conor Cooney almost had a second goal only for a fantastic Donal Tuohy save denied the St Thomas’ man. Fresh legs also helped the Clare cause with David Fitzgerald having an immediate impact, as the game entered the closing stages the Inagh/Kilnamona man was also on hand to set up Ian Galvn for an equalising point on the sixty first minute.
Cathal Mannion and Peter Duggan then traded scorers before the Leinster champions hit a brace of 0-03. Clare didn’t panic and points from John Conlon and Tony Kelly accompanied by a Peter Duggan free sent the tie to extra time.
While Galway were guilty of missed chances in normal time, it was Clare who spurned chance after chance in extra time. They had seven wides in the first period of extra time which was more than they hit in the entire second half. Galway kept their account ticking with Joe Canning points while a solitary Ian Galvin score gave the Saffron and Blue faithful something to cheer for.
Clare upped it after the break and got the perfect start when Aron Shanagher in his first appearance of the year goaled past James Skehill to put them in front for the first time of the game. Duggan and Shane O’Donnell raised further white flags while Jason Flynn hit three for Galway and up stepped Johnny Coen to score what seemed to be the winner but Clare had other ideas and Jason McCarthy with his first shot of the game ensured it would be a draw.
Once again, perseverance paid off, similar to the Munster championship win against Tipp, Clare didn’t let a below par start affect them. Redeploying Colm Galvin as a sweeper allowed them regain their composure and it again showed that this is not a negative tactic but one used to assist a team negate the influence of their opponents up front. Management also had the vision to move the Clonlara man up the field when the game was in the melting pot. With such a physical and skillful attack, the Banner defence were under immense pressure, Galvin’s helpful presence was a major factor in the result.
Galvin was the best player on show but overall it was the collective display that saw Clare keep their championship aspirations alive. David Fitzgerald certainly is in line for a starting position in the middle of the field for the replay which takes place on Sunday at 2pm. He scored immediately after his introduction and also was crucial in setting up scores for the lively Ian Galvin and the all-important Jason McCarthy equaliser.
Losing Gearoid McInerney and Joe Canning to injury were massive blows for Galway. Having them back in the starting fifteen is pivotal for their chances in the replay. They will definitely feel they let this game slip, having bossed matters for the opening half to only hold a four point advantage at half-time was a setback along with their missed chances. Nonetheless they didn’t let Clare get too far ahead and their chances of holding on to Liam McCarthy are still alive and at the end of the day that is all they will be worried about.
1. James Skehill (Ceapach an tSeagail)
4. John Hanbury (Rathún-An Caisleán Nua)
3. Daithi Burke (An Turloch Mór)
2. Adrian Tuohy (Beithe)
5. Padraic Mannion (Áth Eascrach-Fothaine)
6. Gearoid McInerney (Órán Mór-Meáraí)
7. Aidan Harte (Gort Inse Guaire)
9. David Burke (Capt.) (Naomh Thómais) (0-03)
8. Johnny Coen (Baile Locha Riach) (0-02)
10. Joseph Cooney (Na Sáirséalaigh)
13. Conor Whelan (Cinn Mhara) (0-03)
11. Joe Canning (Port Omna) (0-12 6f 2SC)
15. Cathal Mannion (Áth Eascrach-Fothaine) (0-04)
14. Conor Cooney (Naomh Thómais) (1-01)
12. Jonathan Glynn (Ardrahan) (0-01)
22: Niall Burke (Órán Mór-Méaraí) (0-01)for J Cooney (52)
17: Paul Killeen (Tighneatha-Mainstir-Dún Doighre) for McInerney (53) (Inj)
25: Jason Flynn (Tomás Ó Lorcáin) (0-03 1f) for C Cooney (61)
18: Sean Loftus (An Turloch Mór) for Tuohy (70)
10: Joseph Cooney (Na Sáirséalaigh) for David Burke (81)
14: Conor Cooney (Naomh Thómais) for Whelan (80)
26: Davy Glennon (An Mullach) for Canning (82) (Inj)
1. Donal Tuohy (Crusheen)
2. Patrick O’Connor (Tubber) – CAPTAIN
3. David McInerney (Tulla)
4. Jack Browne (Ballyea)
5. Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge)
6. Conor Cleary (St Josephs Miltown)
7. Jamie Shanahan (Sixmilebridge)
8. Colm Galvin (Clonlara) (0-01)
9. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge)
10. Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin) (0-14 11f)
11. Tony Kelly (Ballyea) (0-03 1SC)
12. David Reidy (Éire Óg Inis) (0-01)
13. Podge Collins (Cratloe)
14. John Conlon (Clonlara) (0-04)
15. Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg Inis) (0-03)
19. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona) (0-01) for Malone (48)
23. Ian Galvin (Clonlara) (0-02) for Reidy (60)
25. Conor McGrath (Cratloe) for Collins (58)
26. Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones na Sionna) (1-00) for O’Donnell (67)
15: Shane O’Donnell for McGrath (82)
21. Jason McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona) (0-01) for Shanahan (80)
Referee: James Owens (Wexford)