*Mark Rodgers gets a shot away. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

CLARE’s senior hurlers are off to a winning start in the Allianz National Hurling League following a 1-25 2-19 win over Cork.

Eoin Brennan analyses the performances of the twenty Clare hurlers that featured over the hour for Brian Lohan’s side.

Eibhear Quilligan. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
1: Eibhear Quilligan

A solid first afternoon for the Feakle stopper who was making his seasonal competitive bow. Could do nothing for either goal as was left exposed for both first half strikes. Distribution and handling were decent and even prevented a Patrick Horgan point by taking it down from over crossbar.
Rating: 7

3: Conor Cleary

Clare’s captain started in the corner on the physical threat of Brian Hayes, with the pair having a decent duel in the opening period. Harshly pulled for a throw that coughed up a free but in an unconventional full-back line coped well as his marker was withdrawn at the turn of the final quarter.
Rating: 7

4: Paul Flanagan

Handed the unenviable task of shadowing Patrick Horgan who despite being in his 17th season at senior level, still has a superb turn of feet and first touch. The Ballyea man matched him throughout though, highlighted by the fact that Horgan didn’t score a point from play
Rating: 7

Adam Hogan clears his lines. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
2: Adam Hogan

Another to keep his marker to a single score as Hogan continued where he left off in 2023 with a compelling physically demanding tussle with Robbie O’Flynn. Indeed, the only blot in his copy book was that he lost his marker for the second goal as O’Flynn directly teed up Tommy O’Connell.
Rating: 7

5: Diarmuid Ryan

The Cratloe man has set such a high bar over the past few seasons that he’s also judged accordingly. Was his usual commanding self at wing-back but unusually didn’t get on the scoresheet and got caught for the opening goal as Sean Twomey turned him and bore down on goal.
Rating: 7

Diarmuid Ryan and David McInerney surround Sean Twomey. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
6: David McInerney

A first start for McInerney and was extremely influential early on, even landing Clare’s second point of the afternoon from his own ’65. With marker Conor Lehane dropping off, perhaps needed to sit back in the pocket more though as both first half goals stemmed from central positions.
Rating: 7

7: Darragh Lohan

Was combative in the opening period but came into his own more in the second half when first being predominantly utilised in a sweeping role before reverting to the wing as tensions heightened late on. Didn’t waste any possession either as looked more composed in second half.
Rating: 7

Cathal Malone. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
8: Cathal Malone

Yet again he was an essential part of Clare’s victory as not only did Malone score a brace of points but also used his physicality to disrupt the Rebels and also link the play for his own side. In addition, had a major hand in Clare’s clinching goal when relieving the danger for David Fitzgerald’s cross.
Rating: 8

Sean Rynne gives away a free. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
22: Sean Rynne

The first of hopefully many senior outings for the promising Under 20 who did find it difficult, especially physically to influence matters around the centre. Set up a point for Robin Mounsey but also had two uncharacteristically robust challenges that eventually earned him a yellow and his withdrawal at half-time.
Rating: 6

10: David Fitzgerald

Showed great experience to remain disciplined in his position and was rewarded with producing big moments when on the ball in setting up a goal chance in either half for Mark Rodgers and Seadna Morey, each other an inch-perfect final pass while also picking off two points of his own.
Rating: 8

Robin Mounsey tackles Tommy O’Connell. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
11: Robin Mounsey

A mixed but overall encouraging outing for the Ruan man as he scored two excellent points and set up two more in a great first half but at times had a ring-rusty first touch which meant he got caught up in the physical exchanges which didn’t suit his swift game. Worth persevering at centre-forward though.
Rating: 7

20: Gearoid Sheedy

Another to start confidently but eventually fade in what was a very positive senior debut for the Ogonnelloe man. Had a hand in the first score for Mark Rodgers, got his first National league point soon afterwards and also earned a free that Rodgers converted but will take time to adjust to this level.
Rating: 6

13: Mark Rodgers

Is already Clare’s marquee forward, oozing class in everything he does. Scored 13 points including two from play and two frees he earned himself but was also unlucky for a goal that was superbly saved. Tracked brilliantly too and deservedly got man of the match especially considering that he was man-marked by Sean O’Donoghue.
Rating: 9

Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
14: Aidan McCarthy

Essentially found it difficult to really get into the game as the ball just didn’t fall for the Inagh-Kilnamona man to get on the scoreboard. Did win the opening free of the second half for Rodgers to convert but was eventually withdrawn for Shane Meehan at the three-quarters mark.
Rating: 6

12: David Reidy

The experienced Éire Óg forward was his usual busy self as he scored a point in either half, won two frees and also set up two points for others from his roaming corner-forward berth. It’s that versatility that makes him so valuable to the cause, only replaced in the final minutes for Keith Smyth to get a run out.
Rating: 7

David Reidy. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Subs

19: Seadna Morey

Was electric upon his introduction for Sean Rynne at half-time as his normal energy was indicative of Clare’s overall spirit against the conditions in the second half. Scored the clinching goal in an impressive 1-1 haul and directly teed up a point for Reidy.
Rating: 8

17: Peter Duggan

In contrast to Morey, the experienced Duggan did find it difficult to get up to the speed of the contest as ran out over a few balls but did break the ball for David Fitzgerald to run onto to set up Morey’s goal.
Rating: 5

15: Shane Meehan

Was down to start but did put his hand up for a definite starting position against Waterford as he won a free that Rodgers converted while also picking off a point in his final quarter introduction.
Rating: 6

24: Patrick Crotty

Got a seven minute cameo but not enough to influence matters.
Rating: 5

26: Keith Smyth

Similar to Crotty, his five minute run-out wasn’t at a time when Clare were on front-foot.
Rating: 5

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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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