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Semi-final defeat for Clare hurlers against Galway

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Clare have been knocked out of the All-Ireland SHC championship at the semi-final stage losing to Galway by a single point on Sunday afternoon.

Galway 1-17
Clare 2-13
Venue: Semple Stadium, Thurles

Nineteen wides would prove costly for Clare as they let a glorious opportunity of dethroning Galway slip in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final replay. In fact, they hit their lowest tally of the championship as Galway booked their spot in the final against Limerick.

In many ways the opening half resembled the drawn game between the sides last weekend. Clare were slow to start allowing Galway build up a sizeable advantage. With eleven minutes played the scoreboard read 0-06 0-02, in Croke Park with the same amount of time played it was 0-06 0-01.

Again Galway were the sharper side and had four points on the board before Clare opened their account. Hurler of the Year Joe Canning had five scoring opportunities inside the first eight minutes, he converted three of them but the space afforded to a player of his ability was far too much.

Two Peter Duggan frees in as many minutes settled the Banner somewhat only for Mícheál Donoghue’s men to respond with four scores on the bounce. In this All-Ireland semi-final, it took Clare twenty minutes to score from play and Tony Kelly was the man to do so, the ever hard-working Shane O’Donnell created the effort with an excellent catch from the sky.

Jonathan Glynn and O’Donnell then swapped points before two final Clare scores via Duggan and Podge Collins reduced the distance to six heading in at half-time.

An early altercation on the restart gave the impression that Clare were not going to be bullied and they lifted their game in the second thirty five. Substitute Ian Galvin hit their first point but it was cancelled out by Joe Canning and Conor Whelan.

On forty two minutes, a David McInerney clearance was flicked to Shane O’Donnell by John Conlon, the Éire Óg man showed immense composure and control to hold off several Galway defenders and fire past James Skehill for their first goal.

Two Duggan frees brought Clare to within two points only for Galway to steady with white flags from Joe Canning and Niall Burke.

Nine minutes after O’Donnell’s goal, it was Peter Duggan’s turn to raise the green flag. This one was hit in by Cathal Malone and again Conlon nudged the sliotar towards Shane O’Donnell whose accuracy from the corner found an on-rushing Duggan who eventually hit the net.

Aron Shanagher brought Clare back to within a point on the sixty third minute, efforts from Canning, Conlon, Niall Burke and Duggan followed which left the gap at one point as Fergal Horgan’s full-time whistle blew.

Further improvement is required from Galway if they are to retain their All-Ireland title. Managing the injuries is obviously Mícheál Donoghue’s biggest concern, the next day he will come up against a team full of confidence having successfully marched comebacks in their last two games. Their half-back line stood up today while the efficiency of the Tribesmen’s forwards was up a notch from last weekend. They learned the most from the draw and crucially it’s why they are champions.

On reflection the wides are a major reason why the Banner have exited the championship. On top of this was an inability to learn lessons from the drawn encounter. Conor Cooney almost raided for a second Galway goal in the first half as Conor Cleary failed to rise or push the ball to the side, just like their goal in Croke Park when the ball should have been removed from the danger area. The Kilmaley was not the only one guilty of not learning. Shot selection was an issue in extra time and it stirred its head again in Thurles. As was the case all year Clare faded in and out of the game, this needs to be addressed going forward.

Ian Galvin had more points from play than any man wearing a saffron and blue jersey yet he only featured for thirty six minutes. The workrate of Clare’s full-forward line was very evident throughout but all six attackers did not keep the scoreboard ticking regularly enough in the opening half. Having Galvin on from the start could have helped in this regard, elsewhere Aron Shanagher should have been sprung from the bench sooner while failings in the backline took too long to remedy. This plus the gradual decline of Conor McGrath’s confidence, one of the county’s greatest forwards have been the areas where Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor fell short.

Of course the narrative would have been very different had Clare prevailed. Reaching this stage for the first time since 2013 is a positive sign but when we get there it’s about getting to the summit, it was within distance and bridging it must be the objective for 2019. The exploits of John Conlon this year ensure he is a certain All-Star while Jack Browne and Shane O’Donnell cannot be far behind. Today is a disappointing one but looking at the bigger picture will reveal that we had more good days than bad in 2019.

1. James Skehill (Ceapach an tSeagail)
2. Adrian Tuohey (Beithe)
3. Daithi Burke (An Turloch Mór)
4. John Hanbury (Rathún-An Caisleán Nua)
7. Aidan Harte (Gort Inse Guaire)
5. Padraic Mannion (Áth Eascrach-Fothaine)
10. Joseph Cooney (Na Sáirséalaigh)
8. Johnny Coen (Baile Locha Riach)
9. David Burke (Capt.) (Naomh Thómais) (0-02)
11. Joe Canning (Port Omna) (0-08 4f 1SC)
13. Conor Whelan (Cinn Mhara) (0-03)
15. Cathal Mannion (Áth Eascrach-Fothaine) (0-01)
21: Niall Burke (Órán Mór-Méaraí) (0-02)
14. Conor Cooney (Naomh Thómais) (0-01)
12. Jonathan Glynn (Ardrahan) (1-00)

18: Sean Loftus (An Turloch Mór) for Hanbury (54)
25: Jason Flynn (Tomás Ó Lorcáin) for C Cooney (58)
26: Davy Glennon (An Mullach) for Glynn (71)

1. Donal Tuohy (Crusheen)
3. David McInerney (Tulla)
2. Patrick O’Connor (Tubber) – CAPTAIN
4. Jack Browne (Ballyea)
8. Colm Galvin (Clonlara)
5. Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge)
6. Conor Cleary (St Josephs Miltown)
7. Jamie Shanahan (Sixmilebridge)
11. Tony Kelly (Ballyea)
19. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona)
10. Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin) (1-06 6f)
12. David Reidy (Éire Óg Inis)
15. Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg Inis) (1-00)
14. John Conlon (Clonlara) (0-01)
13. Podge Collins (Cratloe) (0-01)
23. Ian Galvin (Clonlara) (0-02) for Reidy (34)
9. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge) for Fitzgerald (43)
17. Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones) for O’Connor (57) (Inj)
20. Michael O’Malley (Kilmaley) for Shanahan (60)
26. Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones na Sionna) (0-01) for Collins (63)

Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)

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