*Clare captain Eoin Cleary. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Clare’s senior footballers have kicked off their 2021 campaign with a fully merited seven point win.

Clare 1-16
Laois 0-12
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis

Colm Collins’ footballers have began their competitive action for the year with a deserved 1-16 0-12 win over Laois. A result that never seemed in doubt throughout the seventy minutes in Ennis on Sunday afternoon.

Besides losing Jamie Malone to injury within three minutes, Clare had a largely positive start to proceedings. Gavin Cooney teed up Eoin Cleary for the first point of the game on two minutes and this was followed by white flags from Keelan Sexton and Cathal O’Connor.

Laois opened their account via Donie Kingston and seven minutes, he had a second point within two minutes.

Daniel Walsh who made his debut for the Clare seniors had his first point on nine minutes. As the half wore on, the Kilmurry Ibrickane made raided for goal with an excellent finish that left Niall Corbett with little chance.

Walsh’s strike on twenty five minutes stemmed straight from a Stephen Ryan kickout which was batted down by Darren O’Neill to his midfield partner Cathal O’Connor. Éire Óg’s Cooney was on hand once again to provide the assist with Walsh making no mistaken when given the opportunity. Captain Cleary and Kingston traded scores to leave Clare 1-08 0-05 clear at half-time.

David Tubridy replaced Keelan Sexton at half-time and within moments, the Doonbeg attacker had registered on the board. His placed ball followed that of Cleary while Paul Kingston kept Laois’ account ticking over.

Pearse Lillis who played in attack for the game, having been primarily in the Banner backline in recent years kicked an excellent point as the tie entered the final quarter. Eoin Cleary would also add a fine white flag from the sideline, while Laois finished out with the final three scores of the evening, it was insufficient to make a major dent on the scoreline.

Daniel Walsh impressed in recent club campaigns for Kilmurry Ibrickane but he really stood up to the mark when making his county senior debut. He scored 1-02 from wing back and added to the overall Clare performance. Lissycasey’s Aaron Griffin and Ikem Ugwueru of Éire Óg were also given their first appearances in the senior jersey as Collins continues to test the strength of his panel.

Stiffer tests lie in Clare’s path as the weeks progress but this is most certainly a positive start with Podge Collins and Kevin Harnett among the players still to return to the Banner fold. Alongside Walsh, Eoghan Collins, Pearse Lillis, Eoin Cleary and Cian O’Dea did best.

Scorers Clare: E Cleary (0-10 5f 1’45), D Walsh (1-02), K Sexton (0-01), C O’Connor (0-01), D Tubridy (0-01 1f), P Lillis (0-01).

Scorers Laois: D Kingston (0-04 2f), G Walsh (0-03 2f), C Begley (0-02), N Corbett (0-01 1f), P Kingston (0-01), B Byrne (0-01).

Clare:

1: Stephen Ryan (Kilrush Shamrocks)

5: Ciaran Russell (Éire Óg)
3: Cillian Brennan (Clondegad)
4: Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis)

6: Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora)
17: Sean Collins (Cratloe)
25: Daniel Walsh (Kilmurry Ibrickane)

20: Darren O’Neill (Éire Óg)
9: Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen)

8: Darragh Bohannon (Shannon Gaels)
11: Eoin Cleary (St Josephs Miltown)
10: Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare)

13: Gavin Cooney (Éire Óg)
12: Jamie Malone (Corofin)
14: Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane)

Subs:
15: Joe McGann (St Breckans) for Malone (3) (Inj)
23: David Tubridy (Doonbeg) for Sexton (HT)
7: Alan Sweeney (St Breckans) for E Collins (54)
26: Emmet McMahon (Kildysart) for O’Neill (54)
18: Aaron Griffin (Lissycasey) for Cooney (63)
19: Cormac Murray (St Josephs Miltown) for Lillis (63)
24: Ikem Ugwueru (Éire Óg) for O’Dea (66).

Laois:
1: Niall Corbett (Cluain na Slí/Naomh Meanmain)

2: Robert Pigott (Cúil an tSudaire)
3: Mark Timmons (Graig Chuillinn)
4: Trevor Collins (Graig Chuillinn)

5: Gareth Dillon (Portlaoise)
6: Colm Begley (Sráidbhaile)
7: Patrick O’Sullivan (Cúil an tSudaire)

8: Kieran Lillis (Portlaoise)
9: John O’Loughlin (Ros Fhionnghlaise)

10: Mark Barry (Na Diomasaigh)
11: Evan O’Carroll (Crochta Ard)
12: Daniel O’Reilly (Graig Chuillinn)

13: Eoin Lowry (Gleann Uisean)
14: Donal Kingston (Ard Lios Chilín)
15: Paul (Graig Chuillinn)

Subs:
18: Gary Walsh (Baile Uí Laigheanáin) for O’Reilly (HT)
19: Brian Byrne (Graig Chuillinn) for Lowry (45)
17: Brian Daly(Naomh Seosamh) for Lillis (54)
24: Michael Keogh (Naomh Seosamh) for Barry (54)
21: Eoin Buggie (Sráidbhaile) for Collins (62)
25: Ross Munnelly (Ard Lios Cill Chrúis) for P Kingston (66)
22: Shane Bolger (Gleann Uisean) for Timmins (66)

Referee: Seamus Mulvihill (Kerry)

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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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