CLARE DIDN’T BREAK any hearts or records but still managed to obtain the perfect St Valentine’s present with a winning start to the Allianz Hurling League in Cusack Park this afternoon.
What the game lacked in quality, it more than made up for in drama, with three dismissals and a penalty save but it was the hosts’ late goals in either half that saw them eventually prevail with some ease.
It was all so different in the opening quarter as Offaly used Shane Kinsella as a sweeper and held in whip hand in terms of scores, in contrast to their misfiring opponents who would fire 10 first-half wides.
Paddy Murphy and Shane Dooley both grabbed early braces as the visitors led by 0-6 to 0-4 by the 20th minute, only for the Banner to finally hone their radar and outscore their Leinster opponents by 1-9 to 0-1 for the remainder of the half, mainly thanks to Colin Ryan’s placed balls and a Peter Duggan goal.
That put Clare 1-13 to 0-7 in front by the break but they failed to kick on from that vantage point as well, as Duggan and Conor Doughan were sent off for an off-the-ball incident before Offaly cut the arrears to seven as the game entered the final quarter.
A second yellow for corner-back Paddy Rigney and a saved penalty from Shane Dooley proved the death knell for Offaly though, as Clare regrouped once more with five unanswered points before substitute Aron Shanagher capped off his senior debut with an injury-time goal to flesh out the final margin.
Scorers for Clare: Colin Ryan 0-9 (7f); John Conlon 0-3; Peter Duggan 1-0, Aron Shanagher 1-0; David McInerney, Bobby Duggan (1f) 0-2; Colm Galvin, Cian Dillon, David Reidy, Conor Cleary, Shane O’Donnell 0-1 each.
Scorers for Offaly: Shane Dooley 0-8 (6f, 1′ 65); Pat Camon 0-3; Paddy Murphy 0-2; Conor Doughan, Shane Kinsella 0-1 each.
1. Patrick Kelly (Inagh-Kilnamona)
2. Paul Flanagan (Ballyea)
3. Cian Dillon (Crusheen, captain)
4. Patrick O’Connor (Tubber)
5. Conor Cleary (Kilmaley)
6. David McInerney (Tulla)
7. Conor Ryan (Cratloe)
8. David Reidy (Éire Óg)
9. Colm Galvin (Clonlara)
11. John Conlon (Clonlara)
12. Colin Ryan (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
10. Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin)
13. Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg)
14. Darach Honan (Clonlara)
15. Conor McGrath (Cratloe)
20. Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones) for Honan (35, inj)
21. Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones) for Conlon (38, inj)
22. Bobby Duggan (Clarecastle) for Colin Ryan (51)
23. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona) for McGrath (57)
17. Jack Browne (Ballyea) for Conor Ryan (63)
1. James Dempsey (Kinnitty)
2. Niall Wynne (St Rynagh’s)
3. Chris McDonald (Brosna Gaels)
4. Paddy Rigney (Kinnitty)
7. Pat Camon (St Rynagh’s)
6. Conor Doughan (Shinrone)
12. Sean Gardiner (Lusmagh)
8. Padraig Guinan (Drumcullen)
9. Shane Kinsella (Kinnitty)
13. Paddy Murphy (Ballinamere)
14. Shane Dooley (Tullamore)
5. Joe Bergin (Seir Kieran)
15. Jason Sampson (Shinrone)
11. Colin Egan (Belmont)
10. James Mulrooney (Seir Kieran)
19. Joey O’Connor (St Rynagh’s) for Guinan (31)
18. Stephen Quirke (St Rynagh’s) for Sampson (35)
17. Sean Cleary (Shinrone) for Mulrooney (62)
23. Brendan Murphy (Birr) for Bergin (65)
Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny)
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