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Clare dump seven-times All-Ireland winners Meath out of the Championship

Clare held on for a two point victory to book their place in the second round of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers while in the process eliminating Andy McEntee’s charges.

Image: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Clare 1-11

Meath 1-09

Páraic McMahon reports from Cusack Park, Ennis

LATE POINTS FROM Keelan Sexton and Manus Doherty his first ever championship score proved just about enough for Clare to overcome Meath on Saturday evening.

Subsequent to the second ever senior championship meeting between the counties, the score is now level.

Meath claimed the 2019 clash to deny Clare a place in the Super 8s but in the familiar surroundings of Cusack Park, the Banner County avenged that outing by coming good at the critical juncture to seal their place in the second round of the qualifiers.

Without question, Clare had a very dominant start to proceedings, amassing 1-03 before Meath had even registered on the scoreboard.

Pearse Lillis goaled for the hosts on twelve minutes, getting the all-important touch to a dropping ball from Eoin Cleary.

conor-mcgill-scores-a-penalty Conor McGill of Meath scores a penalty. Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Unlike their Munster SFC quarter-final loss to Limerick, there was much more of a spark about Clare’s showing.

Their key strength during the Allianz National Football League was the pace at which they built counter-attacks, the return of Alan Sweeney to the half-back line plus the ferocity of Cian O’Dea and Ciaran Russell helped to bring this to life.

Lillis had a glorious opportunity to hit the net once again but Harry Hogan made a vital stop on fifteen minutes.

Indeed this served as a turning point in the tie, Clare may have hit the next score via Darren O’Neill but Meath responded with 0-02 in succession, Thomas O’Reilly opening their account on seventeen minutes and Matthew Costello replicating his effort.

This small burst was quelled with Eoin Cleary, Emmet McMahon and David Tubridy splitting the posts for Clare but Meath finished four of the final five scores in the opening half to be just four points adrift at the interval.

Meath may have found scores hard to come by in the opening half but the shoe was certainly on the other scoring foot for their opponents on the restart.

Clare would kick six scoreable wides before captain Eoin Cleary stepped up on fifty three minutes to equalise.

conor-jordan-and-padraic-harnan Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

In the period before his score, Meath had raided for 1-02. Full-back Conor McGill dispatched a penalty past Tristan O’Callaghan on forty minutes after substitute Joey Wallace was fouled.

Further points from Daithí McGowan and Bryan McMahon put the Royal County in front for the very first time.

With fifty five minutes on the clock, Cillian O’Sullivan responded to Cleary’s score but crucially the seven-time All-Ireland champions would fail to add a single score following on from this.

Cleary struck the equaliser with eleven minutes of normal time remaining and then a glorious opportunity to push ahead presented itself to Clare.

Manus Doherty made an invaluable block on Donal Keogan who had made a powerful run forward, the resulting counter-attack ended up with a foul Keelan Sexton and a penalty was duly awarded.

Referee Brendan Cawley made David Tubridy change his blood-stained jersey before the kick which was then excellently saved by Harry Hogan.

Hogan was in line to be Meath’s hero of the evening when he then stopped Keelan Sexton from raising a green flag on sixty eight minutes.

However there was nothing he could do to prevent Sexton from slotting the resulting 65 or to stop Manus Doherty splitting the posts on seventy two minutes to wrap up the contest.

While it represents an improvement on their showing against Limerick and the main objective has been achieved by Clare, they will be well aware that their second half display will not be sufficient when it comes to the second round. Eoin Cleary, Cian O’Dea, Manus Doherty and Alan Sweeney did best for the winners.

Collins and his management used the bench more effectively than their April loss to Billy Lee’s Limerick with the quartet of Keelan Sexton, Podge Collins, Brendy Rouine and Cillian Rouine all making their mark.

 Such a slow start to proceedings ended up catching Meath. Their second half put them right back in contention but they slipped back and were punished for failing to score in the final quarter.

When they found themselves in the driving seat in the second half, they didn’t push on and allowed Clare comeback with the final three points of the clash.

Harry Hogan was their star performer with Bryan Menton and Donal Keogan also prominent. 

Scorers Clare: E Cleary (0-04 1f), P Lillis (1-00), E McMahon (0-02), D O’Neill (0-01), J Malone (0-01), D Tubridy (0-01 1f), K Sexton (0-01 1’45), M Doherty (0-01)

Scorers Meath: C McGill (1-00 1’Pen), C O’Sullivan (0-02 1f), T O’Reilly (0-01), M Costello (0-01), J O’Connor (0-01 1f), J Scully (0-01), E Harkin (0-01), D McGowan (0-01), B McMahon (0-01 1f)

Clare:

1: Tristan O’Callaghan (St Breckans)

 

2: Manus Doherty (Éire Óg)

5: Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora)

3: Conor Jordan (Austin Stacks)

 

25: Alan Sweeney (St Breckans)

6: Ciaran Russell (Éire Óg)

7: Jamie Malone (Corofin)

 

9: Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen)

8: Darren O’Neill (Éire Óg)

 

10: Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare)

11: Eoin Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown)

12: Emmet McMahon (Kildysart)

 

15: Aaron Griffin (Lissycasey)

14: David Tubridy (Doonbeg)

13: Gavin Cooney (Éire Óg)

 

Subs:

24: Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Griffin (31)

23: Brendy Rouine (Ennistymon) for McMahon (46)

18: Podge Collins (Cratloe) for Cooney (48)

4: Cillian Rouine (Ennistymon) for Sweeney (66)

Meath:

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1: Harry Hogan (Longwood)

 

2: Robin Clarke (Duleek/Bellewstown)

3: Conor McGill (Ratoath)

4: Eoin Harkin (Dunsaney)

 

17: Cathal Hickey (Curraha)

18: Padraic Harnan (Moynalvey)

7: Donal Keogan (Rathkenny)

 

21: Daithí McGowan (Rathoath)

8: Bryan Menton (Donaghmore Ashbourne)

 

22: Jason Scully (Oldcastle)

23: Thomas O’Reilly (Wolfe Tones)

13: Matthew Costello (Dunshaughlin)

 

24: Bryan McMahon (Rathoath)

14: Cillian O’Sullivan (Moynalvey)

12: Jack O’Connor (Curraha)

Subs:

5: James McEntee (Curraha) for Hickey (24)

15: Joey Wallace (Rathoath) for Scully (HT)

25: Eamon Wallace (Rathoath) for J O’Connor (HT)

10: Jordan Morris (Kingscourt Stars, Cavan) for McMahon (58)

11: Shane Walsh (Na Fianna) for O’Reilly (66)

Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare)

About the author:

Páraic McMahon

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