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Clare pull off incredible comeback to break Wexford hearts

They trailed by six points with 11 minutes to go.

Clare's Aron Shanagher scores a late goal for Clare.
Clare's Aron Shanagher scores a late goal for Clare.
Image: Tom Maher/INPHO

Clare 1-24

Wexford 3-14

STARING CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATION in the face, Clare produced off one of the great comebacks to defeat Wexford in the All-Ireland hurling quarter-final.

Trailing by six points after 59 minutes, Clare outscored Wexford by 1-9 to 0-2 to seal their passage back to Croke Park. They move on to play Kilkenny in the last four of the All-Ireland series and the momentum gained from today should leave them in good stead for that tie. 

Brian Lohan’s team looked dead and buried yet they summoned something from within save their season when it really mattered. 

Aron Shanagher and Shane Meehan made vital contributions off the bench, firing 1-4 between them, while key men Tony Kelly, Shane O’Donnell and Ryan Taylor roared into the game.

It was a stunning finish by Clare in a game where they were being beaten all over field all over the field for long spells. They’ll be immensely relieved to have come through this test and must be credited for the heart they showed to rescue this game. 

In front of 34,640, Wexford’s game plan was simple. They employed a spare man at the back to stifle Clare’s attack and went direct to into their twin tower duo of Lee Chin and Conor McDonald. The ploy produced two second-half goals that left them 3-12 to 0-15 ahead. Darragh Egan will feel they should have seen it out from there.

Wexford produced another strong performance to back up their win over Kilkenny although they fell away badly in the closing stages.

lee-chin-celebrates-scoring-his-sides-third-goal Wexford’s Lee Chin celebrates scoring his sides third goal. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The game got off to an electric start with Jack O’Connor’s goal shortly immediately from throw-in. He fetched a long delivery and slotted past Eibhear Quilligan to leave the Banner soaring early on.

From there it turned into a scrappy contest as both teams were guilty of missed chances.

Wexford’s system frustrated Clare and their leading forwards struggled to get going. Diarmuid O’Keeffe played as sweeper and the rest of the Wexford backs went man-on-man. 

Matthew O’Hanlon tracked Peter Duggan, Damien Reck followed Shane O’Donnell and Shane Reck was assigned to Tony Kelly. Darragh Egan’s set-up had the desired effect.

Kelly missed four of his first five shots at the posts, three of them frees, and Peter Duggan replaced him on dead ball duties. Clare shot nine wides in total during that first-half.

There were brief moments of quality, however. Ian Galvin added a brace, one of them a lovely effort near the sideline over his shoulder. 

The sight of Rory O’Connor departing the fray after 14 minutes was a blow to Wexford. The scored just three points in the final 25 minutes of the half as their attack stuttered during that period. 

Chin drove a glorious goal chance over the bar after Jack O’Connor’s fine fetch over John Conlan. At the far end Clare wing-back Diarmuid Ryan brought his tally to 0-3 when he sniped forward for a quick fire brace.

Wexford’s second goal arrived when goalkeeper Mark Fanning sent a long-range free dangerously into the area and it bounced past Qulligan and into the net. It was unclear if Chin got the faintest of touches, but either way he did enough to put the Clare goalkeeper off and it ended up in the net.

Ian Galvin rattled a shot off the crossbar and moments later, Wexford had their third green flag.

The direct ball continued to cause havoc as Chin collected a long delivery and buried home. That left Wexford 3-10 to 0-14 in front with 20 minutes to go. From there they looked to  to sit deep, soak up the pressure and play on the counter. 

Brian Lohan sprang Aron Shanagher and Shane Meehan off the bench in the final 15 minutes in a desperate attempted to breathe life into his attack. It had the desired effect. That pair fired over a point apiece in addition to a pair of frees from Duggan. That reduced the gap to three.

Clare had all the momentum now and their crowd sensed it. Kelly thundered into the game, carrying forward and feeding O’Donnell who split the posts. Then arrived the key score of the game. A long ball dropped into the area and wasn’t dealt with by Fanning. It rolled out to Shanagher to drill into the net. 

Kelly followed that up with another point to send Clare three clear. Chin responded with a free and then O’Donnell spun away from a challenge to set-up Meehan for his second. 

Chin had goal on his mind when he was brought down by Conor Cleary, resulting in a pointed free. Clare hit the final two scores of the day through Kelly and Shanagher to guide them into the semi-finals. What a turnaround.

Scores for Clare: Peter Duggan 0-6 (0-6f), Aron Shanagher 1-2, Tony Kelly 0-4, Diarmuid Ryan 0-3, Ian Galvin, David Reidy, Shane O’Donnell and Shane Meehan 0-2 each, David Fitzgerald and Ryan Taylor 0-1.

Scores for Wexford: Lee Chin 1-8 (0-6f), Mark Fanning (1-0f) and Jack O’Connor 1-0 each, Oisin Foley 0-2, Damien Reck, Kevin Foley, Rory O’Connor, Mikie Dwyer, Diarmuid O’Keeffe 0-1 each.  

Clare

1. Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)

25. Rory Hayes (Shannon Wolfe Tones), 3. Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown), 4. Paul Flanagan (Ballyea)

5. Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), 6. John Conlon (Clonlara), 7. David McInerney (Tulla)

10. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge), 15. Ryan Taylor (Clooney/Quin)

8. David Fitzgerald (Inagh/Kilnamona),  12. Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg). 26. Peter Duggan (Clooney Quin)

11. Tony Kelly (Ballyea), 9. David Reidy (Éire Óg Ennis), 13. Ian Galvin (Clonlara),

Subs

2. Cian Nolan for Hayes (8)

14. Mark Rodgers for Reidy (53)

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18. Aron Shanagher for Fitzgerald (59)

19. Shane Meehan for Galvin (62) 

Wexford

1. Mark Fanning (Glynn-Barntown)

2. Simon Donohoe (Shelmaliers), 3. Liam Ryan (Rapparees), 25. Shane Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien) 

24. Diarmuid O’Keeffe (St Anne’s)

5. Matthew O’Hanlon (St James), 6. Damien Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien), 7. Paudie Foley (Crossabeg-Ballymurn)

9. Liam Óg McGovern (St Anne’s), 4. Conor Devitt (Tara Rocks)

12. Lee Chin (Faythe Harriers), 11. Jack O’Connor (St Martin’s), 10. Oisín Foley (Crossabeg-Ballymurn)

13. Rory O’Connor (St Martin’s), 14. Conor McDonald (Naomh Eanna)

Subs

15. Mikie Dwyer for O’Connor (14)  

8. Kevin Foley for O’Keeffe (62)

19. Connal Flood for O’Hanlon (63)

22. Charlie McGuckin (67) for Shane Reck (67)

23. Paul Morris for Damien Reck (69)

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork).

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / Reports from Semple Stadium

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