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Clare's fast start key as they end Wexford's season in All-Ireland hurling qualifier

Semple Stadium hosted today’s game.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Clare 2-25

Wexford 2-22

A KNOCKOUT AFTERNOON in the sweltering heat in Thurles delivered some clear judgements in the 2021 hurling championship.

Wexford headed to the exit door, just like they did to the same opposition as last November. If this performance was heroic and full of fight at the finish as they tried to claw back the deficit they faced, ultimately they succumbed due to the explosive opening from Clare that always put daylight between the teams on the scoreboard.

Brian Lohan’s team endured a nervy time in the second half but could finally relax when substitute Gary Cooney touched a Tony Kelly delivery to the net in injury-time. Lee Chin, superb with his overall total of 1-12, blasted a second Wexford goal in the closing passage of play but it proved too late.

Clare’s challenge ignited from the start. They were aggressive in the tackle, full of energy in the tight exchanges in the middle and clinical when the scoring chances arose. Eight different players contributed there in the first half.

a-clare-fan-celebrates-the-late-goal A Clare fan celebrates their late goal. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The game looked to hinge on on a critical 60-second spell early on. Rory O’Connor flashed a shot that touched the net at one end and sparked Wexford cheers, but it was on the outside and the wrong side of the upright. Clare countered immediately, when Cathal Malone gathered and charged through, he was being dragged back but Fergal Horgan utilised the advantage rule well. Malone capitalised to crash home the game’s first goal. He clipped over a point soon after and Clare were ahead 1-5 to 0-1.

That flying form continued, Rory Hayes dashed forward before the first water break to push them ahead 1-9 to 0-3. Even that momentary lull did not allow Wexford to immediately gather themselves. They were 11 points down by the 21st minute and staring at a mountain that needed to be climbed.

Then a lifeline appeared. Clare had a couple of chances to clear a delivery but as the sliotar bounced around, Diarmuid O’Keeffe raced in to grab. He made a straight line for goal and smashed in a shot that gave Eibhear Quilligan no chance.

Clare chipped over a few points and looked to have taken the sting out of Wexford when they went ahead 1-15 to 1-5 by the 30th minute. However Davy Fitzgerald saw his team take charge. Chin was their scoring leader but Cathal Dunbar was also inspirational in that regard. They hit five points in a row before half-time and then three in succession after the break.

gary-cooney-celebrates-after-the-game Gary Cooney celebrates after the game.

lee-chin-after-the-game A dejected Lee Chin after Wexford's defeat. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The Clare response will have pleased Brian Lohan. They felt Wexford breathing down their necks but never wilted under the pressure. Mark Rodgers caught the eye off the bench while Ryan Taylor, Aidan McCarthy, Aron Shanagher and David Reidy chipped in with vital points at vital times.

There was a strong balance to their scoring rate. Wexford trailed 1-21 to 1-17 at the second half water break and cut the gap to three during the finale. The second goal never arrived in time though. The Clare defence got in a few crucial flicks at stages when Chin, Conor McDonald and Rory O’Connor threatened to weave some attacking magic.

Cooney’s intervention clinched Clare’s spot in Monday’s draw, Chin’s strike immaterial as Wexford’s journey for the year ended.

Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly 0-9 (0-7f), Cathal Malone 1-1, Aidan McCarthy, David Reidy, Ryan Taylor 0-3 each, Gary Cooney 1-0, Mark Rodgers, Aron Shanagher 0-2 each, Rory Hayes, Diarmuid Ryan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Wexford: Lee Chin 1-12 (0-9f, 0-1 ’65), Cathal Dunbar 0-5, Diarmuid O’Keeffe 1-0, Conor McDonald, Rory O’Connor 0-2 each, Liam Óg McGovern 0-1.

Clare

1. Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)

4. Paul Flanagan (Ballyea), 3. Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay), 2. Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones).

5. Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), 6. John Conlon (Clonlara – captain), 7. Páidí Fitzpatrick (Sixmilebridge).

8. Colm Galvin (Clonlara), 11. Tony Kelly (Ballyea).

9 Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge), 13. David Reidy (Éire Óg), 15. Ryan Taylor (Clooney-Quin).

10. Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones), 12. Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona), 14. Ian Galvin (Clonlara).

Subs

18. David McInerney (Tulla) for Fitzpatrick (half-time)

19. Mark Rodgers (Scarriff) for Ian Galvin (in) (48)

17. Jack Browne (Ballyea) for Colm Galvin (55)

23. Aaron Fitzgerald (Éire Óg) for Conlon (65)

24. Gary Cooney (O’Callaghan Mills) for Shanagher (70)

Wexford

1. Mark Fanning (Glynn-Barntown)

5. Gavin Bailey (Ferns St Aidan’s), 3. Liam Ryan (Rapparees), 6. Matthew O’Hanlon (St James).

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15. Kevin Foley (Rapparees)

4. Simon Donohoe (Shelmaliers),  9. Liam Óg McGovern (St Anne’s), 7. Joe O’Connor (St Martin’s).

2. Shane Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien), 8. Diarmuid O’Keeffe (St Anne’s).

14. Rory O’Connor (St Martin’s), 11. Lee Chin (Faythe Harriers), 12. Conor McDonald (Naomh Éanna).

21. Cathal Dunbar (Naomh Éanna), 10. Paul Morris (Ferns St Aidan’s).

Subs

19. Damien Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien) for Joe O’Connor (46)

22. Jack O’Connor (St Martin’s) for McGovern (47)

20. Aidan Nolan (Halfway House Bunclody) for Morris (53)

18. Connal Flood (Cloughbawn) for Bailey (59)

13. Mikie Dwyer (St Mogue’s Fethard) for O’Keeffe (66)

Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Semple Stadium

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