By Michael O Connor.
Thurles awaits us evening on a weekend when Anthony Daly became the hottest GAA managerial property. Headlines for Clare defeating Laois in a game that was considered a possible sticky wicket were reviewed and relegated to the corners when Dublin raced past Galway led by the genial Clarecastle hurling man.
The difficulty experienced by Galway who were ultimately proven to have feet of clay at this stage of the season at any rate in overcoming Laois had hurling pundits suggesting that Clare might not have it all their own way. How incorrect that belief proved to be for those in the 7,000 attendance in beautiful conditionsafternoon. Such was the ease of the Clare win that an astonishing 15 Clare players registered scores over the 70 minutes.
Gasps of incredulity greeted the opening puck outs of Laois netminder, Eoin Reilly as they landed on the Clare 21 yard line. Clare eventually tackled the issue with an extra defender and profited from Laois dropping back players allowing the short game to develop unhindered with Cian Dillon one of the stars of the evening. Brendan Bugler and John Brophy had the opening scores before Zane Keenan who gave Patrick Donnellan issues struck a brace for the visitors before David McInerney was moved to centre back for the remainder of the first half. John Conlon, Peter Duggan (2), Colin Ryan and Colm Galvin were on the mark for Clare before Keenan struck for his third point leaving Clare (0-6) to (0-4) ahead but definitely getting to grips with the Laois tactic. Colin Ryan, David McInerney, Colin Ryan, Darach Honan and Ryan again went on a quick fire scoring spree to race Clare (0-11) to (0-4) ahead before the home side’s first wide in the 16th minute. Over the course of the game each Clare defender bar Domhnall O Donovan got on the scoreboard. The second quarter saw Clare hammer home their superiority and end the game as an event of importance. Peter Duggan, Darach Honan, Conor McGrath, Colin Ryan (2) all hit the target as Laois added four courtesy of Stephen Maher (3) and Willie Hyland who had a quiet outing.
Clare retired to the coolness of the dressingroom (0-17) to (0-8) at the interval but still getting into difficulty with the short ball as goals did not seem on the agenda with 30 points the reported target set by the management to fine tune their sharpness for tougher targets. Clare had the tally up to 20 points by the 40th minute as Darach Honan, Pat O Connor and Colin Ryan were on target as Maher was the only Laois response. Both sides began to empty their benches as Clare used players who had little game time got to this juncture in the championship. PJ Scully and Ryan once more exchanged scores to leave Clare (0-21) to (0-11) ahead after 42 minutes.
The remaining 25 minutes resembled a duck shoot with Clare lining up the chances and taking them with ease. Ryan (3), McGrath, Collins, Duggan and Liam Markham added seven in ten minutes as Clare were at the 28 point marging with Laois on an unlucky 13. Shane O Donnell struck the game’s only goal as Laois were on their knees begging for the final whistle and this did finally come for those who wanted the game to end and move onto the next game against Wexford in Semple Stadium at.
CLARE: Patrick Kelly, Domhnall O Donovan, David McInerney (0-1), Cian Dillon (0-1), Brendan Bugler (0-1), Patrick Donnellan (0-1), Patrick O Connor (0-1), Colm Galvin (0-1), Colin Ryan (0-11), John Conlon (0-1), Tony Kelly (0-1), Peter Duggan (0-4), Padraic Collins (0-2), Darach Honan (0-3),Conor McGrath (0-3). Subs: Liam Markham (0-1) for Galvin, Seadna Morey for Bugler, Aaron Cunningham for Conlon, Jonathan Clancy for Ryan, Shane O Donnell (1-0) for Honan
LAOIS: Eoin Reilly, Brian Stapleton, Darren Maher, John Delaney, Joe Fitzpatrick, Matt Whelan, Gearoid Burke, Cahir Healy, James Walsh, Stephen Maher (0-5), Zane Keenan (0-4), Tommy Fitzgerald, John Brophy (0-1), Willie Hyland (0-4), Brian Dunne. Subs: PJ Scully (0-1) for Brophy, Bill Duggan for Dunne, Ben Conroy for Fitzgerald, Andrew Collier for Healy
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork).