Clare 1-16 Dublin 0-16
By Michael O Connor.
“Necessity is the mother of all inventions”. With that one could say that Clare had little choice but to scrap the team that played in the league and the championship opener. Injuries, bad form and obvious failings has led to a team that might not be real championship contenders but have finally won a game of note, and coupled with the infusion of fearless youngsters have given optimism for the remainder of 2012 and the seasons ahead.
In a free ridden first half in which referee Diarmuid Kirwan did not punish either side for obvious off the ball and on the ball infringements the free stat should have been a lot worse. A hard hitting throw in witnessed Nicky O Connell and Liam Rushe engaging with each other on the wing saw John Conlon winning and scoring the opening point two minutes before Tony Kelly hit his first ever senior point to send Clare two clear. In fact the Ballyea youngster was one of the banner sides better performers in the first 15 minutes. A Conor McGrath free had Clare smiling and three clear as they got the start they craved for but it was soon forgotten about. With the Dublin and Clare managers displaying contrasting emotions on the line Dublin soon had Anthony Daly smiling. Five converted frees in 10 minutes from Paul Ryan left the Leinster men two clear after 16 minutes.
The much heralded handpassing game was failing once again as Dublin were bottling up Clare in what was quite an average first half as the Clonlara duo Honan and Conlon levelled matters before Paul Ryan and Danny Sutcliffe with a score each restored Dublin’s two point lead after Brendan Bugler lost possession. Pat Donnellan was in great form at centre back in the first half whilst Brendan Bugler was to the fore in the second half as Clare went for the long ball and traditional style when Nicky O Connell was sent off for a second yellow card. Paul Ryan and Maurice O Brien continued Dublin’s best period of the game as Clare were making small mistakes at wrong times from their perspective.
Clare had to wait a full 11 minutes before hitting the scoreboard as Conor McGrath was successful with a free only for former Limerick hurler Maurice O Brien hit his second of the day with five minutes left in the opening half. Dublin had two real goalscoring chances in the first half but missed both and this mortally damaged their chances as in one case Pat Donnellan intercepted David Treacy on route to goal. The last two scores of the half went to Paul Ryan and Seadna Morey to leave four points separating the sides, (0-11) to (0-7) with all to play for in the second half.
The attendance of 9827 expected a strong fightback in the second half by a Clare team that had rebuilt itself found itself a further two points in arrears three minutes into the second half before the start of the banner fightback. John Conlon who was the strong man on which Clare fought for every ball past half way in the second half started the Clare scoring with Tony Kelly, Sean Collins, Conor McGrath, Darach Honan and the equaliser from McGrath in the 51st minute as Dublin were reeling on the ropes. Alan McCrabbe who was introduced as part of a number of Dublin replacements gave Dublin the lead once more before a high ball was sent in on top of Darach Honan who was fouled.
The following piece of action was the seminal point of the game in which Tony Kelly under instruction or otherwise from the line successfully went for goal as the rafters in Cusack Park were lifted to a level not witnesses since the Munster under 21 final of 2008. Sean Collins with a massive score from inside his own half left a goal between the sides. Such was the tension between the sides and the closeness of exchanges there was only four more scores in the last 15 minutes. Simon Lambert and Conor McGrath exchanged scores as Niall Corcoran all the way from corner back with a well taken score left Clare two clear entering the last seven minutes. Despite late forays by Dublin that never really threatened Clare it was the home side that had the final say with a narrow angled point by hero John Conlon who as his nickname of “The Postman” goes he always delivers to send Clare into round 3 of the qualifiers.
Scorers -- Clare: C McGrath 0-5 (4f), T Kelly 1-2, J Conlon 0-4, D Honan, S Collins 0-2, S Morey 0-1. Dublin: P Ryan 0-9 (7f, 2 '65s'), M O'Brien 0-2,
D Sutcliffe, D Treacy, A McCrabe (f), S Lambert, N Corcoran 0-1.
Clare: P Kelly; D O'Donovan, C Dillon, C Cooney; B Bugler, P Donnellan, N O'Connell; S Collins, S Morey; F Lynch, J Conlon, J Clancy; T Kelly, D
Honan, C McGrath. Subs: P O'Connor for Cooney (22); C Galvin for Clancy (42); C Ryan for Honan (63); A Cunningham for Lynch(65).
Dublin: G Maguire; R Treanor, P Kelly, N Corcoran; J Boland, T Brady, M Carton; J McCaffrey, M O'Brien; L Rushe, A McCrabbe, D Sutcliffe; D Treacy,
R O'Dwyer, P Ryan. Subs: D O'Callaghan for O'Dwyer (42); S Durkin for McCaffrey (48); N McMorrow for Ryan (49); S Lambert for O'Brien (52); R
O'Carroll for Treacy (56).
Referee: D Kirwan (Cork).