By Michael O Connor.
Galway in for one more game, Clare out and no complaints from anyone involved. D Day for two managements as the sorrows of Clare continues unabated bar welcome respites at minor and senior level. The biggest concern for Clare support was traffic issues that pertain gaining access in and out of scenic Salthill and it hard a definite effect on the travelling support of Clare in the official attendance of 13.011. Clare had one enforced or some would probable change as Caimin Morey replaced Darach Honan but were dealt a second unwanted blow as team captain Patrick Vaughan suffering from a calf injury was forced to cry off at the brek. Galway rang the changes with five dropping down to the replacements bench as the Galway managements creating a form of siege mentality ordered a press ban which amused many considering promotion of the games is paramount in the current climate.
Word coming from inside circles was that Galway had no fear of Clare and that after the 20th minutes against Tipperary the banner men were a spent force, allied to that Clare would not handle Galway’s physique on the wings and power in the rearguard. Unfortunately once more entering a knockout game all Clare had to motivate themselves was a supposed morale booster against Tipperary when in reality the second half was of challenge game standard.
Clare’s worse fears were realised, namely the constant concession of goals that has plagued the county since their demotion to division two with the first two goals gone by Philip Brennan after ten minutes. Nicky O Connell opened the scoring from a free in the first minute as Joe Canning’s first scoring effort cannoned off the crossbar before Damian Hayes opened Galway’s account. He raced clear of Conor Cooney to blast past Philip Brennan after David Burke hit in a speculative ball. Iarla Tannian hit his first score before Farragher first timed past Brennan after Canning’s initial effort hit the post. With his accuracy now in Canning hit two points in the space of a minute. Conor McGrath and Nicky O Connell responded as Galway were 8 clear after 16 minutes. The Banner men began to score more regularly but always were kept at a distance by Galway defenders who gave no route to goal. The Galway forward line kept moving and left space in front of goal pumping in the ball with one forward designated to run into the space. Each Clare bar with the notable exception of Cian Dillon was left trailing after their men often being fiven the slip as the Galway men ghosted into space. The Clare half forward line were floundering as the midfield were unable to work hard enough and lacked physique. All elements highlighted against Tipperary and once more against Galway
The second quarter was Clare’s most productive period as they scored 8 points as opposed to (1-8) for the home side. The third goal was galling from a Clare perspective as Canning gained possession in the corner, pushed Nicky O Connell away with ease and dangled the ball in front of Donnellan before blasting past Philip Brennan. Conor McGrath who did well with scant possession hit a hat trick as Nicky O Connell (2), Jonathan Clancy, Cathal McInerney and Fergal Lynch added to the half time tally of 12 points that in a normal day woulbd be an acceptable interval tally. Galway however had a immense (3-13) to boast about as Canning (1-3) including a side line cut, Damian Hayes (2), Ger Farragher, David Burke and Andrew Smith effectively destroyed Clare’s chances of making a worthwhile second half spectacle.
Brendan Bugler replaced Pat Vaughan who entered the game with a calf strain that flared up once more. Galway once more went for the killer goals yet surprisingly added only once more in that department but did managed 12 second half points as James McInerney was red carded for a high pull on Joe Canning that might earn the Newmarket man the wrath of the CCCC. Caimin Morey opened the second half scoring. Canning (2), Tannion, Conlon (2) and McGrath were on target by the 43rd minute as Clare were trailing (3-16) to (0-16) but never looking like scoring one goal never mind three.
The longest twenty minutes experienced by a Clare team that was dead and cremated now was underway. Alan Kerins (1-2), Joe Gantley (2), Ger Farragher (2), Joe Canning (2) and James Regan increased the Galway tally as Clare supporters squirmed in their seats with four points in the final third of the game.
When Diarmuid Kirwan blew the long whistle thousands of supporters of both sides had already made the trek out to the cars pointing eastwards as Galway looked forward to round three of the qualifiers as Clare are now firmly entrenched in the second tier of hurling.
Galway were served well by James Skehill, Shane Kavanagh, Tony Regan, David Burke, Joe Canning, Damian Hayes early on, Ger Farragher late on and Fergal Moore.
Clare’s best included Cian Dillon, Nicky O Connell from frees, Caimin Morey, Conor McGrath and John Conlon in the second half.
GALWAY: James Skehill, Fergal Moore, Shane Kavanagh, David Collins, Donal Barry, Tony Regan, Adrian Cullinane, Andrew Smith (0-1), David Burke (0-1), Joe Gantley (0-2), Ger Farragher (1-4), Iarla Tannian (0-2), Damian Hayes (1-3), Joe Canning (1-9), Alan Kerins (1-2). Subs: Cyril Donnellan for Tannion, James Regan (0-1) for Gantley, Kevin Hynes for Cullinane, Barry Daly for Burke, Aidan Harte for Farragher,
CLARE: Philip Brennan, Cian Dillon, Conor Cooney, Patrick O Connor, Patrick Donnellan, James McInerney, Nicky O Connell (0-6), Jonathan Clancy (0-1), John Conlon (0-2), Fergal Lynch (0-1), Diarmuid McMahon, Cathal McInerney (0-1), Caimin Morey (0-3), Conor McGrath (0-5). Brendan Bugler for Vaughan Liam Markham (0-1) for Clancy, Sean Collins for Lynch, Gerry Quinn for Donnellan, Cormac O Donovan for McMahon,
REFEREE: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork).