Antrim fail to take the spoils in Clare

Antrim fail to take the spoils in Clare

Clare 0-20 Antrim 0-12

Clare had enough firepower to see off Antrim’s challenge in this lacklustre Division 1B encounter in Ennis.

Although corner back Domhnall O’Donovan was dismissed in the second half for a striking offence, the Banner men kept on course for their second league win.

Shane McNaughton and Neil McManus landed some very good points to leave Antrim just 0-8 to 0-7 behind at the break.

But two dominant spells after that saw Clare stretch ahead with Nicky O’Connell and Conor McGrath (0-6 each) both prominent.

Substitute Barry McFall was the only Antrim player to score from play in the second period as they let their efforts slip, and McNaughton, despite his influence from frees, missed a couple of noteworthy goal chances.

McNaughton (0-5) and McManus (0-4) led the scoring for the Saffrons, who also had a point apiece from Karl Stewart, PJ O'Connell and substitute Barry McFall.

Today’s success at Cusack Park leaves Davy Fitzgerald’s Clare side out in front at the top of the table after two opening wins.

Scorers - Clare: N O'Connell, C McGrath 0-6 each, C Ryan 0-3, C Morey 0-2, J Conlon, D Keane, C McInerney 0-1 each

Antrim: S McNaughton 0-5, N McManus 0-4, K Stewart, PJ O'Connell, B McFall 0-1 each

CLARE: P Kelly; D O'Donovan, C Dillon, C Cooney; B Bugler, P O'Connor, E Barrett; N O'Connell, P Donnellan; J Conlon, D Keane, F Lynch; C McGrath, C Ryan, C McInerney.

Subs used: C Morey for McInerney, J Clancy for Lynch, L Markham for N O'Connell.

ANTRIM: C O'Connell; A Griffin, C Donnelly, K McGourty; KB McShane, N McAuley, S McCrory; N McManus, M Gettens; K Stewart, M Herron, C McFall; S McNaughton, C McCann, PJ O'Connell.

Subs used: K Sheeran for McCann, B McFall for McGettens, D Hamill for PJ O'Connell. D Lynch for C McFall.

Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly).

Daire Keane, who came into the starting line-up along with Enda Barrett, was an early point scorer for Clare as was Nicky O'Connell. Antrim opened their account in the eighth minute through PJ O'Connell and McNaughton brought them level from a tenth minute free.

By the end of the opening quarter, it was still level-pegging at 0-4 apiece with scores shared out between Nicky O'Connell, McManus (0-2) and John Conlon.

McManus was standing out at midfield for Jerry Wallace's men but their shooting let them down on a number of occasions, with both McManus and McNaughton dropping frees short of the posts.

Colin Ryan and Cathal McInerney scored at the opposite end to nudge Clare back in front and they kept ahead thanks to further points from McGrath and O'Connell. McManus and Karl Stewart, meanwhile, took Antrim's tally to 0-7.

Fitzgerald's charges added five points in the opening minutes of the second half, with Nicky O'Connell firing over the first and Ryan and McGrath both tagging on a brace.

Antrim goalkeeper Chris O'Connell had done well before the break to deny both McInerney and Keane, and McInerney had another goal-bound shot smothered away to safety as Clare pressed for an elusive goal.

With 45 minutes on the clock, corner forward McNaughton finally replied for the Glensmen from 60 metres out and he added two more scores over the next five minutes, with O'Connell replying for the home side.

Antrim were still in the hunt when McNaughton sent over another free with 12 minutes remaining, replying to a McGrath effort. By that stage, Clare had been reduced to 14 players following O'Donovan's dismissal on a straight red card.

But Clare, with substitute Caimin Morey landing two points, upped the tempo again in the closing ten minutes - although they did move their wides total in double figures (11).

Top scorers McGrath and O'Connell finished out the scoring to confirm an eight-point win for the Banner men with Antrim losing McManus to a second yellow card late on.

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