By Liam Maloney, Markievicz Park
Sligo 1-13, Clare 2-17
An excellent second-half display saw Clare move into the last 12 of the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship following their seven-point defeat of an overpowered Sligo at Markievicz Park today.
The winners outscored Sligo by nine points in the second period, 1-13 to 1-4, having been two points down at half-time, 0-9 to 1-4.
This was the third time the counties met in the Qualifiers – Clare having won their first meeting in 2004 and Sligo having the edge 12 months later in 2005.
Earlier this year Clare defeated Sligo by seven points at Miltown Malbay in the opening round of the Allianz Football League – a campaign that ended up with Clare taking the Division Three title.
Sligo, who didn’t start powerhouse attacker Pat Hughes, instead naming him on the bench, led 0-4 to 0-1 by the 14th minute with two of these points from classy full-forward Niall Murphy.
Clare relied on Eoin Cleary for their opening three points, including a snapped effort from close-range after a David Tubridy free attempt came off the upright.
The visitors were trailing by four points, 0-7 to 0-3, when they received a lifeline with the awarding of a 26th minute penalty after David Tubridy was impeded.
Tubridy tucked home the spot-kick to make it a one-point game, 0-7 to 1-3,but a black card for Podge Collins four minutes later took the gloss off Clare’s revival.
Sligo held a two-point interval lead, 0-9 to 1-4, despite playing the better football during a wind-assisted first-half as Clare had amassed six wides by the half-time whistle.
Clare took the lead for the first time in the 47th minute when David Tubridy pointed from distance and then Clare goalkeeper did his bit with an impressive stop from Brian Egan’s close-range effort.
Midfielder Cathal O’Connor also landed three excellent points from play as Clare moved four points clear, 1-12 to 0-11 by the 54th minute.
Clare midfielder Gary Brennan’s superb goal with nine minutes left put the game out of Sligo’s reach although the home side notched a goal two minutes later from substitute Pat Hughes, who netted from a rebound.
Scorers for Clare: D. Tubridy (1-3, 2f, 1-0 pen); E. Cleary (0-5, 2f); C. O’Connor (0-4); K. Sexton (0-3); G. Brennan (1-0); P. Lillis (0-1); S. McGrath (0-1)
Scorers for Sligo: A. Marren (0-3, 2f); M. Breheny (0-3, 2f); P. Hughes (1-0); N. Murphy (0-3, 1f); Brian Egan (0-1); Kyle Cawley (0-1); A. McIntyre (0-1); C. Henry (0-1)
SLIGO: A. Devaney; D. Maye, K. McDonnell, E. Flanagan; Keelan Cawley, G. O’Kelly-Lynch, Brendan Egan; J. Hynes, A. McIntyre; A. Marren, M. Breheny, N. Ewing; Brian Egan, N. Murphy, Kyle Cawley
Subs for Sligo: P. Hughes for J. Hynes (47); C. Henry for A. Marren (66) (black card); N. Gaughan for G. O’Kelly-Lynch (66)
CLARE: J. Hayes; D. Ryan, K. Harnett, M. McMahon; C O’Dea, G Kelly, S Hickey; G Brennan, C O’Connor; J. Malone, S. Collins, P. Lillis; E. Cleary, D. Tubridy, P. Collins
Subs for Clare: K. Sexton for P. Collins (30) (black card); S. McGrath for D. Tubridy (65); E. Coughlan for P. Lillis (67); P. Burke for J. Malone (66); S. Malone for E. Cleary (68); D. Nagle for S. Collins (70)
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)