Clare hold firm against late Wexford comeback to reach All-Ireland semi-final

Pic: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Clare 0-27 - 1-17 Wexford

Clare weathered a late Wexford comeback to advance to a first All-Ireland semi-final since 2013.

Having fallen at the quarter-final hurdle in 2016 and 2017, Clare held firm in the face of a late Wexford rally to book a first Croke appearance since that All-Ireland winning season five years ago.

Having coasted along for most of the second-half, Clare were pulled into a contest when Conor McDonald fielded a long delivery, side-stepped his man and drilled a low shot into Donal Tuohy’s goal on 58 minutes.

That left the scoreline reading 0-22 to 1-14 in Clare’s favour, but Wexford hit three of the next four scores to make it three-point contest.

By this stage, though, Wexford had blown their chance of gaining parity, Rory O’Connor, Jack O’Connor and Conor McDonald striking consecutive wides.

There was also a double-goal chance which Donal Tuohy and Jack Browne kept out.

Clare resumed control thereafter, Shane O’Donnell, Ian Galvin, John Conlon and Conor McGrath seeing the Banner home with seven to spare.

Wexford wound up with 14 men as Rory O’Connor was sent off on a straight red card for an off-the-ball challenge on Rory Hayes.

It was fairly ominous for Wexford at half-time, Davy Fitzgerald’s charges trailing 0-16 to 0-9.

Five Clare forwards found the target from open play during the opening 35 minutes, whereas only Conor McDonald managed to do so for Wexford.

And with McDonald’s first of three opening half points not arriving until the 18th minute, it showed how much Wexford struggled in the opposition half of the field early on.

Fitzgerald’s side were largely reliant on young Rory O’Connor to tally the bulk of their scores, the St Martin’s man converting five first-half frees.

Wexford’s Lee Chin dejected at the end of the game. Pic: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Lee Chin, the other standout name in the Wexford attack, was non-existent in the first period, the poor nature of the clearances out of the Wexford defence and the numerous rucks which developed across the Wexford half-forward line not helping boost his influence on proceedings.

What also hamstrung the Model County was Mark Fanning misfiring with his restarts, four puckouts didn’t find their intended target and resulted in Clare points.

Tony Kelly was the chief Banner marksman in the first-half, notching four from play. O’Donnell and, in particular, Reidy were also lively.

The beaten Munster finalists were 0-9 to 0-4 clear by the 25th minute, stretching that out to 0-15 to 0-8 as we entered first-half stoppages.

Three points was as close as Wexford would come of their opponents in a second-half which was far more entertaining than a drab opening 35 minutes.

Scorers for Clare: P Duggan (0-9, 0-7 frees); T Kelly (0-5); S O’Donnell (0-4); J Conlon (0-3); D Reidy (0-2); P Collins, S Morey, C McGrath, C Malone (0-1 each).

Scorers for Wexford: R O’Connor (0-10, 0-9 frees); C McDonald (1-3); L Chin, D Reck, D O’Keeffe, S Murphy,

Clare: D Tuohy; J Browne, D McInerney, P O’Connor; J Shanahan, C Cleary, S Morey; C Galvin, C Malone; P Duggan, T Kelly, D Reidy; P Collins, J Conlon, S O’Donnell.

Subs: D Fitzgerald for Galvin (57); I Galvin for Reidy (59); C McGrath for Duggan (67); M O’Malley for Malone (72); R Hayes for Browne (73)

Wexford: M Fanning; D Reck, L Ryan, C Firman; D O’Keeffe, P Foley, M O’Hanlon; K Foley, S Murphy; D Dunne, L Chin, C McDonald; L Óg McGovern, A Nolan, R O’Connor.

Subs: J O’Connor for Nolan (49); H Kehoe for Foley (57); S Donohoe for Foley (61); W Devereux for O’Keeffe (66).

Referee: F Horgan (Tipperary).

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