Lilywhite stamina sees off brave Clare

Lilywhite stamina sees off brave Clare

Kildare 0-13 Clare 0-12

By Declan Rooney

Clare came within minutes of stunning Kildare at Cusack Park last night but in the end the Lilywhites' coolness in the final quarter and impressive fitness levels got them over the line.

Clare led by six points in the early stages of the second-half but they went on to concede the last seven points of the game from that point, to finish their campaign with a heart breaking one-point loss.

The home side led by three points at half-time thanks to a couple of points from Shane McGrath just before the interval, but with Alan Smith in fine form at the other end Kildare managed to hold on to their shirt tails despite a poor opening 35 minutes.

Smith ended up with a six-point personal haul, but it was three points from substitute Eoghan O'Flaherty that finally saw Kildare to the win.

Smith had trimmed Clare's lead to two points immediately after the restart, but the Banner men then kicked five in a row to take a convincing lead.

David Tubridy sandwiched Gary Brennan's second score with three points from placed balls in that spell as the shock of the championship looked likely in front of 7,445 supporters in Ennis.

But Kildare finally clicked and after O'Flaherty stopped the rot with a fine point, further scores from Smith, Eamonn Callaghan and Paddy Brophy eventually saw Kildare over the line.

But Clare will be relatively happy with their year's work despite the defeat. Promotion to Division was the number one priority and was archived earlier in Colm Collins' first campaign, while a series of good showings will leave them with a positive feeling ahead of next season.

Kildare now go on to meet one of the losers of the Ulster and Leinster finals – if Meath lose to Dublin, Kildare will definitely play the Ulster runners-up as they have already faced the Royals this year.

Clare: J Hayes; S Hickey, K Hartnett, M McMahon (0-1); J Malone, G Kelly, C Russell; G Brennan (0-2), S McGrath (0-2); S Collins, E Coughlan (0-1), S Brennan; P Collins (0-1), D Tubridy (0-4, 3f, 1'45), R Donnelly (0-1).

Subs: D Ryan for S Collins (56), E Cleary for Donnelly (56), M O'Leary for Coughlan (60), S McNelis for Hickey (65), P McMahon for S Brennan (66), L Healy for Russell (70).

Kildare: M Donnellan; C Fitzpatrick, O Lyons; E Bolton, M O'Grady, F Conway, K Cribbin; T Moolick, G White; C McNally, N Kelly, P O'Neill (0-1); E Callaghan (0-2), P Fogarty, A Smith (0-6, 1f).

Subs: T O'Connor for Fogarty (31), E O'Flaherty (0-3) for White (43), P Brophy (0-1) for Kelly (48), E Doyle for O'Grady (52), S Hurley for Moolick (58), M Conway for (70).

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).

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