The Mourne men’s chances of causing an upset were effectively snuffed out as early as the 18th minute when wing back Kevin McGarry was sent off for a second yellow card offence by referee Tommy Ryan. To add to the visitors’ woes, a second dismissal, just after half-time, this time a straight red for full-forward Aidan Clarke, compounded their predicament.
It was a complete mismatch and the Clare management will not have learned much for the tie. Indeed Ger ‘Sparrow’ O’Loughlin alluded to this shortly after the final whistle.
“The two sendings-off made a bit of a farce of the game. It’s hard to read into it what we can learn from the game though,” he said.
By half-time the Banner led by 2-8 to 0-1, with goals coming from Caimin Morey and Colin Ryan (penalty). McGarry’s dismissal followed when he was censured for a high challenge on Clare’s John Conlan.
Within minutes of the restart, the Ulster side were down to 13 when a pull by Clarke caught Pat Vaughan on the hand.
There was little to entertain the small crowd thereafter. Clare introduced substitutes and Diarmuid McMahon made his presence felt by scoring a brace of goals. Colin Ryan hit Clare’s other second-half goal when he picked up a loose ball and delivered a low shot to the net.
Scorers for Clare: C Ryan 2-6 (1-0p, 2f), D McMahon 2-0, N O’Connell 0-6f, C Morey 1-1, J Conlon 0-3, F Lynch, C Dillon 0-2 each, J Clancy, S Collins 0-1 each.
Scorers for Down: E Clarke 0-3 (2f), J Coyle 0-2f, C Mageean 0-1.
Clare: D Tuohy; P Vaughan, C Cooney, D O’Donovan; B Bugler, C Chaplin, P O’Connor; N O’Connell, C Dillon; J Conlon, F Lynch, J Clancy; D Honan, C Morey, C Ryan.
Subs: D McMahon for Lynch (41), C McInerney for Honan (46), S Collins for Clancy (52), J McInerney for Cooney (54), M Earley for Vaughan (58).
Down: G Clarke; M Hughes, F Conway, S Ennis; K McGarry, C Woods, M Ennis; A Savage, E Clarke; J Coyle, B Ennis, A O’Prey; S Nicholson, A Clarke, C Mageean.
Subs: D McManus for Nicholson (20), C Coulter for Conway (48), D Toner for O’Prey (53), J Merron for Mageean (56), S Nicholson for Toner (68, inj).
Referee: T Ryan (Tipperary).