Clare battle back after terrible start

A SPIRITED Clare bounced back from a horror start to win Saturday’s exciting All-Ireland IHC semi-final at Cusack Park, Ennis.

The outcome appeared sealed inside two minutes by which time Brian Murphy and Kevin Keehan had plundered Galway goals. However, Clare kept their cool and were rewarded in the 4th minute when Pádraig Hickey netted for the hosts. After the thundering start the game then settled as both sides reeled off points with Galway maintaining a narrow lead at the break (2-7 to 1-7).

Clare veteran Niall Gilligan narrowed the gap on the restart before Joe O’Leary (‘65) and a Keehan free in the 38th minute had Galway four clear. Remarkably, it was to be their last score as they capitulated to a hungrier home outfit.

Gilligan was in fine form and a haul of 1-4 from play by Hickey secured him the man of the match award.

Clare hit 1-8 without reply with substitute Joe O’Connor netting deep in injury-time.

Clare manager Kevin Kennedy never doubted his side despite the concession of those early goals: “We didn’t panic and we haven’t panicked all year. It was a small bit of a worry but we settled down. The boys (Ronan Keane and Shane Golden) got on top in midfield while ‘Gilly’ came out to centre-forward and we started getting on top.”

Scorers for Clare: N Gilligan (0-8) 4 f’s, 2 ‘65’s, P Hickey (1-4), J O’Connor (1-0), T Carmody (0-2), M Duggan, S Golden, R Keane, K Dilleen (0-1).

Scorers for Galway: K Keehan (1-6) 0-4 f’s, B Murphy (1-2), J O’Leary (0-1) ‘65.

CLARE: A Fahy, M Earley, P Kelly, A Brigdale, K Moynihan, M Hawes, J Fennessy, R Keane, S Golden, M Duggan, T Carmody, K Dilleen, D O’Rourke, N Gilligan, P Hickey.

Subs: J O’Connor for O’Rourke (39).

GALWAY: K O’Grady, A Leech, D McClearn, P Holland, J O’Leary, D Hayes, B Mahoney, K Brady, N Callanan, F Healy, K Kilkenny, E Concannon, C Kavanagh, K Keehan, B Murphy.

Subs: J Cooney for Concannon (22), B Hanley for Kavanagh (27), K Burke for Callanan (33), M Corcoran for Hanley (49), R Gantley for Kilkenny (56).

Referee: T Carroll (Offaly).

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