Clare outgun improved Laois

Clare had just too much power and speed for Laois at Portlaoise yesterday, but when one recalls the dreadful championship humiliation suffered by the Moores at the hands of Cork in the same venue last summer, there was plenty to be positive about formanager, Teddy McCarthy.

The Corkman won’t delude himself into thinking his side was ever going to win this, but they remained competitive right to the end and that represents progress.

Clare boss, Davy Fitzgerald was grumbling about the performance of referee, Eamon Hasson but will surely also have concerns about some of the poor options taken by his players who seemed content with being in cruise mode for much of the game.

The excellent Patrick Donnellan and Nickey O’Connell gave them a major foothold around midfield and John Conlon was the target for the vast majority of the resultant possession.

The Clonlara man had a good tussle with Bryan Stapleton but finished with the majority of the plaudits, plundering 1-3 and setting up Sean Collins’ first-half goal.

Laois were not without their standout performers, with former goalkeeper, Paddy Mullaney doing well at right corner-back, Willie Hyland was accurate from placed balls, and Neil Foyle a constant aerial threat.

Laois had a lightening start, Michael McEvoy, John Brophy and Matthew Whelan landing points inside the opening three minutes.

From the time Conlon drew the Laois cover to release the untracked Collins for a fourth minute goal though, Clare began to establish a firm grip on proceedings however.

Donnellan, Colin Ryan and Conlon were all on target but some prodigal shooting was punished when Foyle won the sliotar strongly and beat two defenders before driving a low shot to the Clare net in the 27th minute.

Clare finished with points from centre-back James McInerney, Conlon and Donnellan to lead 1-11 to 1-6 at half time and were never in danger once Conlon goaled almost straight from the resumption.

Hyland rammed home a penalty goal after a prodigious fetch by Foyle in the 62nd minute and it was just reward for the efforts of the home team.

Scorers for Clare: J Conlon 1-3, C Ryan 0-5 (3fs), P Donnellan 0-4, S Collins 1-1, D Keane 0-3, J McInerney, J Clancy 0-2 each, N O’Connell (f), C Morey 0-1.

Scorers for Laois: W Hyland 1-6 (1-0 pen, 3fs), N Foyle 1-1, M Whelan, J Walsh, M McEvoy, C Murray, S Maher, J Brophy 0-1 each.

CLARE: P Kelly; E Glynn, C Dillon, C Cooney; B Bugler, J McInerney, E Barrett; N O’Connell, P Donnellan; C Morey, S Collins, F Lynch; J Conlon, C Ryan, J Clancy.

Subs: D Keane for Lynch (49), L Markham for Morey (53), P Kelly for Barrett (67), E Hayes for Clancy (70).

LAOIS: E Reilly; P Mullaney, D Maher, B Stapleton; C Dunne, J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan; J Walsh, M McEvoy; J Brophy, B Dunne, W Hyland; W Dunphy, N Foyle, S Maher.

Subs: D O’Mahoney for Dunphy (ht), M Meade for Dunne (55), D Peacocky for Brophy (57), C Murray for Foyle (64).

Referee: E Hasson (Derry).

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