Having drawn away to Derry a week earlier, Colm Collins’ charges built the foundation for this victory in the opening half, going in at the half 2-7 to 0-3 in front.
Collins said after the game: “We didn’t put away the chances at times but they will go in eventually, we’ve just got to keep making them”.
He was referring to goal chances especially, as Down keeper Marc Reid pulled off a number of crucial saves throughout the tie.
Reid was alert inside 20 seconds to deny David Tubridy. But two minutes later Keelan Sexton got through for Clare and toe-poked to the net, for the opening score of the tie.
In a one-sided first half, the Banner dominated and grabbed a second goal in injury time through David Tubridy. The full-forward had missed another chance minutes earlier, when he shot over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Reid also made an important interception on 16 minutes, when he denied Eoin Cleary yet another goalscoring opportunity.
Clare were at least raining white flags and tagged on three further points after the break through Cleary (twice) and Jamie Malone, inside five minutes.
Though they managed just one more score from then until the end, there was very little danger of them losing this clash, having done enough in the opening half.
“It was a disappointing result for us,” reflected Down manager Eamonn Burns.
“We had a very strong second half but we just couldn’t get in to get the goal. We gave away a goal at the beginning of the first half and another right at the end, which gave them a very strong cushion going in at half-time. It left us quite a bit to do in the second half.”
D Tubridy (1-3); E Cleary (0-4, 1 free); K Sexton (1-0); J Malone (0-3); S Collins (0-1).
C Magee (0-3, 2 frees); R Johnston (0-2); B O’Hagan (0-2 1 free); D O’Hagan, A Carr, S Millar, P Havern (0-1 each).
Joe Hayes, John Hayes, K Harnett, M McMahon, L Markham, G Kelly, D Ryan, G Brennan (Capt.), C Russell, S Collins, K Sexton, S Brennan E Cleary, D Tubridy, J Malone.
C O’Connor for G Brennan (44), D Nagle for John Hayes (49), C O’Dea for Tubridy (54), P Lillis for Ryan (58), D Egan for Malone (64), G O’Brien for Collins (67).
M Reid, R McAleenan, G McGovern, D O’Hagan (Capt.), C McGovern, N Donnelly, C Mooney, A Carr, J Flynn, J Murphy, C Magee, S Millar, A Davidson, P Havern, B O’Hagen.
D O’Hanlon for C McGovern (h/t), C McGinn for Davidson (h/t), K McKernan for Havern (44), R Johnston for G McGovern (54), J Johnston for B O’Hagan (61), P Turley Flynn (64).
N Mooney (Cavan)