Clare 1-11 Galway 2-18
Galway brushed Clare aside in a bruising encounter in Ennis today to set up a mouth-watering third round clash with Cork.
Galway and Cork served up one of the matches of last year’s Championship almost twelve months ago in Thurles, when the Rebels survived the sending-off of goalkeeper Donal Og Cusack to post a memorable 0-23 to 2-15 triumph.
Revenge will be on the Tribesmen’s minds when they go into battle at the same venue next weekend, but for now their manager John McIntyre, in his first season at the helm, will take stock of an impressive dismissal of Clare.
Man-of-the-match John Lee was a defensive rock for Galway and Niall Healy saw them home with a 1-3 second half haul, while Eoin Lynch, Aonghus Callanan and team captain Ollie Canning hardly put a foot wrong.
Clare, looking to bounce back from their Munster Championship exit, put in plenty of huff and puff but their touch let them down early on and the scores never flowed as they did for the visitors.
The Banner men, who played a number of men out of position, collected the game’s first point through Niall Gilligan, the only All-Ireland SHC medal winner on the pitch.
Jonathan Clancy replied to a Joe Canning free and Galway were beginning to open up, moving ahead for the first time as Callanan (0-2), Donnellan and Canning hit over successive points.
With their defence and midfield providing a solid platform, McIntyre’s side moved into a 0-7 to 0-2 lead with further points from Canning and centre-forward Donnellan, who missed out on a goal when Clare goalkeeper Philip Brennan produced a top quality save.
Tony Griffin ended a 19-minute scoreless spell for Clare but Galway continued to turn the screw as Ollie Canning stopped a Carmody penalty on the line and then Donnellan struck a superb goal, after Brendan Bugler had been hooked and Galway broke clear.
Donnellan fired home from a tight angle, swooping on a breaking ball to move his side into a seven-point lead.
Eoin Lynch, who was very effective for Galway in midfield, tagged on a point before Clare’s Pat Vaughan (free) and Carmody closed out the first half’s scoring, making the deficit a little more manageable for the second half at 1-8 to 0-5.
Clare failed to convert a goal-scoring opportunity before the break when Colin Ryan watched his shot be blocked away by Galway stopper Colm Callanan.
It was Galway’s clinical edge from distance and close range that was winning them the game and oddly enough, the usually inspirational Joe Canning was having a quiet outing.
The Portumna youngster did come more into the game in the second half, making it 1-11 to 0-6 to Galway with a pointed free and typically effortless score from play.
Clare continued to miss chances, free-taker Ryan struggled for accuracy at times, but they got back to within six points of Galway thanks to substitute Barry Nugent and Diarmuid McMahon.
Before those points, Clare goalkeeper Philip Brennan produced a brilliant save to deny Niall Healy a certain goal and Ollie Canning was forced off with a facial injury.
In front of Canning, centre-back John Lee was in outstanding form from the first whistle to the last and this solidity at the back helped Galway find an extra gear for the closing stages.
Joe Canning went on a bustling run before he found Donnellan and just as it looked like a goal was on, Banner captain Brian O’Connell came in with a high challenge and got a deserved red card for the foul.
Canning sent the resulting placed ball over the crossbar and he soon took his personal tally to 0-7 as the 14 men of Clare struggled to plug the holes in defence, where O’Connell had been playing for most of the game.
Credit to the Banner men, they never stopped pressing for scores and points from Gilligan, Vaughan and Nugent were followed by an injury-time goal from McMahon.
Galway, who had kept ticking over with points from substitute Joe Gantley and Healy, shipped a number of injuries throughout the second half but they finished the game on a high with a second goal.
Healy was the man to score it, burying the ball past Brennan after a huge ball downfield from Joe Canning.