Clare edge Division 2 clash with Laois

Laois 1-11 Clare 2-12

Laois 1-11 Clare 2-12

Substitutes Alan Markham and Diarmuid McMahon helped Clare edge past a determined Laois side in a titanic Allianz NHL Division 2 tussle in Portlaoise.

The experienced duo were added to Clare's full-forward line in the second half and they helped the Banner men get over the finish line, after Laois had led with just six minutes remaining.

The momentum was certainly with Laois when successive points from Shane Dollard (2) and John Brophy put them 1-10 to 1-9 ahead.

But Markham bulged the midlanders' net soon after and a trio of late points, including efforts from Patrick Donnellan and John Conlon, saw Ger O'Loughlin's charges take the verdict.

In front of less than 500 spectators, Laois opened well and their team captain Brian Campion, playing at centre-back, sent over a couple of impressive long-range points.

Willie Hyland also got off the mark from a sideline cut, before Clare free-taker Mark Flaherty brought the sides level at 0-3 apiece.

Conlon edged Clare ahead before the visitors broke through for a 25th minute. A defensive error by Conor Dunne allowed Colin Ryan enough time and space to solo through on goalkeeper Patrick Carroll and grab the game's opening goal.

Ryan added a quick-fire point, but Laois were only 1-5 to 0-6 behind at the turnaround - thanks to closing efforts from Hyland (2) and John Rowney.

Laois' Colin Delaney was denied a goal-scoring opportunity on the restart, when Clare's Cian Dillon hooked him and two points from substitute Nick O'Connell increased Clare's lead to four.

But Laois were right back in the hunt when full-forward Brophy was fouled for a penalty that Hyland drilled low and hard to the Clare net.

Hyland swapped points with Jonathan Clancy as the tempo increased and Laois stopper Carroll pulled off a very good save when McMahon got a sight of goal.

McMahon and Laois substitute Dollard added scores, but with McMahon and Markham joining Colin Ryan in Clare's top line, they created enough havoc to get the match-winning scores and dash Laois' hopes of a famous opening victory.

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