Offaly celebrate comeback over Clare

Offaly 2-18 Clare 1-18, O'Connor Park, Tullamore (after extra-time)

Offaly 2-18 Clare 1-18, O'Connor Park, Tullamore (after extra-time)

Offaly staged a dramatic recovery mission in Tullamore as Clare were ruthlessly punished for their failure to close out this All-Ireland SFC first round qualifier in normal time.

Leading by four with only seconds left on the clock, Clare were caught by a trademark Offaly comeback that featured a Ken Casey goal and a Graham Guilfoyle point.

Then, in extra time, Offaly powered clear as the Banner men ran out of energy and ideas, leaving the hosts to finish the afternoon impressively.

The opening period belonged to the excellence of David Tubridy, who provided the moments of class during a dull game that was high on perspiration, but lacking in inspiration.

Turbridy's five first half points separated the teams at the interval as a committed Clare outfit went in at the break 0-6 to 0-1 ahead.

Early on there was a real shortage of excitement and Clare eventually took the lead in the 10th minute when Tubridy converted a free.

Two more Tubridy efforts were sandwiched either side of a Dessie Molohan free as Clare led by four at the end of the first quarter.

Offaly, who kicked eight first half wides, finally got off the mark in the 22nd minute when Brian Geraghty pointed following smart play from Niall McNamee.

But Clare roared back into the contest and Tubridy rifled over a '45' before sending the visitors five points clear on the stroke of half-time.

There was far more bite to the game after the interval as Offaly improved in the third quarter, but Clare were still clipping scores too.

Clare midfielder Gary Brennan signalled their intent when bursting through for a score within 13 seconds of the restart, before Offaly struck for three of the next four points with Niall McNamee, Ken Casey and Ciaran McManus all raising white flags.

Alan Clohessy knocked over a delightful 42nd minute point, but Offaly were battling back and McNamee reduced the deficit before a goal was registered just two minutes later.

Offaly worked the ball deep into Clare territory and substitute David Egan's deflected shot crept over Joe Hayes' despairing dive.

Still, Clare recovered as Tubridy whipped over a free to settle them again, and then Brennan manufactured a 49th minute goal for substitute Kevin Cahill as the Banner side edged five ahead.

Offaly reduced that gap to four late on and Casey's 69th-minute goal, followed by a levelling Guilfoyle point, dramatically forced extra-time for the Faithfuls at 2-10 to 1-13.

Goal scorer Casey even missed a late winner, striking a free wide of the uprights as Clare, who looked the likely winners for long spells, clung on.

Niall McNamee was immense during the opening period of extra-time, kicking three splendid points which helped Offaly eventually get over the line. At the other end, Tubridy, who finished with 0-12, missed a gilt-edged goal-scoring opportunity when hitting the side-netting.

Clare substitute Graham Kelly and Offaly corner back Brian Darby were both sent-off for second yellow cards in the closing minutes of extra-time as Tom Cribbin's men held on, aided by a late, clinching point from the experienced McManus.

OFFALY: A Mulhall; B Darby, S Brady, K Slattery (0-1); P Sullivan, R Brady, N Darby; B Geraghty (0-1), R Dalton; J Reynolds (0-1), B Connor, C McManus (0-3, 0-1f, 0-1 '45'); A Sullivan (0-1), K Casey (1-4, 0-4f), N McNamee (0-5).

Subs used: S Pender for P Sullivan, G Guilfoyle (0-1) for Dalton, D Egan (1-1) for N Darby (all half-time), P McConway for Geraghty (53 mins), S Longeran for Slattery (84), A McNamee for Egan, N Dunne for A Sullivan (both 90).

CLARE: J Hayes; M Tubridy, B Duggan, B Carrig; M McMahon, G Kelly, D Callinan; G Quinlan, G Brennan (0-1); D Daly, P O'Dwyer, A Clohessy (0-1); D Tubridy (0-12, 0-7f, 0-1 '45'), D Russell, D Molohan (0-1, 0-1f).

Subs used: K Cahill (1-1) for Molohan (30 mins), J Hayes for Russell (half-time), L Healy for Carrig (48), G Kelly (0-1) for Daly (60), B Clancy for Callinan, B Toner (0-1) for Clohessy (both 70), C Dunning for Clancy (78), S McNeilis for Duggan (80).

Referee: Martin Higgins (Fermanagh)

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