Galway 4-25 Clare 0-20
Galway struck form at last with an emphatic All-Ireland SHC Qualifier win over Clare at Pearse Stadium this evening.
The Tribesmen thrilled a crowd of 13,011 at the Salthill venue with some scintillating attacking hurling and brilliant scores, including a 1-9 tally from Joe Canning.
Three first-half goals laid the foundations for a handsome 17 point-win for John McIntyre’s side, and the Banner men lost all hope they had of retrieving the situation when they had James McInerney sent off early in the second half.
Clare made a bright start with a Nicky O’Connell point, but a Galway blitz soon had them on the back foot, and inside 12 minuets, they found themselves trailing by nine.
Damien Hayes drifted in behind Conor Cooney to collect David Burke’s delivery and blast to the net.
Four minutes later, Ger Farragher finished from close range after Iarla Tannion’s effort had come back off a post.
Canning, Hayes and Tannion were all on target with stylish points, and Galway led by 2-4 to 0-1.
Clare regrouped, and Fergal Lynch, Conor McGrath, Nicky O’Connell and Caimin Morey all scored points as they got their challenge going.
But Galway grabbed a third goal in the 13th minute, a brilliant solo effort from Canning, who beat three defenders before firing an angled shot past Philip Brennan.
They could have had a fourth goal, but Brennan pulled off a superb save from Joe Gantley.
Canning brought his tally to 1-5 from the resultant ’65, and the Connacht men led by 3-13 to 0-12 at the interval.
Clare’s task became all the more difficult when wing back James McInerney received a straight red card for a high challenge on Canning four minutes into the second half.
They did respond with a couple of points from John Conlon and McGrath, who claimed his fifth, but Galway used the extra space to craft the openings which Canning, Alan Kerins, Gantley and Tannion turned into scores.
Galway’s fourth goal came in the 54th minute, delightfully created by Farragher and clinically finished by Kerins.
Ger Farragher swung over a couple of points, and with 4-20 of their total coming from play, this was an attacking display of genuine quality.
Clare did have scoring chances, and Galway have defensive issues to address as their campaign progresses, but they sent out a message that they must be regarded as All-Ireland contenders.
Galway: J Skehill, F Moore, S Kavanagh, D Collins, D Barry, T Og Regan, A Cullinane, D Burke (0-1), A Smith (0-1), J Gantley (0-2), G Farragher (1-4), I Tannian (0-1), D Hayes (2-4), J Canning (1-9, 3f, 1 ’65, 1 s/l), A Kerins (1-2).
Subs: B Daly for Burke, J Regan (0-1) for Gantley, A Harte for Farragher, K Hynes for Cullinane
Clare: P Brennan, P Vaughan, C Dillon, C Cooney, P O'Connor, P Donnellan, J McInerney, J Clancy (0-1), N O'Connell (0-6, 5f, 1 ’65), J Conlon (0-2), F Lynch (0-1), D McMahon, C McInerney (0-1), C Morey (0-3), C McGrath (0-5, 3f).
Subs: B Bugler for Vaughan, L Markham (0-1) for Clancy, S Collins for Lynch, C O’Donovan for McMahon, G Quinn for Donnellan.
Referee: D Kirwan (Cork).