Clare hurlers cruise into third qualifying round

Clare 1-32 Laois 0-15

Clare hurlers cruise into third qualifying round

Clare 1-32 Laois 0-15

Colin Ryan fired 11 points as Clare comfortably booked a date with Wexford in Phase 3 of the All-Ireland SHC qualifiers, following a 20-point win at Cusack Park, Ennis this afternoon.

Clare bagged their biggest ever tally of points in a Championship match over the 70 minutes, in a game where there was a hint of competitiveness early on, but ultimately Laois were unable to deal with a rampant Banner attack.

The sides were level on two occasions inside the opening three minutes,. but once Peter Duggan fired the first of his four points from play in the fifth minute, Clare wouldn't trail this game.

Laois battled hard with the full-back line in for a torrid afternoon, with Brian Stapleton, Darren Maher and John A Delaney forced to work hard throughout.

Clare led by 0-17 to 0-8 at half-time, with six points from the stick of Ryan.

Laois were held to just two points in the third quarter, with Clare holding a 0-25 to 0-10 lead with 17 minutes left on the clock.

The visitors battled hard, with Clough/Ballacolla duo Stephen Maher and Willie Hyland working away, while substitute PJ Scully also chipped in with some scores, but Clare always looked likely winners, with a goal from substitute Shane O'Donnell 90 seconds from time sealing the issue.

With the football qualifier between the same counties also forming part of a double-header, interest in this game was high, with the throw-in delayed by 15 minutes due to crowd congestion.

Laois manager Seamus Plunkett stuck with the same 15 announced during the week, including James Walsh at midfield, despite the Ballinakill clubman suffering a toe injury on Tuesday.

Clare boss Davy Fitzgerald made one change with Peter Duggan coming in at wing-forward, and Colin Ryan moving to midfield, with Nicky O'Connell the player to lose out.

This game began at lightning pace, with 10 scores produced inside the opening eight minutes.

Brendan Bugler and John Brophy swapped early points, and although Laois took the lead after two and a half minutes through Zane Keenan, the visitors defence would struggle to cope with a pacy Clare outfit.

John Conlon and Duggan (2) fired a trio of points inside a 90-second spell, before Keenan smashed over a point for Laois, after a deflection off the stick of Clare keeper Patrick Kelly.

Maher battled well with corner-forward Padraic Collins, but Clare were unerring in front of the posts, with Colm Galvin, Ryan, David McInerney, Honan and Duggan on target.

Davy Fitzgerald's charges were razor-sharp early on, just registering their first wide after 17 minutes, with a missed effort from McInerney from distance.

Maher made a bursting run as Laois were eager for a score in the 20th minute, cutting through the middle, but his hand-pass went astray as Clare full-back McInerney cleaned up once again.

Clare began to prove inaccurate in front of the posts, shooting four wides between the 22nd and 26th minutes.

Indeed neither side provided a score over a seven-minute spell, as defences got on top.

Maher broke the scoring dead-lock with a 27th minute free, with the sides well balanced before the break sharing eight points equally.

Clare were fired up on the restart, with Honan bagging his third point just 15 seconds after the restart, and although Maher quickly responded, Laois would only added one further point over the next 16 minutes as Clare firmly got on top.

Dominant in the midfield sector, and also scooping up anything Laois threw at them in attack, at the opposite end scores arrived from all angles, with Ryan in superb form from placed balls.

A Willie Hyland point broke Clare from claiming six points in a row, but Clare were relentless thereafter.

Substitute Liam Markham getting in on the scoring action, with Padraic Collins also impressive.

Scores from Maher and Scully kept Laois in touch, but O'Donnell's 68th minute goal was the nail in the coffin for Seamus Plunkett's side, as Clare held out for a comfortable win.

Scorers for Clare: C Ryan (8f, 2 '65) 0-11; P Duggan 0-4; S O'Donnell 1-0; D Honan, C McGrath 0-3 each; P Collins 0-2, D McInerney, C Dillon, B Bugler, P Donnellan, P O'Connor, C Galvin, J Conlon, T Kelly, L Markham 0-1 each.

Scorers for Laois: S Maher (3f) 0-5; Z Keenan (1f) 0-4; W Hyland 0-3; PJ Scully 0-3; J Brophy 0-1.

CLARE: P Kelly; D O'Donovan, D McInerney, C Dillon; B Bugler, P Donnellan, P O'Connor; C Galvin, C Ryan; J Conlon, T Kelly, P Duggan; P Collins, D Honan, C McGrath. Subs: S O'Donnell for Honan (41); A Cunningham for Conlon (53); L Markham for Galvin (55); S Morey for Bugler (58); J Clancy for Ryan (61).

LAOIS: E Reilly; B Stapleton, D Maher, J A Delaney; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan, G Burke; C Healy, J Walsh; S Maher, Z Keenan, T Fitzgerald; J Brophy, W Hyland, B Dunne. Subs: PJ Scully for Brophy (23); C Dunne for Walsh (34); B Duggan for B Dunne (43); B Conroy for Fitzgerald (60); A Collier for Healy (61).

REFEREE: Colm Lyons (Cork)

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