By Daragh Small
Galway 2-15 Clare 1-17
Galway backed up their Walsh Cup success with a dramatic late win at Pearse Stadium when Jason Flynn hit two late points to snatch victory.
Last year when these sides met in the league a late Colin Ryan free earned Clare a draw on a 0-18 to 1-15 scoreline at Ennis.
The teams were level four times and it looked destined to be heading for a draw at the end, but Flynn kept a cool head to land the winning free in injury time.
Cathal Mannion and John Conlon exchanged goals in the first-half and Galway went in leading 1-9 to 1-8 but Clare took control only for Joseph Cooney to goal and Flynn to provide the final sting in the tail.
Galway manager Anthony Cunningham started five of last year’s U-21s while Clare had to do without two All-Stars in Tony Kelly and David McInerney.
The match was delayed by ten minutes to allow the crowd of about 6,000 get in with Galway winning the toss and playing into the breeze.
Points from Flynn and Jonathan Glynn had them 0-2 to 0-0 ahead with just two minutes gone but NUI Galway Fitzgibbon star Bobby Duggan opened the scoring for Clare moments later.
Galway got the next three points and then wing back Gearoid McInerney put them 0-6 to 0-3 ahead in the 16th minute.
Colin Ryan was once again central for the Clare goal as he sent in a long rangy free and Conlon slapped home past Colm Callanan to drag Clare right back into it.
The game was entering injury time and Colin Ryan extended the Clare advantage but then Mannion bulged the Clare net.
Jonathan Glynn caught a high ball in and hand passed the ball to Mannion who finished to the bottom corner.
The teams went in with Galway leading 1-9 to 1-8 at the break but Clare were rampant at the start of the second-half.
They hit the first four points with Colin Ryan, Shane O’Donnell, Conlon and Brendan Bugler all on target.
Glynn stopped the rot with his second for Galway and a Flynn free brought Galway back within two.
But Conor McGrath’s introduction was much needed for Clare and he hit three points in the next seven minutes.
It was 1-15 to 1-12 in favour of Clare before Joseph Cooney hammered home an equalising goal for the Tribesmen with 12 minutes remaining.
It was all square and the teams went point for point until John Conlon’s point made it 1-17 to 2-13 for Clare.
Time was running out for Galway but up stepped their sharpshooter Flynn to level with a 65 and then snatch the win at the death with a free from 50 metres on the right touchline.
Galway: J Flynn 0-9 (0-7f); C Mannion 1-1; J Cooney 1-0; J Glynn 0-2; J Regan, G McInerney & P Brehony 0-1 each.
Clare: Colin Ryan 0-6 (0-4f); J Conlon 1-2; B Duggan, C McGrath 0-3 each; C Galvin, S O’Donnell & B Bugler 0-1 each.
Galway: C Callanan; J Coen, J Hanbury, R Burke (G Lally 48); G McInerney, D Collins (capt), I Tannian; A Smith, J Cooney; P Brehony (P Killeen 66), J Glynn, D Higgins (A Harte for Higgins 52); J Regan (B Molloy 64), J Flynn, C Mannion.
Clare: P Kelly; D O’Donovan, C Dillon (capt), J Browne; C Cleary (S Morey 65), Conor Ryan, B Bugler; P O’Connor, Colin Ryan (C O’Connell 68); P Donnellan (A Cunningham 53), B Duggan, C Galvin; J Conlon, S O’Donnell, D Reidy (C McGrath 45).
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly).