Brian Lohan's 14 men edge Davy Fitzgerald in latest Cold War battle

There was no handshake between the managers when this ended.

Brian Lohan's 14 men edge Davy Fitzgerald in latest Cold War battle


Let's start with the sideshow.

There was no handshake between the managers when this ended. Brian Lohan merely pumped both fists when the last whistle blew and made infield. Davy Fitzgerald lingered on the line, relatively emotionless after his side fell three points short.

Not once during this game did their paths come close to crossing.

And so the Cold War seems to go on between these two old comrades-in-arms. Once pillars of the great Clare side of the 90s, their relationship has fractured, irrevocably it seems, but it was Lohan who carried the day in this latest battle.

Clare had to negotiate 52 of the 81 minutes of hurling played with only 14 men after John Conlon was shown a straight red card near the end of the first half. They survived that and a couple of long periods without a contribution to the scoreboard to take the league points on offer.

That's two wins from two now for Lohan and Clare after their opening Division One defeat of Carlow in Ennis last week and, as was the case then, Tony Kelly played an outsized role with a twelve-point haul. He was magnificent.

Wexford took an age to warm to the task as they faced into a strong wind. Clare had six points in the bag after the opening dozen minutes with Jack O'Connor finally opening the home side's account shortly after with the first of the three frees he would claim in that half.

Wexford weren't exactly brilliant in the middle third of this period but they at least kept Clare quiet. The Munster side would go almost 20 minutes without a score and lose Conlon to that card at the back end of that period too.

Conlon walked for a wild and high challenge on Kevin Foley and, while Fitzgerald was quick to issue new instructions, Wexford failed to adapt to having the spare man much as had been the case in their All-Ireland semi-final against Tipperary.

Clare bagged six of the next seven points before the interval to open up an eight-point lead. That was a significant gap for Wexford to bridge even given the elements that would be at their backs on the change of ends.

Wexford had five points shaved from it before there was another 12 minutes played. Jack O'Connor continued to chip away from dead balls and Rory O'Connor lent a hand with two superb efforts from play.

Best of all was a score from distance by goalkeeper Mark Fanning who showed late for a crossfield sideline ball from Jack O'Connor. A thing of beauty on a day when the elements and some of the hurling were ugly enough.

Clare had to endure another drought through all of this, their first score of the second-half coming in the 51st minute via Kelly and it looked as though the Munster side might have rediscovered the path to goal just in the nick of time.

Wexford claimed the next three points but, try as they might, they just couldn't get themselves on equal terms. Hitting double figures for the number of wides with more than ten minutes to go had more than a little to do with that.

Clare were far more economical and Kelly's twelfth point of the afternoon – his second from play – left a goal between them with less than two minutes of normal time to play though another five would be added on.

They held on through that too

Scorers for Wexford: J O'Connor (0-5, 4 frees); R O'Connor, P Foley (frees) and C McDonald (0-2 each); M Fanning, L Og McGovern, A Rochford and P Morris (all 0-1).

Scorers for Clare: T Kelly (0-12, 0-10 frees); D Fitzgerald (0-3); R Taylor (0-2); S O'Donnell (0-1).

Wexford: M Fanning; S Reck, L Ryan, J O'Connor; D Reck, S Murphy, P Foley; K Foley, J O'Connor; L Og McGovern, R O'Connor, C Dunbar; A Rochford, C McDonald, P Morris. Substitutes: A Nolan for McGovern (61); B Keogh for S Reck (64).

Clare: D Tuohy; J Browne, C Cleary, E Quirke; A McCarthy, P O'Connor, S O'Halloran; D McInerney, T Kelly; I Galvin, D Fitzgerald, D Reidy; R Taylor, J Conlon, S O'Donnell. Substitutes: D McMahon for Galvin (46); S Morey for Taylor (55); C Malone for Reidy (60); L Corry for Quirke (69); A Shanagher for O'Donnell (72).

Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny).

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