McInerney and O’Donnell star as Clare coast to victory

Clare maintained their unbeaten National League run with an impressive nine-point win over Dublin that secured them top spot in Division 1B and with it, a place in the semi-final of the competition they last won in 2016.

McInerney and O’Donnell star as Clare coast to victory

Clare 0-27 Dublin 1-15

Clare, in Brian Lohan’s debut season as manager, rounded off their Division 1B campaign in hugely impressive style with a polished display at Cusack Park, Ennis.

This nine-point success before an attendance of 3,360 was as dominant as Clare have been in their five games to date, as they maintained their unbeaten run with the minimum of fuss.

“You want to try and win as many games as possible,” said a delighted Lohan, after his side cruised to victory in the second half when racking up an impressive 0-16.

“There aren’t too many games in the whole calendar year,” he continued. “We played our first five games and that could have been it, but we’re in a semi-final now and we’ll drive on.”

They were in the driving seat here for all but a 10-minute spell before half-time during which time they conceded 1-3 without reply to see a 0-11 to 0-5 lead evaporate as a resurgent Dublin got back on terms.

However, in the overall scheme of things it was just a blip as the normal service of the first half — illuminated by Tony Kelly’s unerring accuracy from frees and fine efforts from play by David McInerney, Domhnall McMahon and the sublime Shane O’Donnell — came back with a vengeance on the turnover.

Dublin had been firefighting largely on the back of Donal Burke’s 0-6 haul and the 34th minute goal he set up for Eamonn Dillon that brought the sides level at the break (0-11 to 1-8), but were subsequently blitzed by a rampant Clare outfit.

That the half-time whistle came at the right time for the hosts told in the way they raised their game immediately after the resumption, hitting seven out of the first eight points to effectively kill the contest within 12 minutes of the third quarter.

Tony Kelly sent the home side on their way inside a minute en route to hitting 0-12 for the third time in five league outings to pass the 0-50 mark for the season, but fellow midfielder David McInerney and inside-forward Shane O’Donnell were the standouts as Clare powered home.

Burke continued to plough a lone battle for Dublin in the second half as he bought his tally to double figures, but for Clare it was target practice long before the end as they booked a first semi-final berth since 2016, when they also won the title for the fourth time.

David Reidy and John Conlon from the starting 15, as well as substitutes Aron Shanagher and Gary Cooney, also found the range before the end to ensure that nine different players put a mark on the scorecard from play.

“I am very happy with the response of the players, right from the very first day we got together,” said Lohan. “The team is working well and training hard.

“We have a two-week break now. There are a number of guys who have had a lot of game time so we’ll give them a break on Tuesday night,” he added.

“The league finished for us today and we realise we have work to do going forward,” reflected Dublin boss Mattie Kenny. “We’re looking forward to pushing on so that come May we will be fresher and get the benefit of all the guys who got game-time in the league.”

Scorers for Clare: T Kelly (0-12, 10f, 1 ‘65), D McInerney (0-4), S O’Donnell (0-3), D McMahon (0-2), D Reidy (0-2), A Shanagher (0-1), J Conlon (0-1), G Cooney (0-1), D Ryan (0-1).

Clare for Dublin: D Burke (0-10, 6f), E Dillon (1-0), P Crummey (0-3), D Gray (0-1), R Hayes (0-1).

CLARE: E Quilligan; J Browne, C Cleary, L Corry; C Malone, P O’Connor, P Fitzpatrick; D McInerney, T Kelly; D Ryan, D Reidy, D McMahon; R Taylor, J Conlon, S O Donnell.

Subs A Shanagher for Ryan (43), G Cooney for Shanagher (56-57) B/S, G Cooney for Taylor (58), K Hehir for McMahon (63), P Collins for O’Donnell (65), R Hayes for Fitzpatrick (68).

DUBLIN: A Nolan; P Smyth, E O’Donnell, A Dunphy; J Malone, P Crummy, D Gray, S Moran, R McBride; D Sutcliffe, D Burke, F McGibb; M Schutte, D Keogh, R Hayes.

Subs E Dillon for Moran (25), A O’Neill for Dunphy (50-59) B/S, P Ryan for Sutcliffe (54), A O’Neill for McGibb (59), J Hetherton for Schutte (60), L Rushe for McBride (65).

REFEREE: David Hughes (Carlow)

- Updated at 7pm.

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