Daniel Walsh's debut goal sets Clare on course for victory over Laois

The left-half-back scored 1-2 on his senior inter-county debut
Daniel Walsh's debut goal sets Clare on course for victory over Laois

Clare's Daniel Walsh. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

NFL Division 2 South: Clare 1-16 Laois 0-12 

The smile on Colm Collins’ face at the end spoke volumes as his enthusiastic Clare side cantered to a runaway seven-point success over a disappointing Laois side.

On what was a first competitive outing since a disappointing Munster semi-final defeat to Tipperary on November 1 last, the Banner boss’s delight at how his side hit the Division 2 campaign running had him briefly musing about a run at promotion to the top flight of league football for the first time in nearly 30 years.

“To be playing again is just great and I’d dearly love to get promotion to Division 1,” he said, before checking himself and putting such a task in perspective. “We know every team in the division is evenly balanced, so it’s about putting in a big performance and getting something out of the game in Newbridge against Kildare,” he added.

Clare got a big performance here, controlling matters from start to finish as they well and truly avenged last year’s pre-Covid world one-point defeat to the Midlanders at the same venue.

A strong second quarter laid the foundations, with Clare finally making the wind pay when building on an early 0-5 to 0-3 lead to open up a healthy 1-8 to 0-5 interval advantage.

The high-point of that scoring surge was a sweeping 24th minute move that began with keeper Stephen Ryan and ended up with Daniel Walsh blasting to the top corner after being put through by Gavin Cooney.

For Walsh it was a dream senior inter-county debut, with the Kilmurry Ibrickane man also raiding for a brace of points from wing-back. Only Donie Kingston’s four first-half points provided some resistance and while others like Gary Walsh and Colm Begley stepped up with good scores in the second half, they were just token efforts as Clare glided towards victory.

Captain Eoin Cleary brilliantly led the attack throughout as he helped himself to 0-10, while a strong midfield pairing of Cathal O’Connor and Darren O’Neill in front of a dominant defence ensured that Clare were always on the offensive.

Any hopes of a Laois revival were quashed in the third quarter when points from Cleary, Walsh and substitute David Tubridy pushed Clare eight clear. This lead stretched to 10 at one stage as Cleary continued on his scoring way before Laois eventually grabbed a few consolations at the end.

Not that there was much consolation for manager Mike Quirke: “Not sure why we didn’t play,” the Tralee man admitted. “Beforehand everything was going in a direction we were happy with. Our shape, our football was going pretty well; fellas were moving well, but whatever we did today, it didn’t work. All of us will have to have a look at what we did,” he added.

Scorers for Clare: E Cleary (0-10, 4 frees, 1 ’45, 1 sideline); D Walsh (1-2); K Sexton, C O’Connor, D Tubridy (free), P Lillis (0-1 each).

Scorers for Laois: D Kingston (0-5, 2 frees); G Walsh (0-3, 2 frees); C Begley, N Corbett (free), P Kingston, B Byrne (0-1 each).

Clare: S Ryan; C Russell, C Brennan, E Collins; C O’Dea, S Collins, D Walsh; D O’Neill, C O’Connor; D Bohannon, E Cleary, P Lillis; G Cooney, J Malone, K Sexton.

Subs: J McGann for Malone (4), D Tubridy for Sexton (half-time), A Sweeney for E Collins (54), E McMahon for O’Neill (54), A Griffin for Cooney (63), I Ugwueru for O’Dea (66), C Murray for Lillis (66).

Laois: N Corbett; R Pigott, M Timmons, G Dillon; T Collins, C Begley, P O’Sullivan; J O’Loughlin, K Lillis; E Lowry, P Kingston, D O’Reilly; M Barry, D Kingston, E O’Carroll.

Subs: G Walsh for O’Reilly (half-time), B Byrne for Lowry (45), B Daly for Lillis (54), M Keogh for Barry (54), E Buggie for Collins (62), R Munnelly for P Kingston (66), S Bolger for Timmons (66).

Referee: M Flaherty (Galway)

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