COMING into this opening round of the All-Ireland series two questions dominated: How would Clare recover from that heartbreaking Munster Final penalty shootout defeat - and would the lack of a competitive outing hinder Galway?
No doubting that the answers had a huge bearing on the outcome and so it transpired as a fierce fresh Galway outfit put on a clinical display with a sensational tour de force from full forward Aaron Niland.
A blistering start where they raced into a 0-9 to 0-1 lead was certainly impressive but Clare seemed lethargic only ten days after that Munster Final epic. Poor wides, misplaced passes and struggling on restarts all contributing to their downfall.
That being said the form young Niland displayed was simply irresistible, almost unmarkable as the younger brother of senior star Evan landed a magnificent 0-16.
Two scores, in particular, will live long in the memory of the large crowd in Kenny Park in Athenry. In the 12th minute Niland, under the watchful eye of coach Joe Canning, converted a sideline cut from the acutest of angles 30m out on the far right touchline.
However, Niland topped this with a sensational piece of play midway through the second half. Picking up possession with the neatest of first touches 45m from goal, he embarked on a solo run jinking past players with consummate ease before striking off the hurley on the run to applause from the whole stadium.
On this showing, Galway will be extremely hard to stop while Clare must now regroup for what will probably be a winner-take-all showdown with Laois in two weeks' time.
A Niland (0-16, 10 frees), R Burke (0-4), O O'Gorman, C Dolphin, P MacCàrthaigh, C Lawless, C Gilligan (0-1 each).
O Whelan (0-4, 3f) D Stritch, M Collins, J O'Neill, J Organ, S Scanlon (0-1 each).
: D Fahy; L McInerney, S Murphy, D Counihan; B O'Donovan, O O'Gorman, J Lonergan; C Travers, P MacCàrthaigh; O Burke, R Burke, C Lawless; R O'Donnell, A Niland, C Dolphin.
: S Walsh for R Burke (50), J Wallace for Lonergan (53), C Killeen for Trayers (57), C Gilligan for O Burke (58), S Power for O'Donnell (60).
: M Sheedy; E Gunning, F Treacy, J Cahill; S McMahon, J Hegarty, R McNamara; P Ò Sè, M O'Halloran; M Collins, J O'Neill, J Organ; Scanlon, O Whelan, D Stritch.
: C Neylon for Ò Sè (HT), D Keane Hayes for Stritch (43), E Lahiff for Collins (48), F O'Braoin for McNamara (51), F Hayes for Whelan (55).
: R Fitzsimons (Offaly)