Claire 1-11, Armagh 3-11:
Armagh were given a second-half scare by Clare at Cusack Park, Ennis yesterday, but recovered to take both points and keep their unbeaten record in Division 3 of the Allianz football league.
Leading by 10 points at the break, Kieran McGeeney’s side conceded 1-5 without reply inside the first nine minutes of the second period as Clare’s performance improved from their disappointing first-half efforts.
But in the end the home side came up short, with Armagh relying on a late Tony Kernan goal to secure the victory.
The Ulstermen were forced to line out without goalie Niall Geoghan, defender Ciaran McKeever and attackers Jamie Clarke and Andrew Murnin. Yet their replacements didn’t weaken the side in the opening half.
Clare did manage the first two scores of the afternoon through Shane Brennan and Jamie Malone, but once Armagh settled they began to run the show.
A goal by full-forward Ethan Rafferty opened their account and that score was followed by an unanswered 1-5 over the next 12 minutes. Tony Kernan rattled Joe Hayes’ net to leave his side 2-5 to 0-2 in front. The margin was 2-8 to 0-4 at the break and by this stage the game looked over as a contest.
But Clare had different ideas and the hit the ground running after half-time, a spirited fight-back featuring a goal from corner-forward Pat Burke.
Armagh had full-back Michael Murray dismissed in the 50th minute for a second yellow-card offence as Clare continued to rally. But it fell to Kernan to see the visitors home safely with the all-important goal close to the end.
Afterwards, McGeeney admitted he was relieved to have seen off the Clare come-back. “We did well to recover from the beginning of the second half. But that’s not to take away from Clare,” he said.
“They played a good running game. They moved Brennan to midfield, they left one midfielder out and it took us a while to get to grips with that.”
In the Clare camp, team-boss Colm Collins, though disappointed, still had praise for his team. “I was a lot more happy with the display today than the display last week. (Clare lost to Tipperary). I thought we showed spirit and heart and in the second half display we drove at them.
“I’m very proud of how the lads played but we need to tidy up on mistakes we are making. We are conceding silly goals and if we can do that I think we’ll be fine.”
Scorers for ArmaghT Kernan 2-2 (0-2f), E Rafferty 1-1, A Forker 0-2, A Mallon, M McKenna, A Murnin, C Rafferty, E McVerry, S Harlod 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clare: P Burke 1-0, J Malone 0-3, C O’Connor 0-2 (0-1f), G Brennan 0-2f, C McInerney 0-1f, S Collins, S Brennan, S McGrath 0-1 each.
Subs for Armagh:A Murnin for E Rafferty (27, BC), C O’Hanlon for Mallon (43, BC), S Harlod for Carragher (45),
Subs for Clare: K Sexton for Burke (60), C McInerney for Hickey (60), S Haugh for Russell (68, BC), M O’Leary for S Brennan (69, BC).
Referee: M Collins (Cork) M Collins (Cork)
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