High-flying Banner quick out of the blocks

CLARE 3-12 LOUTH 1-11: Clare maintained their Allianz Football League Division 2 status, with a merited win over bottom side Louth at Cusack Park Ennis yesterday.

Colm Collins’ side did the business in the opening half, going in 3-7 to 0-6 at the break. After the final whistle Collins expressed his satisfaction with the victory, by saying. “You got your two points. But like every game you play, there are things you wouldn’t be happy with but two points gained and eight overall, so we are safe on our own bat.”

The Banner County got off to a dream start. A quick free, taken by team captain Gary Brennan, found Jamie Malone on the edge of the Louth square, with the Corofin clubman rattling the net from close range after just 11 seconds.

Clare forged ahead. A right-footed effort by midfielder Declan Byrne got Louth off the mark after three minutes, as Clare took full advantage of the wind.

Clare points by impressive midfielder Cathal O’Connor and centre-forward Eoin Cleary were replied to by Ryan Burns and Conor Grimes before Clare added two Cleary frees, to see them clear 1-4 to 0-3 after 17 minutes. Clare bagged their second goal on the half-hour when Keelan Sexton found Craig Lynch’s net, after being set up by Jamie Malone and Cleary.

A third goal arrived as the half entered injury-time, as Kieran Malone goaled after he was picked out on the right by Gary Brennan. Louth did have a golden opportunity before the half-time but a goal-saving block by Clare corner-back Aaron Fitzgerald denied Louth substitute Ross Nally.

Despite the 10-point deficit, Louth returned for the second half with a positive approach. They were rewarded with 1-1 in a two-minute spell. Tommy Durnin waltzed through a sleeping Clare defence before planting his shot past goalie Eamonn Tubridy and then centre-forward Andy McDonnell rifled over the Clare crossbar to leave six between them, 3-7 to 1-7.

But the Wee County men were on a fruitless mission. Though they outscored their opponents 1-5 to 0-5 in the second half, the damage done in the first. Pete McGrath’s charges also kicked a total of 14 wides, six in the first and eight after the interval.

Scorers Clare: E Cleary (0-8) 0-6 fs, K Malone (1-2), J Malone (1-0), K Sexton (1-0), C O’Connor (0-1), C Finnucane (0-1).

Louth: T Durnin (1-1), D Byrne (0-2) A McDonnell (0-2), T McEneaney (0-2) 0-1 f, B Duffy (0-1), R Burns (0-1) f, C Grimes (0-1), R Nally (0-1).

Clare: E Tubridy, C O’Dea, C Brennan, A Fitzgerald, S O’Donoghue, P Lillis, J Malone, G Brennan (Capt.), C O’Connor, K Malone, E Cleary, S Collins, C Finnucane, K Sexton, D Tubridy.

Subs, C Ó’hAinifein for Fitzgerald (H/T), G O’Brien for Finnucane (H/T), C Russell for D Tubridy (44), D Bohannon for G Brennan (56), A Sweeney for Collins (58), E Courtney for Sexton (65).

Louth: C Lyons, F Donohue, E Carlon, J Craven, E Lafferty, B Duffy, A Williams, T Durnin, D Byrne, D Maguire, A McDonnell, G McSorley, R Burns, C Grimes, W Woods.

Subs , R Nally for Burns ((30), J Stewart for Craven (53), C Downey for McSorley (53), T McEneaney for Woods (53), R Holcroft for Maguire (65).

Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary).


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