Clare 0-18 Galway 1-15
The glass is always half-empty after a draw. Both camps were keen to focus on the positives of this cracking contest at Cusack Park in Ennis but, deep down, the sense of regret was easy to detect.
That was more apparent with Galway. Unlike Clare, they needed something from this encounter to secure a quarter-final spot, but they played more than half the match with an extra man, and just did not make it count.
Clare were short six of their All-Ireland team and were already in the knockout stages whereas Galway, aside from hamstring victim Joe Canning, were more or less at full strength.
Galway’s fear was Clare would mow them down with goals. That threat didn’t exactly disappear either despite wing-forward Shane Golden getting a straight red five minutes before the break, given Clare’s ability to exploit space.
Galway will take heart from their defence. Fergal Moore was superb but, perhaps more importantly, his Turloughmore clubmate Ronan Burke looked solid at full-back and held Shane O’Donnell not just scoreless but without a real shot on goal. Burke’s brother Daithi was also good in a half-back line where Iarla Tannian, despite misgivings about his speed to turn when the ground gets harder, continues to grow into the centre-back role.
It was the third league game in a row in which Clare have failed to get a goal against Galway.
On another day, against different opposition, the Galway attack might have built a winning tally, but they often lacked ambition and execution in going for the kill. The extra game against Limerick will do them the world of good.
Referee Diarmuid Kirwan booked four players in the opening 11 minutes and one of them, Golden, got a straight red for a pull on Tannian.
Tannian was also involved in the game’s decisive moment when penalised for apparently delaying to take a sideline in stoppage time, and Clare won the equalising free from the throw-in.
“To be honest, there was no delay in it and I don’t know why it was a throw in,” said Galway manager Anthony Cunningham. “He said the Galway player delayed. A few decisions were frustrating. I thought we deserved a penalty, we found it hard at times to get frees. We had the winning of it but we would be a shade disappointed.
“Any time you come to Ennis playing the All-Ireland champions and you get a draw, we’d have taken it during the week. It ebbed and flowed and we were very happy with the performance.”
Clare got plenty of frees as Galway did not let them open up. Tony Kelly hit 11 of them between the posts but he also sent four frees and three from play wide, and was probably relieved Colin Ryan was on the field in the dying moments to guide the equaliser home from 65 yards. Davy Fitzgerald was pleased with the way his men responded after Golden was dismissed.
“It is hard when you go down to 14 men, that is killer. The game plan you have goes out the door and you have to change mind-stream, but I thought he was balanced. I would just say to the authorities not to be dishing out so many cards as they are mad to do and let the game flow as much as possible. I thought he did that very well today, he was fair and balanced and we are not going to say a thing about the sending off. If he pulled like Diarmuid (Kirwan) said he saw, then I accept that,” said Fitzgerald.
The sides were level five times in the opening half, with Galway leading by 0-5 to 0-2 with the wind after 15 minutes before three from Kelly and one from David Reidy hauled them in, with a couple of points from Mannion putting the Tribesmen 0-9 to 0-8 in front at the break.
Kelly hit three in five minutes after the restart but Conor Cooney kept Galway in touch and then after Mannion was denied a penalty, Johnny Coen put him through and he shot low to the net to make it 1-11 to 0-12 after 53 minutes. Conor McGrath looked sharp when introduced and hit three good points before Colin Ryan rescued Clare at the end, scoring from play a minute from the end before hitting the equaliser to send the Banner into a quarter-final date with Laois. “They’ll be throwing the kitchen sink at us. Laois were unlucky not to get one or two big results so we know we are in for a game,” said Fitzgerald.
Scorers for Clare: T Kelly 0-12 (11f), C McGrath 0-3, C Ryan 0-2 (1f), D Reidy 0-1.
Scorers for Galway: C Cooney 0-6 (5f), C Mannion 1-2, N Burke 0-3, J Coen 0-1, P Brehony 0-1, D Hayes 0-1, J Glynn 0-1.
Subs for Clare : J Conlon for McInerney (35), C McGrath for Reidy (51), P Donnellan for Bugler (53), C Ryan for Duggan (63), D McInerney for O’Donovan (64).
Subs for Galway: D Hayes for Healy (43), A Smith for David Burke (48), J Cooney for Mannion (60), J Flynn for N Burke (65), P Killeen for Harte (70).
Referee: D Kirwan (Cork).
CLARE: P Kelly; D O’Donovan, C Dillon, J Browne; B Bugler, C Ryan, P Flanagan; P O’Connor, C Galvin; S Golden, T Kelly, P Duggan; C Mcinerney, S O’Donnell, D Reidy. GALWAY: C Callanan; F Moore, R Burke, D Collins; A Harte, I Tannian, Daithi Burke; J Coen, P Brehony; David Burke, C Cooney, N Burke; C Mannion, J Glynn, N Healy.
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