Allianz Hurling League Division 1B – Clare 2-14 Offaly 0-19

Davy Fitz has the last laugh for Banner

Report from the Irish Independent newspaper

Clare 2-14 Offaly 0-19

Allianz NHL Division 1B

CLARE staged a late snatch-and-grab raid to deny Offaly in a thrilling encounter in Tullamore yesterday. Leading by two points, 0-18 to 1-13, inside the last five minutes, Offaly looked set to claim the win that might have secured them a berth in the decider. Clare, however, already assured of their place in the final, were reading from a different script and a Cathal Chaplin goal, after very poor Offaly defending, put them in the lead with two minutes left. A point from Cathal Parlon levelled it up again, but Clare had the last say when Aaron Cunningham’s superb point sealed a win.

It was a fine win by Clare who played most of the game with 14 men after Fergal Lynch received a straight red card for a pull on David Kenny after just eight minutes. The game pitted two of the heroes of Clare hurling — Davy Fitzgerald and Ollie Baker — on opposite sides of the fence, with Fitzgerald in charge of the visitors and Baker manning the sideline for the home side. Even though Clare could afford to lose, they tackled their task with great enthusiasm and were clearly the better side in the first half as they made little of their numerical disadvantage.

Clare were leading by 0-3 to 0-1 when Lynch saw red and they continued to dictate the pace of the game after this. Offaly struggled to find any decent momentum in the first half, but they did hang on grimly in Clare’s slipstream and they were only 0-6 to 0-5 behind after 23 minutes. Then Clare upped the ante and went five clear with points from Liam Markham, Cunningham, Caimin Morey and Patrick Kelly. They would have been further ahead but for some bad wides and Offaly rallied before the break with two Shane Dooley frees sending them in trailing by 0-10 to 0-7.

Offaly gave a vastly improved performance in the second half as they finally turned the screw on Clare. Three Dooley points and one from Derek Morkan had them on level terms, 0-11 each, after 16 minutes of the half and with the wind on their backs and an extra man, the odds very definitely favoured them. A point from substitute Colin Egan edged Offaly in front, but Clare responded with a badly needed point from Colin Ryan.

It was tremendously exciting from here in, with Dooley’s ’65’ putting Offaly back in front before a brilliantly taken goal from substitute Bryan Donnellan, after he raced through the middle and drove a powerful shot to the bottom of the net with 18 minutes left, put Clare in the driving seat. Offaly responded very impressively and points from Dooley (two) and Joe Bergin had them back in front in the 58th minute.

A big turning point arrived 10 minutes from time when Offaly were awarded a penalty after Bergin was unceremoniously dragged down by Donal Tuohy as he powered through on goal. Dooley opted to tap the penalty over the bar, but with Limerick hammering Antrim and Offaly needing to win by a few points, he really should have been going for the net. This left the door open for a grateful Clare and they took full advantage with their late scores.

Man of the Match: J McInerney (Clare)

SCORERS — Clare: C Ryan 0-7 (6f), B Donnellan, C Chaplin 1-0 each, C McInerney, A Cunningham 0-2 each, P Kelly, L Markham, C Morey 0-1 each; Offaly: S Dooley 0-12 (8f, 1p and 1 ’65’), J Bergin 0-3, D Morkan, S Ryan, C Egan, C Parlon 0-1 each.

CLARE — D Tuohy 7; E Glynn 8, P Kelly 7, D O’Donovan 6; E Barrett 6, J McInerney 9, P O’Connor 6; C Galvin 6, L Makham 8; C Morey 6, C Ryan 8, F Lynch 5; C McInerney 7, C Chaplin 6, A Cunningham 8. Subs: S O’Halloran 6 for Morey (h-t), B Donnellan 6 for Galvin (h-t), E Hayes 6 for C McInerney (50).

OFFALY — J Dempsey 7; C McDonald 6, D Kenny 8, D Franks 6; B Harding 6, D Morkan 6, J Rigney 6; D Horan 8, B Murphy (6); J Bergin 8, C Mahon 6, D Mooney 6; S Dooley 9, G Healion 6, S Ryan 7. Subs: E Murphy 6 for Mooney (28), C Egan 7 for Healion (h-t), T Carroll 6 for Ryan (44), C Parlon 6 for Carroll (54).

REF — J Sexton (Cork)