GAA Hurling All-Ireland Qualifiers Phase 2 – Clare 1-16 Dublin 0-16

Daly stunned as Davy marches on

Report from the Irish Independent newspaper

Clare 1-16 Dublin 0-16

SHC Phase 2 qualifier

Anthony Daly never knew there’d be days like this. Standing on the sideline in Cusack Park in Ennis has to be one of the strangest feelings he’ll ever have in a long and storied hurling career. Strange to watch his team’s six-point lead being eaten away by a driven, young Clare team that he knows is going to leave his county in a much stronger place over the next few years, as locals, many of them his friends, bellowed their frenzied approval. When he met with Dublin officials in late 2008 to discuss the position, this was one scenario he hadn’t bargained on. It was one thing to meet Clare in Croke Park or in a Parnell Park league match. But in Ennis? On a night like this?

In his post-match analysis with the print media that lasted a little over three minutes, much of it was devoted towards an appraisal of Clare. Maybe it was just the questions directed at him, maybe there was just no point in raking over the coals of another desperately disappointing performance in a desperately disappointing season. The challenge was to avoid the notion that Dublin had punched above their weight in 2011, that a league title and an All-Ireland semi-final appearance wasn’t really their place. Sadly for them, this notion will linger for a while yet after the last two weeks they’ve had. The pressure of expectancy looks like it has burdened them, and when leaders were required in such a cauldron there were just too few.

As much as this was an awakening for Clare hurling, it was a collapse by Dublin. No other words for it. They were six points up, a man up after Nicky O’Connell’s red card early in the second half. And yet they lost by three. So Daly is left to pick the bones of a season that promised so much but delivered so little. “To be relegated, to be beaten in Leinster and to lose a first-round qualifier is a very disappointing season. Maybe the hype of last year got to us a bit. I didn’t think that. I couldn’t have asked for any more of them in terms of effort and training. They couldn’t have given any more,” he reflected.

Clare selector Louis Mulqueen noted how the Banner had lost their previous nine championship games. Not since the 2008 Munster final had they felt that inner glow of satisfaction. How, then, could they claim tangible progress if they couldn’t manage a win. If it was Dublin, if it was Daly, it didn’t matter. “We wanted the pressure,” acknowledged manager Davy Fitzgerald. “We said after the Waterford game, ‘give us a tough draw’ because we have to find out what we’re about. I think we showed tonight we have character.”

Fitzgerald’s youth policy is reflected in the profile of the squad, an average age of just 22 years and just three over the age of 27. He gave debuts to two of last year’s minor team, Seadna Morey and Tony Kelly, and they repaid the faith handsomely. Kelly’s goal from a 20-metre free in the 53rd minute gave Clare a 1-13 to 0-14 lead that they were never likely to lose. In the closing 17 minutes or so, every Clare player drew energy from the stands and terraces as they made light of the departure to a second yellow card of O’Connell. It was, as Daly suggested afterwards, one of those nights.

That Kelly could be delegated to go for goal in his first championship match was one thing, that he should complete the task with such ruthless efficiency was something else altogether. “The minute we got it, we were going for it. We were going for the jugular tonight. That was the way it was. It didn’t enter my head for a second. It was a fair thing for a young fella in his first championship match to stand up and hit it,” acknowledged Fitzgerald. The young Ballyea man finished with 1-2 as he operated a free role away from the full-forward line manned by Darach Honan and Conor McGrath. But if youth flourished, big-game temperament and hardened experience also played a part.

Brendan Bugler is one of the older hands, but in the second-half he was immense in winning and clearing ball across his half-back line, while John Conlon’s nerve and strength in possession is something any Clare team manager was always going to build an attack around. Conlon’s last point said everything about him as he held up possession and waited for his moment to strike from near the sideline. “A lot of these guys got a lot of stick. It’s unjust. You saw when it really got rough and tough outside there. Some boys stood up that were getting a bit of stick there for a while. But this is still a learning process,” he figured. As Daly said, Dublin had put themselves in a very strong position. Joey Boland and Tomas Brady had dominated aerially in the first half and Paul Ryan had done most of what was asked of him from placed balls.

By the time he was withdrawn, just shy of the 50-minute mark, he had converted nine. If their touch was right they might have been out of sight by the break. Instead, they led by 0-11 to 0-7, two of those points gifted to them when Pat Donnellan and Bugler had short passes intercepted. It was part of a clear strategy but the crowd didn’t see it that way. They were frustrated. After O’Connell’s dismissal, David Treacy made it 0-13 to 0-7, but Clare roared back with six unanswered points in the next 12 minutes.

It was the defining period. The force was with them and their tactics of dropping greater numbers back at that stage and hitting Dublin on the break worked perfectly. “We were going to be okay anyway,” said Fitzgerald, making light of the impact the sending off could have had. “This team was going to stay fighting until the end no matter what.” Daly threw on all five substitutes in a 13-minute period midway through the second half, but it was akin to clearing the bottom deck of the Titanic with a bucket. Nothing stuck on the inside line, and while Ryan O’Dwyer hadn’t been motoring well he was the type of player that might have brought a harder edge when Dublin needed to win ball in the final third of the field down the home stretch. Daly refused to be drawn on his future plans with Dublin, suggesting there was plenty of time. Parking his Dublin career in Ennis after this will hardly be how he’ll want it to be remembered.

Scorers — Clare: C McGrath 0-5 (4f), T Kelly 1-2 (1-0f), J Conlon 0-4, D Honan, S Collins 0-2 each, S Morey 0-1. Dublin: P Ryan 0-9 (8f, 1 ’65’), M O’Brien 0-2, N Corcoran, D Sutcliffe, A McCrabbe (1f), D Sutcliffe, D Treacy 0-1 each.

Clare — P Kelly 7; D O’Donovan 7, C Dillon 7, C Cooney 5; B Bugler 9, P Donnellan 7, N O’Connell 5; S Morey 7, S Collins 8; F Lynch 6, J Conlon 9, J Clancy 5; T Kelly 8, D Honan 7, C McGrath 7. Subs: P O’Connor 6 for Cooney (22), C Galvin 5 for Clancy (42), C Ryan for Honan (64), A Cunningham for Lynch (65).

Dublin — G Maguire 7; R Treanor 6, P Kelly 7, N Corcoran7; J Boland 8, T Brady 7, M Carton 6; J McCaffrey 5, M O’Brien 7; L Rushe 6, A McCrabbe 7, D Sutcliffe 7; P Ryan 7, R O’Dwyer 6, D Treacy 6. Subs: D O’Callaghan 5 for O’Dwyer (44), S Durkin 6 for McCaffrey (48), N McMorrow 5 for Ryan (49), S Lambert 6 for O’Brien (51), R O’Carroll 5 for Treacy (56).

Ref — D Kirwan (Cork)


Banner buzzing after blast from past

Clare 1-16 Dublin 0-16

By Diarmuid O’Flynn for the Irish Examiner newspaper

When wing-back Nicky O’Connell picked up his second yellow card in just the 37th minute of this hurling qualifier in Ennis on Saturday evening it should have signalled the end for Clare. Already trailing by 0-11 to 0-7, Paul Ryan pointed the resultant free and a minute later David Treacy added another Dublin point, leaving the home side trailing by six, reduced to 14 men, facing a seemingly impossible situation. So what the hell happened? A whole number of things, and not one of those in favour of Dublin. First, the man disadvantage very quickly disappeared. No, Dublin didn’t have a man sent off, the Clare supporters in the announced crowd of (9,827 but sounded like twice that!) found their voice. The echoes of the old Clare roar began to ring around Cusack Park and they found their 15th man.

Then there was the Clare sideline. Davy Fitzgerald and his selectors had already made several very gutsy calls in their team selection with championship debuts for last year’s minor stars Seadna Morey and Tony Kelly. Now they went one better and dropped back an extra defender to leave themselves short not one attacker but two. However, they knew their men and in Darach Honan and John Conlon especially they had two guys who were worth four. As the game entered its critical phase they also threw two other youngsters into the cauldron, Colm Galvin and Aaron Cunningham and both thrived. “We have lads there from 18 to 21,” said selector Louis Mulqueen. “That’s the way we have to go in Clare, build on these lads.”

Finally, but by far most important of all, the players themselves. This county produced storied teams and storied hurlers of the past but if this group stay on this path, a path plotted by Davy Fitzgerald and his professional management team, trust in what they’re being told and in their own ability, they will create their own bit of history. This wasn’t hurling the Kilkenny way, no man an island and every ball a battle. This wasn’t hurling the old Cork way, making intelligent use of possession. This wasn’t hurling the even older Tipperary way, hip-to-hip with no quarter given or asked. This was hurling the way hurling has always been waiting to be played: no man an island and every ball a battle and making intelligent use of possession and hip-to-hip with no quarter asked or given. It relies on any number of qualities but above all it relies on the basics of hurling – first touch, mastery of the fundamentals but at ramming speed, fitness, instant and determined support of the man adjacent to you, and courage. Clare had most of those elements in place on Saturday evening. They didn’t have them all, still learning, still growing, but they had enough to overcome this particular challenge.

Dublin came to Ennis to bully this young Clare team, muscle them off Cusack Park, and once they had settled (Clare got an early 0-3 to 0-0 lead) that was what Dublin began to do, out-muscle and out-hustle Clare as they came back to outscore their hosts by 0-11 to 0-4 from there to the break. It should have been more, much more, but the same fatal flaws Dublin showed against Kilkenny were in evidence again here. A poor first touch (Alan McCrabbe’s failure to control a lovely through ball from Liam Rushe in the 24th minute example number one), lack of confidence in their shooting, a succession of poor wides and a couple of balls dropped short.

Those failings would continue to plague Dublin all the way to the end, no confidence to shoot from distance in the second half when faced with those wall of defenders. Worse though for Dublin, their physical dominance too was lost. “Physically I have no fear, I think we’re as strong as anyone,” said wing-back Brendan Bugler. “It’s safe to say we’ve done as much work as anyone, we’ve a great setup at the moment, a pleasure to be involved.” So it was that Clare won this game. The critical moment came in the 53rd minute, a 20m free very cleverly won by Darach Honan when he embraced the clumsy challenge of Peter Kelly and went to ground, then converted by Tony Kelly. “An 18-year-old,” Louis pointed out, “the spirit and confidence taking his points. The courage then to take his goal, to go for it at such a crucial stage, down a man. That was unstoppable.”

Then to Kelly add Sean Collins, Honan, Conor McGrath, Conlon, point-scorers all in that mighty second half, work-horses Jonny Clancy and Fergal Lynch. Also add goalkeeper Patrick Kelly and the entire defence, heroes to a man. “It’s the spirit they’re playing with,” said Louis. “They’re up at half-five some mornings for training. These lads will do anything for the Clare jersey. They’re so proud of that crest. It says ‘First into battle, last out’ and that’s the motto of this crop of players, this is what we hope to bring forward.”

Scorers for Clare: C McGrath 0-5 (4fs), T Kelly 1-2 (1-0f), J Conlon 0-4, D Honan, S Collins 0-2 each, S Morey 0-1.

Scorers for Dublin: P Ryan 0-9 (7fs, 2 65s), M O’Brien 0-2, D Tierney, D Sutcliffe, N Corcoran, S Lambert, A McCrabbe (f) 0-1 each.

Subs for Clare: P O’Connor for Cooney (inj. 23), C Galvin for Clancy (43), C Ryan for Honan (65), A Cunningham for Lynch (66).

Subs for Dublin: D O’Callaghan for O’Dwyer (44), S Durkin for McCaffrey (49), N McMorrow for Ryan (49), S Lambert for O’Brien 52), R O’Carroll for Treacy (56).

Referee: D Kirwan (Cork)


Gutsy Clare knock out Dublin

From the web site

GAA Hurling All-Ireland Qualifiers Phase II: Clare 1-16 Dublin 0-16

Fourteen man Clare produced a brilliant second-half performance to overturn a six point Dublin lead and secure a famous win on Saturday evening in Ennis. It was their first championship win in four years, and sends them into Phase III of the All-Ireland Qualifiers, meaning they are now just one game away from the quarter-finals. Clare were reduced to 14 men at the start of the second half when Nicky O’Connell was given a second yellow, and when Dublin hit the next two scores, the task looked all but impossible for the Banner men.

But somehow, Clare hit a raft of brilliant points to get level, and then teenager Tony Kelly’s 54th minute goal from a free was crucial, as it put Clare two points up at that stage. Dublin never recovered from that score and they failed to muster much of a comeback in the final 15 minutes as they limply exited the championship. They had led 0-11 to 0-7 at the break after a solid first half performance which showed a significant improvement from their last outing against Kilkenny. That said, Clare began much the sharper and hit the first three points of the game through John Conlon, Kelly and Conor McGrath.

The first half was distinguished by two periods in which Dublin, aided by the wind, dominated the scoring, and they hit five points in a row shortly after the Clare treble, all of them coming from set-pieces from Paul Ryan, to go 0-5 to 0-3 ahead after 18 minutes. Well-taken scores from Darach Honan and Conlon brought Clare level again, but a second Dublin purple patch followed, with another clatter of Ryan frees, alongside excellent points from play from Maurice O’Brien (2) and Danny Sutcliffe. That made it 0-11 to 0-6, but Shane Morey fired one over for Clare just before the break to leave four in it.

O’Connell’s dismissal made things very hard for the home side at the start of the second half, and when two Dublin points quickly followed from Ryan and David Treacy, the gap was six and Clare looked to have too much to do. But points from the outstanding Conlon, Kelly, and Seán Collins put three between them, and suddenly Clare had all the momentum. They went level on 50 minutes when McGrath powered over a free, but Alan McCrabbe ended a barren Dublin spell with a free of his own to put them back in front. Then came the Kelly goal, and the chance for a precious victory was there for Clare. They seized it brilliantly, and although Dublin knocked over a couple more points before the finish, Clare were always able to retain at least a two-point lead. Fittingly, it was Conlon who drove over the final score at the end of injury time to give Clare a three-point win, and they will await with interest news of their opponents in Phase III.

Team News

Clare have named their side for the All Ireland Qualifer against Dublin on this Saturday evening, it shows 5 changes in personnel from the side that lost out to Waterford in the Munster Hurling Semi-Final. Out go James McInerney, Patrick O Connor, Enda Barrett (Injured) Paudge Collins, and Colin Ryan and in comes Seadna Morey , Tony Kelly ( Both Championship Debut) Fergal Lynch, Sean Collins , and Darach Honan.

The Clare SH team is as follows – Patrick Kelly, Domhnall O Donnovan, Cian Dillon, Conor Cooney, Brendan Bugler, Patrick Donnellan (C) Nicky O Connell, Seadna Morey, Sean Collins, Fergal Lynch, Jonothan Clancy, Tony Kelly. John Conlon, Conor McGrath, Darach Honan

Match Previews

Two of the legends from Clare’s famous 1995 and 1997 teams will be reunited at Cusack Park on Saturday evening, as Davy Fitzgerald’s Clare welcome Anthony Daly’s Dublin to the west.

The two have not met before as opposing managers in the championship, as Waterford did not face Dublin in the competition during Fitzgerald’s stint with the Déise, so Clare fans at the Ennis venue will no doubt be happy to see the pair together again, even if it’s as rivals.

Saturday evening’s encounter will be the end of the road in 2012 for one of the counties, a consequence of their respective defeats in Munster and Leinster.

Dublin were outclassed by Kilkenny in the Leinster semi-final, with the Cats cruising to an 18-point victory that exposed major Dublin frailties. Much of the comment since the game has been that the match was not a true reflection of Dublin, and so quite a bit is expected of them against Clare as they look to regain their reputation as a genuine threat.

Championship Clashes

Clare v Dublin

2010: Dublin 2-22 Clare 0-15

2006: Clare 4-21 Dublin 1-16

2005: Clare 1-23 Dublin 0-9

2002: Clare 3-22 Dublin 1-8

In Clare, they face a side revitalised under the stewardship of Fitzgerald, but one still disappointed by the loss to Waterford in the Munster semi-finals. That game was in the balance until the final seconds, proof of how much more competitive Clare are under their former goalkeeper.

The sides met at the same stage of the Qualifiers in 2010, and Dublin won comfortably that day by 2-22 to 0-15, with Alan McCrabbe and David O’Callaghan contributing 0-14 of their tally.

Fitzgerald says no matter what happens on Saturday, he won’t be falling out with former comrade Daly. “I was texting ‘Dalo’ on Sunday before the draw was made,” he said. “I think we both had a feeling that we’d be playing each other. We said that no matter what happened there’d be no hard feelings. It’s a very hard draw for us.”

Daly says his side will have to work as hard as they possibly can to have a chance. “If we can bring a bit of fight and raw honesty, and fellas are willing to put their bodies on the line for the battle, we have a chance. But no more than that,” he said.

Conal Keaney and Conor McCormack are battling to be fit for the Dubs, who won’t name their team until before throw-in to allow the pair to prove their fitness.

How they got here…..

Waterford 2-17 Clare 1-18 (Munster semi-final)

Waterford finished strongly, edging out Clare by two points in a highly competitive Munster semi-final. John Conlon (1-2) and Nicky O’Connell (0-5) were Clare’s top scorers.

Dublin…3-23 Laois…1-7

Kilkenny…2-21 Dublin 0-9

A huge contrast for Dublin who were runaway winners over Laois before losing heavily to Kilkenny in the Leinster semi-final. Paul Ryan (0-9), Liam Rushe (2- 2) and David Treacy (1-2) were top scorers for Dublin against Laois. Ryan (0-4) was also Dublin’s top scorer against Kilkenny.