Allianz Hurling League Roinn 1 Relegation Playoff – Clare 3-18 Dublin 0-19

Clare defeated Dublin by 3-18 to 0-19 in the Allianz Hurling League Roinn 1 Relegation Playoff on Sunday April 2nd at Cusack Park Ennis.


Tony Kelly strikes and Clare survive

Report by Kieran Shannon for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Clare 3-18 Dublin 0-19

It’s only two weeks ago Tony Kelly was stifled by Dublin opposition above in Croke Park and for the first half in Cusack Park yesterday, Ger Cunningham’s team, boosted by the return of their victorious Cuala contingent, had him well tied up as well.

About the only time Kelly had been able to express himself was just a couple of minutes before half-time when he ingeniously pop-slapped a ball on the touchline straight up into his hand and immediately swung it over the bar, but just like on St Patrick’s Day the Ballyea man had yet to get into his familiar majestic stride and fire points for fun on the run.

At the break Dublin were 0-13 to 1-8 up, and as Clare joint-manager Gerry O’Connor would admit afterwards, only for Andrew Fahy, his team would have been trailing by more; the Whitegate man made a couple of fine saves as well as launching in the free which Aaron Shanagher would catch at the far end and dispatch brilliantly past Conor Dooley.

But within two minutes of the restart, Kelly galloped into open space to rifle over a couple of points shortly before a John Conlon goal. And even Dublin would claw to within three points entering the last 12 minutes, the game was then effectively decided when Kelly intercepted a stray Dooley short puckout and buried it to the net.

“It was definitely a game of two halves,” said O’Connor. “You’ll have days when things aren’t going for you and you just need to stick in there and keep fighting. We have a lot of good quality players and they just kept working and our defence got on top and we started building from there. And when you have a forward like Tony, then everything is possible.”

Kelly wasn’t the only Ballyea man to make an important intervention and ensure any remaining All-Ireland final blues weren’t compounded by a bout of relegation. Paul Flanagan was brought on at half-time into a previously creaking full-back line, and as O’Connor would observe afterwards, brought an impressive composure to the area in both his distribution and his defending.

It was more a change of attitude than personnel though that was the key to Clare’s second-half surge. In the opening 35 minutes Dublin’s forwards on the flanks rifled over an array of fine points as the likes of youngsters Donal Burke, Eamonn Dillon and Carolan Conway were constantly out in front and afforded time to turn and slot over the bar.

O’Connor seemed to suggest in the dressing room at half-time his colleague Donal Moloney “encouraged” – for lack of a better term – their charges, but whatever he said and however he said it, the effect was a much greater level of intensity and aggression from the backline. The likes of Cian Dillon and David McInerney roared into the game, getting out in front of their direct opponents and charging out with the ball, and allied to the power running of Jason McCarthy, Kelly, David Reidy and particularly Conlon upfront, Clare overwhelmed the visiting side in front of a crowd of 7,276.

“We’re five months into this project and we were going to be probably judged on this game,” said O’Connor. “And that showed in the first-half. We were nervous, we took wrong options at times, but the focus and application at the start of the second-half was excellent. I thought our full-back line and half-back line really dominated and when Jason McCarthy came into the half-back line it helped further matters again.

“We’re finding out about where we need to be for June 4 [their Munster semi-final date against Limerick]. If you were talking to us at half-time, you’d say we were a long way off where we need to be at. But we might have edged closer going by the last 35-40 minutes.”

There would still be a nervy spell in that second-half. They went 18 minutes with just one score and when All Ireland Club winner David Treacy tidily fired over two consecutive points from the wing, Dublin were back to within three, 2-13 to 0-16.

Then came Kelly’s goal. After that Dublin’s resistance pretty much yielded, outside of Chris Crummey finishing with a tally of three points from wing back.

Scorers for Clare: T Kelly 1-3, D Reidy 0-6 (five frees), A Shanagher 1-2, J Conlon 1-1, C Galvin and J McCarthy 0-2 each, D Fitzgerald and A Cunningham 0-1 each.

Scorers for Dublin: D Treacy 0-7 (0-5 frees), C Crummey, E Dillon and D Burke 0-3 each, C Conway 0-2, N McMorrow 0-1.

CLARE: A Fahy; C Dillon, D McInerney, S Morey; B Bugler, C Cleary, D Fitzgerald; J Shanahan, C Galvin; J Conlon, P Collins, T Kelly; C McInerney, A Shanagher, D Reidy
Subs: J McCarthy for Shanahan (inj, 20 mins), P Flanagan for Morey (half-time), A Cunningham for C McInerney (48), C Malone for Cleary (58), G O’Connell for Bugler (66).

DUBLIN: C Dooley; S Barrett, E O’Donnell, O Gough; C Crummey, C O’Callaghan, L Rushe; D O’Connell, B Quinn; D Treacy, N McMorrow, D Burke; C Conway, R O’Dwyer, E Dillon
Subs: J Malone for Quinn (34 mins), C Boland for Conway (45), R McBride for O’Dwyer (48), F Whitely for McMorrow (62), S O’Riain for Treacy (inj, 66).

Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary).

Click here for details about Clare v Limerick Munster SFC Quarter-Final on May 28th