Allianz Hurling League Rd 4
CLARE 2-22 Wexford 1-22
Fortress Cusack Park just about remained intact as Clare survived a stern Wexford backlash to record their eighth successive home victory over the past two seasons in front of 4,245 this afternoon.
Goals from All-Star duo John Conlon and Peter Duggan had powered the Banner County 13 points clear by the 50th minute, only to somehow be left scrambling for victory after a momentum-fuelled Wexford produced a remarkable sea-change for the remainder.
Such was the narrative of an inconsistent 70 minutes that saw Clare lead from the seventh minute to the finish without ever fully closing out the tie.
Eight different scorers helped the hosts to a 0-15 to 0-11 opening period advantage entering injury-time and they would receive a timely jolt with almost the last puck of the half when John Conlon finished off a flowing move involving Tony Kelly and David Fitzgerald to ensure a seven point lead.
1-3 without reply on the restart bolstered Clare’s margin to 13 highlighted by a Peter Duggan goaled penalty that he earned himself after being felled on his was to goal by Matthew O’Hanlon in the 39th minute.
Diarmuid Ryan almost added a third goal in the 50th minute but instead the teenager had to be content with his fourth point of the afternoon that saw Clare lead by 2-19 to 0-12 nearing the turn of the final quarter.
However, perhaps believing that the job was done, Clare switched off and it would allow Wexford to regain confidence and more significantly a foothold in a contest that had previously seemed beyond them.
An unanswered 1-8 blitz followed over the next 13 minutes that included a trio of Rory O’Connor points and an excellent volleyed goal from Shaun Murphy in the 60th minute after Lee Chin’s initial effort had been repelled.
With the gap now down to two, a nervy home side did eventually bounce back with successive points from Podge Collins and Ian Galvin to restore a four point margin as the game drifted into four minutes of additional time.
However, after a Jack O’Connor free, a determined Wexford went in search of an equalising goal and only for a superb reaction save from goalkeeper Donal Tuohy at the death from a Rory O’Connor pull, Clare’s quarter-final hopes may have been severely dented ahead of a final round showdown with neighbours Limerick back in Ennis next Sunday.
Scorers for Clare: Peter Duggan 1-6 (1-0 Pen, 6f), Diarmuid Ryan 0-4, John Conlon 1-1, Podge Collins 0-3, David Fitzgerald 0-2, Tony Kelly 0-2, Ian Galvin 0-2, Colm Galvin 0-1, Shane Golden 0-1.
Scorers for Wexford: Rory O’Connor 0-5 (1f), Ian Byrne 0-4 (4f), Shaun Murphy 1-0, Cathal Dunbar 0-2, Liam Óg McGovern 0-2, Kevin Foley 0-2, Jack O’Connor 0-2 (1f), Aidan Nolan 0-1, Liam Ryan 0-1, Diarmuid O’Keeffe 0-1, Lee Chin 0-1, Paul Morris 0-1
ClARE: Donal Tuohy; Rory Hayes, David McInerney, Jack Browne; Patrick O’Connor. Conor Cleary, David Fitzgerald; Shane Golden, Colm Galvin; Peter Duggan, Tony Kelly, Diarmuid Ryan; Ian Galvin, John Conlon, Podge Collins.
Subs: Cathal Malone for Fitzgerald (55), Ryan Taylor for Golden (61), Jason McCarthy for O’Connor (65), Aidan McCarthy for Ryan (69), Aron Shanagher for Conlon (69, inj)
WEXFORD: Mark Fanning; Liam Ryan, Darren Byrne, Shane Reck; Paudie Foley, Shaun Murphy, Matthew O’Hanlon; Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Liam Óg McGovern; Kevin Foley, Ian Byrne, Aidan Nolan; Cathal Dunbar, Lee Chin, Rory O’Connor (St Martin’s).
Subs: Conor McDonald for McGovern (HT), Paul Morris for Byrne (HT), Damien Reck for S. Reck (54), Jack O’Connor for Dunbar (55), Harry Kehoe for Nolan (67)
Referee John Keenan (Wicklow)