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Footballers well beaten but survive in division 2

Meath 3-19 Clare 1-13

DESPITE an emphatic 12 point loss to Meath in Cusack Park on Sunday, Clare will play division 2 football in 2018. Derry’s defeat of Fermanagh and Down’s draw with Cork, meant that they, along with Clare ended their league campaign on five points. However Clare retained their status based on their superior scoring difference.

While Clare played some good football in the first half, following a shaky start, they were comprehensively outplayed after the interval. In fact Meath outscored their 3-10 to 1-5 with wing forward Cillian O’Sullivan putting away two goals while centre back Brian Power added the third for a rampant Royal County. Meath were so much in control they substituted Graham Reilly, who put over 0-6 from play, 15 minutes from time.

The winners led 0-9 to 0-8 at half-time, with Reilly and Eamonn Wallace contributing a flurry of superb points. Eoin Cleary did likewise for Clare in the opening half. Slow to settle, they trailed 0-4 to 0-0 after eight minutes but rallied commendably after that, with Cleary and Jamie Malone taking the game to Meath.

Before throw in, Clare were dealt a severe blow when they had to start without injured midfielder and captain Gary Brennan., who was replaced in the starting 15 by Ciarán Russell. While the second half was very disappointing, 15 of the combined 17 first half scores were kicked from play by 11 players.

However Meath took control immediately after half-time with Reilly pointing again, while seconds later, O’Sullivan put away his first goal, with the visitors winning the Clare kick out. David Tubridy, with a point from a ’45, was the only Clare scorer in the opening 16 minutes of the second half, such was Meath’s dominance.

Set up by corner back, Donal Keogan, O’Sulllivan netted again, 11 minutes into the second half, while Meath centre back palmed home his sides third, two minutes later.

A more comprehensive report and analysis will be published in Thursday’s Clare Champion.

MEATH: Paddy O’Rourke; Donal Keogan, Conor McGill, Donnacha Tobin; Pauric Harnan, Brian Power, Shane McEntee; Bryan Menton, James Toher; Eamonn Wallace, Graham Reilly (captain), Cillian O’Sullivan; Bryan McMahon, Seán Tobin, Donal Lenihan.

Subs: James McEntee for Seán Tobin (45), Joey Wallace for Donal Lehinan (48), Ruairí O’Coileáin for Graham Reilly (55), Mickey Burke for Shane McEntee (56), Adam Flanagan for Brian Power (59), Willie Carry for Bryan McMahon (65).

Scorers for Meath: Graham Reilly (0-6), Cillian O’Sullivan (2-0), Eamonn Wallace (0-3), Brian Power (1-0), Pauric Harnan, Bryan McMahon (0-2 each), James Toher (0-2, 1f, 1 45), Seán Tobin, Donal Lenihan, Joey Wallace, James McEntee (0-1 each).

CLARE: Joe Hayes; Dean Ryan, Kevin Harnett, Martin McMahon (captain); Liam Markham, Gordon Kelly, John Hayes; Ciarán Russell, Shane Brennan; Cian O’Dea, Eoin Cleary, Cathal O’Connor; Keelan Sexton, David Tubridy, Jamie Malone.

Subs: Eoghan Collins for Liam Markham (45), David Egan for David Tubridy (53), Seanie Malone for Keelan Sexton (55), Mikey O’Neill for Cian O’Dea (58), Darren Nagle for Kevin Harnett (63), Darragh Bohannon for Ciarán Russell (67).

Scorers for Clare: Eoin Cleary (1-6, 4f), Jamie Malone (0-2), John Hayes, Keelan Sexton, Ciarán Russell, Cathal O’Connor, David Tubridy (45) (0-1 each).

Referee: John Hickey (Carlow).

About Peter O'Connell

West Clare native Peter O'Connell has worked for The Clare Champion for 12 years and covers everything from sport, especially GAA, news, features and has been even known to branch into the fashion scene on occasion.

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