Desmond League 1 Clare League 1
STEPHEN Hickey earned Clare a share of the spoils in this Oscar Traynor first-round tie at Askeaton when he struck for the equalising goal in the final minute of the game.
The home side, the holders of this title, had taken the lead towards the end of the opening half but Clare fought right to the end and were rewarded just before the full-time whistle.
The Desmond League dominated the first-half exchanges with Scott Hurley proving a thorn in the Clare side throughout. He put in a good cross for Barry O’Riordan after 10 minutes, which O’Riordan header over the crossbar. Ten minutes later, Hurley had a shot from the left that narrowly missed the target.
Moments later, Liam Murphy had to put in a great tackle to keep O’Riordan out. O’Riordan and Hurley combined again at the mid point of the half and Clare goalie, John Healy, was called on to make a great save. Adrian McDonagh had a good shot from outside the box saved by Billy Quirke in the Desmond goal while, at the other end, David Roche missed a great chance to put the Desmond in front after half an hour.
McDonagh made a good run at the Desmond defence two minutes later and earned Clare a corner. Mike O’Malley’s well-delivered corner was met in the air by a Stephen Hickey header that just went wide of the right post. Hickey had a good run and cross on 35 minutes that the Desmond defence had to scramble to safety.
The lead came with seven minutes to go to the break when the home side won a corner, which was not dealt with by the Clare defence and O’Riordan found himself in space inside the box and struck well to the left corner with Healy given no chance in the Clare goal. Clare almost grabbed an equaliser on the stroke of half-time when a Hickey shot from inside the box was well saved by Quirke.
Clare started the second half brightly with McDonagh making a great run and shot just went wide of the right post. Healy was called on again to make another great save five minutes into the half. A shot from Hurley was deflected into the path of O’Riordan six yards out and Healy reacted well to make a great save to keep Clare in the match.
On the hour mark, Healy was called on again to keep out a free kick from Hurley from the edge of the box. Clare brought in Trevor Maxwell and Michael Devitt for O’Malley and McMillian in a reshuffle that moved Russell into midfield. Richie Lillis had a good run and shot go narrowly wide before Hickey had a great effort from 30 yards touched over the crossbar by Quirke.
Clare were starting to throw everything into attack and the Desmond were always dangerous on the break. Roche missed a great chance for the Desmond when he hit the side net with a shot from inside the box. Clare were starting to pile on the pressure and Hickey had another header go over the crossbar after a great run and cross by McDonagh down the right wing.
Hickey had a great chance to level the game with minutes remaining but again narrowly missed the target. Healy was called on again two minutes later to make another great save from a Hurley shot from inside the box. O’Donnell thought he had wrapped up the points for the Desmond a minute later, getting on the end of a through ball from Hurley only for his effort to be ruled out for offside. Clare introduced David McCarthy for Fahy and with his first touch, McCarthy turned inside his man and put in a great cross from the right wing that was met in the air by a powerful Hickey header and Clare were level and back in with a great chance of making the quarter-finals of this years competition.
The final whistle sounded shortly afterwards and Clare celebrated the late equaliser while the Desmond were deflated. Clare now play the Cork Business League at home in early December when victory should secure their passage to the quarter-finals.
Clare: John Healy, Liam Murphy, Richie Lillis, David Russell, Mattie Nugent, Con Collins, Ally McMillian, Mike O’Malley, Stephen Hickey, Adrian McDonagh, Derek Fahy.
Subs: Trevor Maxwell for O’Malley, Michael Devitt for McMillian, David McCarthy for Fahy.
Limerick Desmond: Billy Quirke, John Kelliher, Mick Barry, Peter O’Dea, Anthony O’Donnell, Mike Lyons, Gary Egan, Alan O’Shea, David Riche, Barry O’Riordan, Scott Hurley.
Subs: Lee O’Donnell for O’Riordan; Michael Behan for Lyons; Michael Quilligan for O’Shea.