Offaly 0-15 Clare 1-11
FOLLOWING an exceptionally poor first half display, Clare improved significantly in the second period but eventually lost out to a Michael Brazil point from play, which was kicked six minutes into injury time. The fact that the Offaly centre forward cut through the Clare defence without any Clare defender impeding his progress, underlined some of the deficiencies in this display. Lifted by their wins over Limerick and Westmeath, Clare showed few signs of their form in those games. While their performance was not good enough, if promotion is to be a realistic aim, they did show admirable resolve in the second half and Eoin Cleary’s 70th minute goal leveled the game. Five minutes into injury time the Miltown forward was certain he had kicked the winning point but it was waved wide and neither was a 45 awarded. He confirmed afterwards that if the ball was in fact wide, it was definitely a 45. A minute later Brazil sailed through the Clare defence and kicked the score that brings Offaly level with Clare on six points in the division 3 league table. Seven minutes of injury time were played while Offaly forward Bernard Allen received treatment for an accidental head injury.
Clare were 0-8 to 0-5 down at half time and were lucky to be so close. Ironically they started very well and points from Gary Brennan and Eoin Cleary, both from play, helped them into a two point lead after just four minutes.
However they didn’t score again for 12 minutes when Seán Collins pointed from play. In the interim Offaly had kicked four points with corner forward Bernard Allen particularly impressive. He put over three first half points, two from play while full forward Nigel Dunne also put over a brace from open play.
Clare struggled in several sectors in that opening half. Their forward movement was disjointed and their passing was often poor. While they kicked just two wides in the opening period, three efforts also ended up in the arms of Offaly goalkeeper Alan Mulhall.
Clare introduced Dean Ryan five minutes before half time in place of Pearse Lillis. Ryan played at wing back while Jamie Malone moved to the half forward line, where he almost immediately landed a nice score. Malone pointed again in the opening minute of the second half while Pat Burke, David Tubridy with three frees and Cleary, completed Clare’s second half points tally.
Making this defeat and performance even more frustrating was the fact that Kildare and Tipperary lost to Sligo and Longford respectively. Had Clare won they would have ended up joint top of the division 3 table, along with Kildare.
Before they play Longford in Ennis on Sunday week they must find out why they were so lax in the opening half in Tullamore. They also need to start playing a more direct game and up the pace of their support play. Too often they are holding possession but making no incisions into opposition defensive systems.
Clare: Joe Hayes; Seánie Malone, Kevin Harnett, Martin McMahon; Cian O’Dea, Gordon Kelly, Jamie Malone; Gary Brennan (captain), Cathal O’Connor; Seán Collins, Eoin Cleary, Shane McGrath, Enda Coughlan, David Tubridy, Pearse Lillis.
Subs: Dean Ryan for Pearse Lillis (30), Keelan Sexton for Shane McGrath (half-time), Pat Burke for Seán Collins (BC 38), Graham Kelly for Enda Coughlan (60), Seán Haugh for Kevin Harnett (70).
Scorers: Eoin Cleary (1-2, 0-1f), David Tubridy (0-3f), Jamie Malone (0-2), Gary Brennan, Seán Collins, Enda Coughlan, Pat Burke (0-1 each).
Yellow cards: Cathal O’Connor, Graham Kelly, Eoin Cleary.
Offaly: Alan Mulhall (captain); Brian Darby, Eoin Rigney, Seán Pender; Niall Darby, Johnny Moloney, Joey O’Connor; Eoin Carroll, Jason Gethings; Graham Guilfoyle, Michael Brazil, Willie Mulhall; Bernard Allen, Nigel Dunne, Niall McNamee.
Subs: Joe Maher for Bernard Allen (43), Anton Sullivan for Graham Guilfoyle (46), Seán Doyle for Conor McNamee (70), Ruairí McNamee for Niall McNamee (70).
Scorers: Bernard Allen for (0-5, 0-3f), Nigel Dunne (0-3), Michael Brazil (0-2), Graham Guilfoyle, Joey O’Connor, Conor McNamee, Joe Maher (f), Anton Sullivan (0-1 each).
Yellow cards: Nigel Dunne, Conor McNamee, Joey O’Connor, Jason Gethings, Eoin Carroll.
Red card: Eoin Carroll
Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare).