Armagh 3-11 Clare 1-11
TEN points down at half-time, Clare produced a stirring second half display to drag themselves to within two points of Armagh half way through the second half. However it wasn’t sufficient to reel in the visiting county and joint division 3 table toppers. A second Tony Kernan goal, four minutes from time, sealed the win for Kieran McGeeney’s team who had lead 2-8 to 0-4 at the interval having comprehensively outplayed Clare in the opening half.
Ironically the home county started very well and led 0-2 to 0-0 seven minutes with Shane Brennan and Jamie Malone pointing from play.
Armagh however preceded to take over and kicked 2-5 without reply. In fact Clare were held scoreless for 17 minutes. In the interim full forward Ethan Rafferty, held off Clare full back Kevin Harnett to bury Armagh’s first goal, which was also their opening score.
Thereafter Andy Mallon, one of three Armagh players to be black carded, Eugene McVerry, Tony Kernan and Aidan Forker added points.
They hit the net again in the 18th minute when Kernan supported his own ball towards full forward Rafferty. The latter laid it off to Kernan who finished neatly.
Jamie Malone pointed for Clare, two minutes after Pat Burke rolled a goal chance wide. Armagh finished the half impressively with Michael McKenna, Caolan Rafferty and substitute Andrew Murnin pointing to extend their lead to ten points.
Clare captain Gary Brennan scored his teams final first half point, from a free, just before the interval.
To make a game of it, Clare needed to throw everything at Armagh and to their credit they did that. They moved Gary Brennan to full forward where he was shadowed by Armagh midfielder Aaron Findon. Clare won five Armagh kick outs in a row and put 1-5 on the board before the visiting managed a response.
Pat Burke netted the Clare goal in the seventh minute after Cathal O’Connor had found Gary Brennan with a long ball. Brennan laid off to Burke who finished, although surrounded by Armagh defenders.
Points from Shane McGrath, Seán Collins, O’Connor and Brennan roused the home crowd and suddenly Clare were playing with discernible confidence.
Armagh introduced Jamie Clarke, who steadied them somewhat as did fellow substitute Stephen Harold, who like Clarke kicked a valuable point.
With less than five minutes remaining Clare were just three points adrift but Kernan’s second goal finished the game as a contest.
Kernan played well for Armagh as did Aaron Findon and Aidan Forker, while Jamie Malone, Gary Brennan and Gordon Kelly did well for Clare who now sit on four points from five games and play Limerick in their penultimate league game on Sunday week.
Clare: Joe Hayes (Lissycasey); Dean Ryan (Eire óg), Kevin Harnett (Meelick), Martin McMahon
(Kilmurry Ibrickane); Ciaran Russell (Éire óg), Gordon Kelly (Miltown), Jamie Malone (Corofin); Gary Brennan (Clondegad-captain), Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen); Seán Collins (Cratloe), Shane Hickey (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Shane McGrath (Thomas Davis); Podge Collins (Cratloe), Shane Brennan (Clondegad), Pat Burke (Kilmacud Crokes).
Subs: Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Pat Burke, Cathal McInerney (Cratloe) for Shane Hickey (both 60), Seán Haugh (O’Curry’s) for Ciaran Russell (68-black card).
Scorers: Jamie Malone (0-3), Pat Burke (1-0), Cathal O’Connor (0-2, 0-1f), Gary Brennan 0-2, 0-1f), Shane Brennan, Shane McGrath, Seán Collins, Cathal McInerney (f) (0-1each).
Black card: Ciaran Russell, Shane Brennan.
Yellow cards: Dean Ryan, Gordon Kelly, Cathal O’Connor.
Armagh: Paddy Morrison; Mark McConville, Charlie Vernon, Michael Murray; Mark Shields, Finnian Moriarty, Andy Mallon; Aaron Findon, Peter Carragher; Tony Kernan, Michael McKenna, Aidan Forker; Caolan Rafferty, Ethan Rafferty, Eugene McVerry.
Subs: Andrew Murnin for Ethan Rafferty (27-black card), Ciaran O’Hanlon for Andy Mallon (44-black card), Stephen Harold for Peter Carragher (45), Jamie Clarke for Michael McKenna (54), Gavin McParland for Aidan Forker (55), Brendan Donaghy for Eugene McVerry (68).
Scorers: Tony Kernan (2-2, 0-2f), Ethan Rafferty (1-0), Aidan Forker (0-2), Andy Mallon, Eugene McVerry, Michael McKenna, Andrew Murnin, Caolan Rafferty, Stephen Harold, Jamie Clarke (f) (0-1 each).
Black cards: Ethan Rafferty, Andy Mallon, Finnian Moriarty.
Yellow cards: Michael Murray, Michael McKenna, Aidan Forker.
Red card: Michael Murray.
Referee: Michael Collins (Cork).
(By Peter O’Connell)