Clare 1-11 Sligo 0-7
A Gary Brennan goal, nine minutes from time, was the game clinching score in Clare’s opening 2016 division 3 league game in wet and windy Miltown Malbay on Sunday. A huge element of luck helped Clare to create the goal. A long ball from Jamie Malone bounced over the collective heads of the Clare full forward and Sligo full back line. The ball hit the post and bounced into the arms of Clare substitute Pat Burke, who placed Brennan for the games crucial score.
In a five minute second half spell Sligo had black cards shown to key men Niall Murphy and Brian Egan, leaving the already depleted Connacht county running out of options.
Clare played into a very strong breeze in the opening half and trailed 0-4 to 0-2 at half time. While the conditions made it very difficult to play constructive football, both teams gave the ball away regularly and their decision making was often poor. This was more marked from Sligo who did not make sufficient use of the elements during the first 35 minutes.
They did settle much quicker than Clare however and Niall Carew’s team led 0-3 to 0-0 after 13 minutes. Noel Gaughan, linking with Brian Egan, put over their first point from play, while Niall Murphy added two. He put over his first seconds after Sligo’s opener. The men in black and white won the Clare kick out and created the opening for Murphy.
Shane McGrath put over Clare’s first point in the 15th minute, although he had to argue his case as it was initially waved wide. Nine minutes later David Tubridy pointed from play, a minute after Martin O’Leary had a couple of half chance goal opportunities.
Just before half time, Murphy put over his third point for Sligo, leaving them two points ahead at half time. Clare kicked three first half wides while Sligo kicked seven, from play and frees.
A feature of the opening quarter was Sligo’s tendency to immediately foul Gary Brennan once he won possession. The Clare captain was fouled three times in those early minutes.
Clare upped their game somewhat at times in the second half and this was reflected in that they outscored Sligo 1-9 to 0-3. David Tubridy kicked Clare’s first four points of the second half, including an exquisite line ball.
There were elements of Clare’s game which were poor including their tendency to spill possession when under pressure and a lack of composure when emerging from defence. Still a win is a win in what is an exceptionally competitive division. Debutantes Cian O’Dea and Pearse Lillis both excelled as did Cathal O’Connor, Gary Brennan, David Tubridy and Seán Collins.
Clare: Joe Hayes (Lissycasey); Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora), Kevin Hartnett (Meelick), Martin McMahon (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare), Gordon Kelly (St Joseph’s, Miltown), Jamie Malone (Corofin); Gary Brennan (Clondegad-captain), Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen); Seán Collins (Cratloe), Enda Coughlan (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Shane MceGrath (Thomas Davis); Martin O’Leary (Kilmihil), Eoin Cleary (St Joseph’s, Miltown), David Tubridy (Doonbeg).
Subs: Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Martin O’Leary (28), Pat Burke (Kilmacud Crokes) for Shane McGrath (53), Graham Kelly (St Joseph’s, Miltown) for Enda Coughlan (60), Seán Haugh (O’Curry’s) for David Tubridy (BC-72), Seánie Malone (St Joseph’s, Miltown) for Jamie Malone (73).
Scorers: David Tubridy (0-5, 0-3f), Eoin Cleary (0-3, 0-2f), Gary Brennan (1-0), Cathal O’Connor (0-2, 0-1 line ball), Shane McGrath (0-1).
Yellow cards: Seán Collins, Cathal O’Connor.
Black card: David Tubridy.
Sligo: Aidan Devaney; Johnny Kelly, Eoin Flanagan, Michael Gordon; Keelan Cawley, Brendan Egan, Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch; Eoin McHugh, Kevin McDonnell; Neil Ewing (captain), Niall Murphy, Noel Gaughan; Brian Egan, Pat Hughes, Criostoir Davey.
Subs: Cian Breheny for Cristóir Davey (44), Adrian McIntyre for Eoin McHugh (48), James Hynes for Niall Murphy (BC-56), Mark Breheny for Brian Egan (58), Kenneth Sweeney for Noel Gaughan (70).
Scorers: Niall Murphy (0-3, 0-2f), Noel Gaughan, Brian Egan, Kevin McDonnell, Mark Breheny (f) (0-1 each).
Yellow cards: Eoin McHugh.
Black cards: Niall Murphy, Brian Egan.
Referee: James Bermingham (Cork).