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Pearse Lillis of Clare in action against Evan Carroll of Laois during their National League clash at Cusack Park. Photograph by John Kelly

Clare footballers get league campaign off to flier with home win over Laois

National Football League Division 2 South Round 1
Clare 1-16 Laois 0-12

THERE was no grandstand finish in the second of Clare’s Cusack Park double-header after Colm Collins’ side eased to a commanding victory over Laois to commence their Division 2 campaign in ideal fashion this afternoon, reports Eoin Brennan.
Leading from start to finish, Clare never loosened their grip on proceedings at any stage after wing-back Daniel Walsh completed the perfect debut with a top corner finish in the 27th minute for what was the only goal of the game. Indeed, the Kilmurry Ibrickane clubman finished with 1-2 while captain Eoin Cleary was equally as influential as his double figure tally included points from play, frees, a mark and even a superb lineball from the left wing to close out a comfortable opener.
With the wind at their backs, Clare’s bright start of unanswered points through Cleary, Keelan Sexton and Cathal O’Connor was dampened by a hamstring injury for 2019 All-Star nominee Jamie Malone.
Eoin Cleary continued to lead the line before Walsh’s goal extended the hosts’ advantage to seven but a glorious opportunity of a second from the kick-out through Darragh Bohannon was repelled by goalkeeper Niall Corbet as Clare took a 1-8 to 0-5 lead into the dressing rooms.
With Laois unable to utilise the conditions on the restart, Clare only grew in stature as the half progressed with Cleary, Walsh, Pearse Lillis and substitute David Tubridy eventually opening up a ten point cushion at 1-16 to 0-09 entering the final minutes.
Laois, despite kicking ten wides, never gave up and did convert the last three points of the contest. However, they were merely consultations as by then Clare had used their full 22 squad including additional senior debuts for Ikem Ugwueru and Aaron Griffin.
The tests only get tougher though as Clare face fellow unbeaten side Kildare in Newbridge next Sunday before hosting Cork in the final round a week later.

Eoin Cleary of Clare embraces Daniel Walsh following their National League clash at Cusack Park. Photograph by John Kelly

CLARE: Stephen Ryan (Kilrush Shamrocks); Ciaran Russell (Éire Óg), Cillian Brennan (Clondegad), Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis, Mayo); Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora), Sean Collins (Cratloe), Daniel Walsh (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Darren O’Neill (Éire Óg), Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen); Darragh Bohannon (Shannon Gaels), Eoin Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown), Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare); Gavin Cooney (Éire Óg), Jamie Malone (Corofin), Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane).
Subs: Joe McGann (St Breckan’s) for Malone (4, inj), David Tubridy (Doonbeg) for Sexton (HT), Alan Sweeney (St Breckan’s) for E. Collins (54), Emmet McMahon (Kildysart) for O’Neill (54), Aaron Griffin (Lissycasey) for Cooney (63), Ikem Ugwueru (Éire Óg) for O’Dea (66), Cormac Murray (St Joseph’s Miltown) for Lillis (66)

Scorers:
Eoin Cleary (0-10, 5f, 1m, 1’45, 1sl); Daniel Walsh (1-2); Keelan Sexton (m), Cathal O’Connor, David Tubridy (f), Pearse Lillis (0-1 each)

LAOIS: Niall Corbet (Clonaslee St Manman’s); Robert Pigott (Portarlington), Mark Timmons (Graiguecullen), Gareth Dillon (Portlaoise); Trevor Collins (Graiguecullen), Colm Begley (Stradbally), Paddy O’Sullivan (Portarlington); Kieran Lillis (Portlaoise), John O’Loughlin (Rosenallis); Eoin Lowry (Killeshin), Paul Kingston (Arles-Kilcruise), Daniel O’Reilly (Graiguecullen); Mark Barry (O’Dempsey’s), Donie Kingston (Arles-Kilcruise), Evan O’Carroll (Crettyard). Subs: Gary Walsh (Ballylinan) for O’Reilly (HT), Brian Byrne (Graiguecullen) for Lowry (46), Brian Daly (St Joseph’s) for Lillis (54), Michael Keogh (St Joseph’s) for Barry (54), Eoin Buggie (Stradbally) for Collins (62), Ross Munnelly (Arles-Kilcruise) for P. Kingston (66), Shane Bolger (Killeshin) for Timmons (66)

Scorers: Donie Kingston (0-4, 2f); Gary Walsh (0-3, 2f); Evan O’Carroll (1m), Niall Corbet (f), Paul Kingston, Brian Byrne, Colm Begley (0-1 each)

Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary)

Jamie Malone of Clare is helped off with an injury during their National League clash at Cusack Park. Photograph by John Kelly
Joe Mc Gann of Clare in action against Gareth Dillon and Mark Timmins of Laois during their National League clash at Cusack Park. Photograph by John Kelly
Cillian Brennan of Clare in action against Donal Kingston of Laois during their National League clash at Cusack Park. Photograph by John Kelly
Colm Collins, Clare manager with his charges on their first water break during their National League clash at Cusack Park. Photograph by John Kelly
Pearse Lillis of Clare in action against Robert Pigott of Laois during their National League clash at Cusack Park. Photograph by John Kelly

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