National Football League Division 1 Round 5
Galway 2-8 Clare 1-5
THE promotion race is down to just three candidates after Galway eventually eased past the challenge off neighbours Clare in a rare derby in Tuam Stadium, writes Eoin Brennan.
With the other Division 1 prospectors Derry and Roscommon sharing the spoils, Padraic Joyce’s side soared to the top to the Division 2 table after preserving their perfect National League start.
Backed by two-thirds of the side that started last year’s Connacht Final against Mayo, the Tribesmen were full value for their victory after a 1-5 unanswered second half blitz with the aid of the strong conditions.
In contrast, Clare only had seven survivors from their sole 2021 championship outing against Kerry, which became six after only seven minutes when Podge Collins had to retire early through injury followed just before half-time by Alan Sweeney on an all-round disappointing afternoon.
An error-strewn display was matched by a lack of ruthlessness up front as Clare suffered back-to-back defeats and now require a victory against either Meath or Down in their final outings to cement their Division 2 standing.
Clare received the perfect early boost when Aaron Griffin found Keelan Sexton in the left corner to offload to the overlapping Cillian Rouine who fired to the net in only the third minute. It took ten minutes for the home side to open their account through Johnny Heaney but Galway would hit the front for the first time in style nearing the end of the opening quarter when Shane Walsh’s mazy run perfectly picked out Robert Finnerty to find the net at 1-2 to 1-1.
Finnerty’s star would fall when needlessly tripping Cillian Brennan to earn a black card in the 23rd minute. However, Clare, despite a sizeable wind advantage couldn’t capitalise against 14 men with only an Eoin Cleary free to show for the final 25 minutes of the half to ensure a 1-2 to 1-2 stalemate.
The visitors did start the new half encouragingly with a David Tubridy mark but would be hit by a home storm for the next 30 minutes as the Tribesmen kicked 1-5 without reply to put the result beyond any doubt. It was Damien Comber’s 41st minute goal that would prove decisive as it stemmed from an interception from a Clare restart. That score lifted the home side from their previous funk while deflating the Banner who fell 2-7 to 1-3 in arrears before finally breaking their 30 minute barren patch.
Not even a Keelan Sexton free could spark a late rally as Dessie Conneely and Jamie Malone traded late points to seal Clare’s fate.
Galway: Conor Flaherty (Claregalway); Kieran Molloy (Corofin), Jack Glynn (Claregalway), Liam Silke (Corofin); Dylan McHugh (Corofin), John Daly (Mountbellew Moylough), Cillian McDaid (Monivea Abbey); Paul Kelly (Moycullen), Paul Conroy (St James’); Matthew Tierney (Oughterard), Shane Walsh (Kilkerrin Clonberne), Johnny Heaney (Killannin); Robert Finnerty (Salthill/Knocknacarra), Damien Comer (Annaghdown), Owen Gallagher (Moycullen)
Subs: Finnian Ó Laoi (An Spidéal) for Gallagher (45), Eoin Finnerty (Mountbellew Moylough) for Walsh (48, inj), Dessie Conneely (Moycullen) for R. Finnerty (54), Dylan Canney (Corofin) for Comer (63), Dessie Conneely (Moycullen) for Kelly (68)
Scorers: Damien Comer (1-1); Robert Finnerty (1-0); Johnny Heaney (0-2); Kieran Molloy, Dylan McHugh, Paul Conroy, Matthew Tierney, Dessie Conneely (0-1 each)
Clare: Tristan O’Callaghan (St. Breckan’s); Manus Doherty (Éire Óg), Cillian Brennan (Clondegad), Cillian Rouine (Ennistymon); Alan Sweeney (St Breckan’s), Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora), Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis, Mayo); Ciaran Russell (Éire Óg), Darren O’Neill (Éire Óg); Padraic Collins (Cratloe), Eoin Cleary (St. Joseph’s Miltown), Aaron Griffin (Lissycasey); Jamie Malone (Corofin), Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane), David Tubridy (Doonbeg)
Subs: Emmet McMahon (Kildysart) for P. Collins (7, inj), Joe McGann (St. Breckan’s) for Sweeney (33, inj), Daniel Walsh (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Griffin (62), Gavin Cooney (Éire Óg) for Tubridy (62), Conor Jordan (Austin Stacks, Kerry) for Rouine (62, inj)
Scorers: Cillian Rouine (1-0); Eoin Cleary (0-2, 1f); David Tubridy (m), Keelan Sexton (f), Jamie Malone (0-1 each)
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)