Clare 3-12 Louth 1-11
FOLLOWING their seven point win over Louth in Cusack Park on Sunday, Clare guaranteed themselves division 2 status in the 2019 national football league. In what was their first home win of the campaign, Clare were never seriously troubled by Louth who have been relegated to division three. Clare finished on eight points in the table, three more than their 2017 total. The key results in this years campaign were away to Down and Cork, while they drew at home to Cavan and Tipperary.
Goals at the start and end of the opening half were pivotal in helping Clare to a relatively comfortable win.
Jamie Malone goaled after just 11 seconds, having been put through by a Gary Brennan free. The free was won by Cathal O’Connnor who was fouled immediately after the throw in. Just before the interval whistle, Clare wing forward, Kieran Malone slotted home his first goal of the campaign, which helped the home county into a 3-7 to 0-6 half-time lead.
Five minutes before that full forward, Keelan Sexton, raised Clare’s second green flag, following excellent build up play involving Jamie Malone and top scorer Eoin Cleary.
While Louth looked short on confidence, they could have goaled just before half-time when Ross Nally’s shot was superbly blocked by Clare corner back, Aaron Fitzgerald.
The Pete McGrath managed Wee County had their best spell immediately after half-time when Tommy Durnin scored their only goal, after sloppy Clare defending.
Andy McDonnell added a point to pull Louth within six points of the home team but that was as near as they got.
Eoin Cleary put over 0-4 of his tally in the second half while Kieran Malone was the only other Clare player to score in the second period.
Louth substitute, Tadhg McEneaney scored 0-2 while Durnin and Declan Byrne added points for the men in red.
Clare held out for an ultimately comfortable win, which confirms that they will play division 2 league football, for a third successive year.
On an afternoon when they did not have to produce their absolute best, Cathal O’Connor, Cian O’Dea and Seán O’Donoghue did well for Colm Collins’ team.
Clare: Eamonn Tubridy; Cian O’Dea, Cillian Brennan, Aaron Fitgerald; Seán O’Donoghue, Pearse Lillis, Sean Collins; Gary Brennan, Cathal O’Connor (0-1); Kieran Malone (1-2), Eoin Cleary (0-8, 6f), Jamie Malone (1-0); Conor Finucane (0-1), Keelan Sexton (1-0), David Tubridy.
Subs: Conal O’ hÁinféin for Aaron Fitzgerald (half-time), Gearóid O’Brien for Conor Finucane (half-time), Ciaran Russell for David Tubridy (46), Darragh Bohannon for Cathal O’Connor (56), Alan Sweeney for Seán Collins (59), Eimhin Courtney for Keelan Sexton (65).
Frees won: 17
Yellow cards: Jamie Malone, Cathal O’Connor
Louth: Craig Lynch; Fergal Donohue, Emmet Carolan, James Craven; Eoghan Lafferty, Bevan Duffy (0-1), Anthony Williams; Tommy Durnin (1-1), Declan Byrne (0-2); Derek Maguire (0-1f), Andy McDonnell (0-2, 1f),, Gerard McSorley; Ryan Burns, Conor Grimes (0-1), William Woods.
Subs: Ross Nally (0-1) for Ryan Burns (30), James Stewart for James Craven, Ciaran Downey for Gerard McSorley, Tadhg McEneaney (0-2, 1f) for William Woods (all 54), Ronan Holcroft for Derek Maguire (60).
Frees won: 14
Yellow cards: Derek Maguire, Gerard McSorley, Tommy Durnin, Fergal Donohue.
Referee: Derek O’Mahony (Tipperary).