The Clare strike force of Eoin Hayes and David McCarthy ran amok in the Oscar Traynor final, tearing the Leinster Senior League’s defence to ribbons at Crumlin.
McCarthy was named man of the match which was hardly surprising as he scored four of the goals, but Hayes was equally important to Clare’s victory. He scored the other goal from a penalty, provided assists for three of McCarthy’s goals and his movement frightened the life out of the Leinster Senior League rearguard.
Even supporters of the home side were quick to praise Hayes, who was frequently on a different level to all around him.
Clare were also assisted by a piece of indiscipline by Leinster’s Eoin Lanigan, who was sent off early in the second half after a completely pointless kick out at Clare captain Paddy Purcell. Clare would also finish the game with ten, following an injury to Hayes after all their substitutions had been used, but by the time he exited in the 80th minute the outcome was all but decided.
Clare started without Darren Murphy who was injured in the warm up, and Alan Kelly came into midfield with Stephen Kelly dropping back to centre half, alongside Purcell.
The visitors began well, but hadn’t created any real chances before the sixth minute, when McCarthy whipped in a free from the left and Darragh Corry was upended in the box. Hayes took the spot kick and calmly dispatched a low drive to the corner of the net.
Just before the quarter hour the lead was two, McCarthy providing the finish after an excellent through ball from Hayes. It was a brilliant start for Clare, building up a substantial lead before the Dublin side had even settled.
However while the Leinster Senior League may have been reeling, they were back in the game six minutes later, after some poor Clare defending.
It began when a miskick from left back Eoin O’Brien which resulted in a corner. It was swung into the box and when Stephen Kelly attempted to clear he sliced it and the ball eventually ended up at the feet of Eoin Lanigan. He went to ground somewhat dramatically, but referee David Jameson awarded a rather dubious penalty, and Chris Straessle put it away.
That was how it stayed until the break, and just after the resumption Lanigan was red carded. It was now poised for Clare to drive on and in the 55th minute they got a superb third goal.
The move began outside their own box when full back Darryl Eade broke up an attack. He passed to Colin Smyth who made an excellent run deep into opposition territory before passing to Hayes. The Newmarket man delivered a precise cross from the right for McCarthy who made it 3-1 .
Down to ten men and trailing by two goals it looked like there was no way back for the home side, but they kept fighting. On 64 minutes they got one back, when Straessle sent an absolutely wonderful strike from outside the box right into the top corner of Barry Ryan’s net. Indeed they were almost on terms three minutes later, when sub Daniel Loughran hit the post from a free kick.
While it was almost levelled then, Clare closed out the game with two McCarthy strikes in the 73rd and 76th minutes. The first one came when McCarthy took a pass from Eade, held off a defender and finished clinically. For the second one Hayes was again the provider and McCarthy finished to the roof of the net from close range.
Hayes was taken off injured with ten minutes left, but it was too late for the home side to make a comeback and the game petered out in the closing minutes as Clare ambled to a comprehensive and deserved win.
Leinster Senior League: Evan Gaffney, Ian Cloone, Carl Redmond, Derek Griffin, Graham Dixon, Brian Mooney, Chris Straessle, Dermot Kennedy, Eoin Lanigan, Ian Touhy, David Dempsey.
Subs: John Paul Reilly for Dempsey 56 mins, Daniel McGuinness for Mooney 65 mins, Daniel Loughran for Redmond 65 mins.
Clare League: Barry Ryan, Darryl Eade, Eoin O’Brien, Stephen Kelly, Paddy Purcell, Darragh Corry, Colin Smyth, Alan Kelly, Eoin Hayes, David McCarthy, Eoin Whelan.
Subs: Joe Collins for Whelan 63 mins, Brian Monaghan for Smyth 75 mins, Stephen Carroll for Purcell 79 mins.