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David Tubridy was Clare's top scorer in Armagh. Photograph by John Kelly.

Heartbreak for Clare in Armagh

Armagh 2-16 Clare 1-15

When David Tubridy goaled for Clare with just under two minutes of normal time remaining, Clare were four points clear in this round 3 football qualifier tie and they looked set to be in Monday morning’s draw for round 4.

It was clear that there would be considerable ‘injury time’ as there had been a number of stoppages in the half but patrons in the official attendance of 5,429 must have fancied the Banner outfit at this stage.

It wasn’t to be and in the remaining time—-there were seven minutes of ‘additional time—Armagh dominated and scored 1-5 without reply to secure a somewhat flattering four point victory.

It was heartbreak for Clare who had held the upperhand for much of a tie played in extreme heat at Armagh’s Athletic grounds. When Clare sit down to review this one they are likely to point to missed chances when they were in control as reasons for this loss.

There were two key incidents in the second half which saw Clare lose two influential defenders in the space of five minutes.

Goalkeeper Robert Eyers who took over from the injured Eamonn Tubridy, suffered a leg injury fifteen minutes into the second period and was unable to contine. He was replaced by Killian Roche. Five minutes later Cian O’Des was blackcarded and the Clare backline never functioned with the same authority after the loss of both Eyers and O’Dea.

Armagh made the better start to this tie and they were 0-4 to 0-1 in front after eleven minutes. Then Clare took a grip on proceedings and they landed the next five points on their way to a two point lead at half time when the score was 0-9 to 0-7. Armagh should have scored more in the opening quarter when their efforts to deliver ball to captain Rory Grugan who was their only player in the full forward line, failed on a number of occasions as the ball was over hit and went wide.

As the half wore Clare had chances which they failed to convert but they were full value for their two point interval advantage.

The opening ten minutes of the secondhalf produced just one point each but then Clare took a grip on proceedings and hit three unanswered points to lead by five at the three quarter stage. Having lost Eyers and O’Dea, Clare were dealt another blow when Armagh struck for a goal with fourteen minutes to go and this cut Clare’s lead to the minimim.

Clare responded with a brace to go three clear with ten minutes to go. Back came Armagh with a brace and the minimum was again the margin with three minutes remaining.

It looked to be Clare’s day a minute later when they were awarded a penalty. David Tubridy’s effort was saved by Blaine Hughes but Doonbeg man Tubridy was following up and he blasted to the net and Clare were four clear.

Armagh refused to concede and their substitutes were making a big impact at this stage. As the game went into injury time one of their substitutes, Joe McElroy got their second goal which levelled the tie and they dominated the remaining minutes and hit four points to end Clare’s season.

Armagh; Blaine Hughes; Patrick Burns, Aaron McKay Gregory McCabe; Mark Shields; Brendan Donaghy, Aidan Forker (0-1); Charlie Vernon (0-1); Connaire Mackin; Rory Grugan (0-6), Jemar Hall, Niall Grimley (0-4); Ryan McShane (0-1).Andrew Murnin (1-1), Stephen Sheridan;

Subs; Joe McElroy (1-0) for Sheridan; Gavin McPartland (0-1) for Hall

Clare; Robert Eyers; Gordon Kelly, Cillian Brennan,Eoghan Collins; Cian O’Dea. Aaron Fitzgerald, Pearce Lillis (0-2); Gary Brennan, Cathal O’Connor (0-1);Kieran Malone, Eoin Cleary (0-3), Jamie Malone (0-3); Eimhin Courtney (0-2),Keelan Sexton (0-1), David Tubridy (1-3)

Subs; Kevin Harnett for Collins; Killian Roche for Eyers (inj); Gearoid O’Brien for Fitzgerald; Conail O h-Ainifein for O’Dea (black card); Gavin Cooney for Sexton;

Referee—Fergal Kelly. Longford;

By Seamus Hayes

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