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Clare manager Colm Collins. Photograph by John Kelly.

McGrath seals sensational win for Clare footballers

Clare 0-14 Laois 1-10

SHANE McGrath was the Clare match winner in Cusack Park on Sunday afternoon, when he showed exceptional bottle and skill to kick Clare to a famous round two All-Ireland qualifier win over Laois. McGrath’s point, kicked in the 70th minute, helped Clare to just their fifth qualifier win in 18 games, since 2001. They will now play Cavan, Derry or Sligo next Saturday. The round 3 A draw will be made at 8.30am on Monday morning.

This win was all the more commendable because 16 minutes into the second half, Darren Strong kicked Laois into a 1-10 to 0-9 lead. However that was the last time Laois scored as Clare substitutes McGrath and Seánie Malone, kicked invaluable points as did corner back Shane Hickey, who started in place of Dean Ryan.

A Stephen Attride goal, six minute before half-time, was the score which divided the teams at the interval. The wing back picked finished a popped pass from Donie Kingston and helped the Mick Lillis managed team to lead 1-7 to 0-7 after 35 minutes, in a match attended by 2,106 people.

Jamie Malone kicked three superb points for Clare in that opening half, while Eoin Cleary pointed two frees. Keelan Sexton and Cathal O’Connor added a point each in that half.

Clare didn’t produce the perfect display but their management made what turned out to be good changes when they replaced David Tubridy and Cathal O’Connor with Shane McGrath and Podge Collins, while Seanie Malone was barely on the field when he kicked a 67th minute equaliser. McGrath followed with the winner and Clare players celebrated in a very wet Cusack Park with their delirious supporters. Having won promotion to division 2 of the NFL earlier this year and also claimed the division 3 league title, Clare are now just 70 minutes away from the last 12 of the championship.

For a detailed match report, analysis and post match interviews, read Thursday’s Clare Champion.

Clare: Joe Hayes (Lissycasey); Shane Hickey (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Kevin Harnett (Meelick), Martin McMahon (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Seán Collins (Cratloe), Gordon Kelly (St Joseph’s, Miltown), Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora); Gary Brennan (Clondegad-captain), Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen); Eoin Cleary ((Miltown), Jamie Malone (Corofin), Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare); Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane), David Tubridy (Doonbeg), Pat Burke (Kilmacud Crokes).

Subs: Dean Ryan (Éire Óg) for Pat Burke (half-time), Podge Collins (Cratloe) for David Tubridy (47), Enda Coughlan (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Keelan Sexton (54), Shane McGrath (Thomas Davis) for Cathal O’Connor (55), Seánie Malone (St Joseph’s, Miltown) for Pearse Lillis, David Tubridy for Jamie Malone (BC-74).

Scorers: Eoin Cleary (0-4f), Jamie Malone (0-3), Gary Brennan (f), Keelan Sexton, Cathal O’Connor, David Tubridy (f), Shane Hickey, Seánie Malone, Shane McGrath (0-1 each).

Laois: Graham Brody; Damien O’Connor, Mark Timmons, Gearóid Hanrahan; Stephen Attride, Kieran Lillis, Darren Strong; Brendan Quigley, John O’Loughlin; Kevin Meaney, Donie Kingston (captain), Paul Cahillane; Conor Mederith, Colm Belgey, David Conway.

Subs: Alan Farrell for Darren Strong (BC-41), Matthew Campion for Colm Begley (45), Gary Walsh for David Conway (49), Ross Munnelly for Paul Cahillane (57), Jamie Farrell for Kevin Meaney (62).

Scorers: John O’Loughlin (0-3), Donie Kingston (0-3, 2f) Stephen Attride (1-0), Conor Meredith, David Conway, Darren Strong, Paul Cahillane (f) (0-1 each).

Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo).

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