By Seamus Hayes
Westmeath 3-9 Clare 2-8
While Clare’s under 21 footballers showed improved form from their first round loss to Roscommon a week earlier, defeat was still their lot when they hosted Westmeath at Miltown on Saturday in round 2 of the Hastings cup under 21 football competition. The Banner side will complete their programme in this competition on Friday next when they will play Kildare under lights at St. Patricks GAA grounds in Limerick city.
Clare got off to a dream start on Saturday when Jamie Malone goaled in the second minute but they failed to build on this and the visitors hit back with five unanswered points to lead by two at the end of the first quarter.
A point each from midfielders Ciaran Devitt and Conor Cleary levelled the game and the teams went on to exchange points with Martin O’Leary’s effort for the home side leaving the half time score at 1-3 to 0-6.
In the second minute of the new half Jamie Malone again found the net having won possession when Martin O’Leary’s effort rebounded off the upright but, again, the visitors response was impressive, hitting 2-2 without reply in the next ten minutes.
Eoin Cleary (free) and Ciaran Devitt replied with points for Clare but Westmeath’s third goal, with eleven minutes to play, proved to be the killer blow. To their credit, Clare battled to the end and hit three unanswered points but, overall, Westmeath were the better side and deserved their four point victory.
Clare; Darren Sexton (Kilmurry-Ibrickane); Conor Gavin (Clondegad), Conor Brennan (Eire Og ) 0-1, Jack O’Dea (Kilfenora); Craig O’Brien (Wolfe Tones) Enda Ralph (Ennistymon), Stan Lineern (Kilmihil); Ciaran Devitt (Ennistymon) 0-2, Conor Cleary (Miltown St. Josephs) 0-1; Luke Brannock (St. Josephs, (Doora-Barefield), Liam Corry (Eire Og), Darragh Bolton (Kilrush); Jamie Malone (Corofin) 2-1, Eoin Brew (O’Currys), Martin O’Leary (Kilmihil) 0-1;
Subs–Darragh McDonagh (Miltown St. Josephs) for Brannock (half time); Tadhg Lynch (Clondegd) for Gavin; Eoin Cleary (Miltown St. Josephs)n 0-1, free for Corry (both 40 minutes); Dale Masterson (St. Breckans) 0-1 for Brew (inj.) 43 minutes; Eoin O’Connor (Coolmeen) for Bolton (inj.) 58 minutes);