Allianz Football League Division Two
Clare 1-13 Offaly 0-7
By Eoin Brennan at Cusack Park (from www.gaa.ie)
Contrasting experience certainly told in Cusack Park, Ennis when hosts Clare powered to their biggest Allianz League victory in three years at the expense of newcomers Offaly.
John Maughan’s return to the Banner county, 30 years on from Clare’s famous Munster Final triumph over Kerry, wasn’t as memorable, for the visitors at least. Despite an encouraging start, backed by a sizeable gale, Offaly would be outmuscled by 1-12 to 0-02 in the final 45 minutes.
Bernard Allen kicked three superb points as the Faithful County found their rhythm early to move 0-5 to 0-1 clear by the 23rd minute.
However, five wides allied to a Banner backlash ensured that the margin was slashed to just one by half-time following successive frees through Keelan Sexton (2) and Eoin Cleary at 0-5 to 0-4.
Alan Sweeney also had a goal denied on the line by wing-forward Dylan Hyland but Clare would receive a fortuitous break only two minutes into the new half when Darragh Bohannon’s effort for a point dipped into the left corner of the net.
That goal not only lifted Clare into the lead for the first time but also provided the catalyst for a dominant second period with chief threats Eoin Cleary (2), Pearse Lillis, David Tubridy and Sexton extending the gap to six by the turn of the final quarter at 1-9 to 0-6.
Not content with that, fresh legs from the bench provided a new impetus as replacements Jamie Malone (2) and Ciaran Downes tacked on further scores in additional time to complete a handsome victory.
Clare’s last nine point victory came at the same venue against Cork in 2019, with the Rebels up next in Páirc Uí Chaoimh next Saturday (7pm) in a unique double header with the Division 1 hurling opener between the Munster rivals.
Scorers for Clare: Keelan Sexton (4f) 0-4, Eoin Cleary (2f) 0-3, Darragh Bohannon 1-0, Pearse Lillis 0-2, Jamie Malone 0-2, David Tubridy 0-1, Ciaran Downes 0-1
Scorers for Offaly: Bernard Allen 0-3, Ruairi McNamee 0-1, Dylan Hyland 0-1, Lee Pearson 0-1, Paddy Dunican (f) 0-1
Clare: Stephen Ryan; Manus Doherty, Cillian Brennan, Cillian Rouine; Cian O’Dea, Ciaran Russell, Alan Sweeney; Cathal O’Connor, Darren O’Neill; Darragh Bohannon, Eoin Cleary, Pearse Lillis; David Tubridy, Keelan Sexton, Aaron Griffin
Subs: Podge Collins for Tubridy (55), Eoghan Collins for Rouine (55), Jamie Malone for Griffin (57), Daniel Walsh for Russell (65), Ciaran Downes for O’Neill (71).
Offaly: Paddy Dunican; Niall Darby, James Lalor, Lee Pearson; Ciaran Donnely, Johnny Moloney, Cian Donohue; Jordan Hayes, Cathal Mangan; Bill Carroll, Anton Sullivan, Dylan Hyland; Ruairi McNamee, Niall McNamee, Bernard Allen
Subs: Cormac Egan for Carroll (HT), David Dempsey for Sullivan (HT), Declan Hogan for N. McNamee (HT), Jack Bryant for Hyland (49), Colm Doyle for Pearson (64), Rory Egan for Mangan (75).
Referee: Brendan Griffin (Kerry)