Clare's Gavin Cooney surrounded by Laois' Gareth Dillon and Robert Pigott at Cusack Park.
Clare's Gavin Cooney surrounded by Laois' Gareth Dillon and Robert Pigott at Cusack Park.

Allianz FL D2 South: Clare impress in Ennis

Allianz Football League Division Two South

CLARE 1-16 LAOIS 0-12

By Eoin Brennan at Cusack Park

Clare got the new season off to an impressive start after brushing aside the challenge of Laois in their opening Division 2 South tie in Cusack Park, Ennis.

Mike Quirke’s side edged a thrilling seesaw contest by the minimum in the corresponding fixture 15 months earlier at the same venue but there was no doubting the result this time as Clare led from start to finish in commanding fashion.

Captain Eoin Cleary provided a constant stream of points to end the day with 10 points, but it was the impact of newcomer Daniel Walsh that caught the eye most as the debutant wing-back managed to raid for 1-2. 

Indeed, it was his 27th minute goal that proved decisive in finally putting clear daylight between the sides as an incisive move involving Cleary, Pearse Lillis and Gavin Cooney was played into the Kilmurry Ibrickane clubman’s path to find the top right corner of the net at 1-7 to 0-3.

Clare could have doubled their bounty from the kick-out through Darragh Bohannon only for goalkeeper Niall Corbet to make amends with a point blank save. Cleary duly converted the ’45 so despite late free in riposte from Corbet and top-scorer Donie Kingston, Clare still held a six point cushion by the break at 1-8 to 0-5.

Despite now facing into the conditions, Clare incrementally stretched their advantage as the second half progressed as a frustrated Laois simply couldn’t blow off the lockdown cobwebs.

Cleary continued to show his full array of scoring talents from play, frees and even a sumptuous lineball from the left wing while Walsh, Pearse Lillis and substitute David Tubridy only added to Laois’ woes to carve out a ten point cushion as the tie petered out to its inevitable conclusion.

The visitors did kick the last three points but by then, the result was beyond any doubt as Clare handed further debuts to Ikem Ugwueru and Aaron Griffin from the bench on their way to an encouraging finish to their home double header with the hurlers.

Scorers for Clare: Eoin Cleary 0-10 (5fs, 1m, 1’45, 1sl), Daniel Walsh 1-2, Keelan Sexton (m), Cathal O’Connor, David Tubridy (f), Pearse Lillis 0-1 each.

*Scorers for Laois: *Donie Kingston 0-4 (2fs), Gary Walsh 0-3 (2fs), Evan O’Carroll (1m), Niall Corbet (f), Paul Kingston, Brian Byrne, Colm Begley 0-1 each.

*CLARE: *Stephen Ryan; Ciaran Russell, Cillian Brennan, Eoghan Collins; Cian O’Dea, Sean Collins, Daniel Walsh; Darren O’Neill, Cathal O’Connor;Darragh Bohannon, Eoin Cleary, Pearse Lillis; Gavin Cooney, Jamie Malone, Keelan Sexton. 

Subs: Joe McGann for Malone (4, inj), David Tubridy for Sexton (HT), Alan Sweeney for E. Collins (54), Emmet McMahon for O’Neill (54), Aaron Griffin for Cooney (63), Ikem Ugwueru for O’Dea (66), Cormac Murray for Lillis (66)

*LAOIS: *Niall Corbet; Robert Pigott, Mark Timmons, Gareth Dillon; Trevor Collins, Colm Begley, Paddy O’Sullivan; Kieran Lillis, John O’Loughlin; Eoin Lowry, Paul Kingston, Daniel O’Reilly; Mark Barry, Donie Kingston, Evan O’Carroll. 

Subs: Gary Walsh for O’Reilly (HT), Brian Byrne for Lowry (46), Brian Daly for Lillis (54), Michael Keogh for Barry (54), Eoin Buggie for Collins (62), Ross Munnelly for P. Kingston (66), Shane Bolger for Timmons (66)

*REFEREE: *Sean Lonergan (Tipperary).