Allianz HL D1: Clare overcome gutsy Laois
Allianz Hurling League Division 1
CLARE 0-17 LAOIS 0-09
By Eoin Brennan at Cusack Park, Ennis
Clare remain in pole position in Group B of the National Hurling League after finally brushing off Laois in a weather-beaten contest in Ennis this afternoon.
The full complement of conditions including hail, rain and thunder made it an arduous assignment for both sides but in the end, Clare's additional experience came to the fore as they finished with six of the last seven points to run out merited victors.
Despite facing into a storm, the home side were fronted by strong leadership displays from David Reidy, Tony Kelly and David McInerney along with a five point haul from their bench. Aron Shanagher certainly made the most of his 25 minute cameo with three points while fellow replacements Domhnall McMahon and Ian Galvin also got in on the scoring action to flesh out the final margin.
Such a handsome result didn't seem on the cards by the half hour mark when the wind-assisted hosts only led by 0-6 to 0-4. Tony Kelly's three point contribution helped Clare to a 0-5 to 0-1 advantage by the seventh minute but they would be put firmly on the backfoot when Laois finally found their feet through Ross King (2) and Willie Dunphy.
The elusive Kelly did provide some breathing space by the break however as three unanswered points carved out a 0-9 to 0-4 cushion but it didn't seem enough to be able to weather the storm.
Laois did have chances to eat into the deficit on the restart but successive goal opportunities for James Keyes and Willie Dunphy would be denied by debutants Eibhear Quilligan and Liam Corry.
Ryan Taylor and Stephen Bergin also had goal sightings thwarted at either end but Laois did gain some much needed momentum when Aaron Dunphy and Ross King lowered the arrears to three by the turn of the final quarter at 0-10 to 0-07.
Clare substitute Shanagher would intervene decisively though when grabbing three points in a five minute blitz to alleviate the pressure while Tony Kelly would finish the job with a late brace to protect Brian Lohan's perfect start to the Division 1 campaign.
*Scorers for Clare: *Tony Kelly (0-8, 5f); Aron Shanagher (0-3); Aaron Cunningham, Aidan McCarthy, Jack Browne, Domhnall McMahon, David Reidy, Ian Galvin (0-1 each)
Scorers for Laois: Ross King (0-5f); Willie Dunphy (0-2); Aaron Dunphy, Paddy Purcell (0-1 each)
CLARE: Eibhear Quilligan; Jack Browne, Shane Golden, Liam Corry; Stephen O'Halloran, Cathal Malone, Aidan McCarthy; David McInerney, Tony Kelly; David Reidy, David Fitzgerald, Seadna Morey; Ryan Taylor, Shane O'Donnell, Aaron Cunningham. Subs: Domhnall McMahon for Fitzgerald (32, inj), Aron Shanagher for Cunningham (45), Ian Galvin for Morey (47), Podge Collins for O'Donnell (56), Niall Deasy for Taylor (65)
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Frank Flanagan, Donnacha Hartnett, Diarmuid Conway; Padraig Delaney, Ryan Mullaney, Ciaran McEvoy; Colm Stapleton, Fiachra C-Fennell; Willie Dunphy, James Ryan, Paddy Purcell; Ross King, Stephen Bergin, James Keyes. *Subs: *John Lennon for Stapleton (10, inj), Matthew Whelan for Conway (44), Aaron Dunphy for Mullaney (44, inj), Ronan Broderick for Flanagan (59), Cian Taylor for Bergin (62, inj)
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)