All-Ireland SHC R2: Kelly inspires Clare to victory over Wexford
All-Ireland SHC Round 2 Qualifier
All-Ireland senior hurling championship R2 Qualifier
CLARE 1-21 WEXFORD 0-17
By Ronan Fagan at MW Hire O’Moore Park
Tony Kelly produced another peerless display at MW Hire O’Moore Park, Portlaoise on Saturday afternoon as Clare laid waste to the ambitions of 2019 semi-finalists Wexford to confidently advance to the All-Ireland SHC quarter-finals.
Kelly struck 1-15, including a couple of gems in a five point haul from play, and the number 9 was embraced afterwards by boss Brian Lohan who comfortably got the better of former All-Ireland-winning colleague turned bitter rival Davy Fitzgerald.
Clare were minus David McInerney through suspension, while Wexford started Jack O’Connor in place of joint-captain Lee Chin who was held in reserve following a hamstring scare.
The early exchanges were tight as Tony Kelly (free) and Cathal Malone sandwiched Wexford points from Conor McDonald and Paudie Foley (free) to tie matters on 0-2 apiece after 12 minutes.
But wind assisted Clare were unfortunate with a couple of goaling chances, as Wexford ‘keeper Mark Fanning foiled a kicked attempt from Colin Guilfoyle on five minutes and also thwarted Ryan Taylor at the expense of a ‘65.
But Clare began to impose their greater will on matters as Kelly converted two more placed-balls to fashion a 0-4 to 0-2 gap at the first water break.
And while Rory O’Connor ended a thirteen minute Wexford drought when pegging it back to 0-5 to 0-3 after 20 minutes, Clare continued to boss matters as they responded with eight unanswered points.
Tony Kelly had filled his boots through Wexford indiscipline in their league encounter earlier in the year, and Wexford didn’t appear to learn from those failings as the Ballyea ace again capitalised to telling effect once.
Indeed, he had a handsome 0-10 to his credit by half-time having added six further scores - including two audacious finishes from play out of the left corner - to power the Banner County clear by 0-13 to 0-3 at half-time.
Wexford resisted the temptation to make personnel changes for the restart, but Clare didn’t, as Diarmuid Ryan came in for Colin Guilfoyle and made an instant impact, when stretching the margin to 0-14 to 0-3 after 40 seconds.
Another lengthy Wexford scoring impasse – measuring almost 30 minutes – was ended with a quality Rory O’Connor point from the extreme left after 40 minutes.
Wexford tried to muster something as Shaun Murphy and Paul Morris (two frees) shaved the gap to 0-15 to 0-7 after 47 minutes.
But any glimmers of hope were kept in check by a Tony Kelly response after 51 minutes, and he burst through from a break on the ’45 as Shane O’Donnell fed him before Kelly launched to the net for a commanding 1-17 to 0-9 advantage after 56 minutes.
Wexford gamely tried to salvage their season, but they were left with too much ground to make up and failed to carve out any significant goaling chances as Clare deservedly extend their campaign into the All-Ireland series following a disappointing 2019.
Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly 1-15 (0-8 frees, 0-1 ‘65), Justin McCarthy 0-2, Cathal Malone, Colin Guilfoyle, Diarmuid Ryan, David Fitzgerald 0-1 each.
Scorers for Wexford: Paul Morris 0-6 (5 frees), Paudie Foley (one free), Shaun Murphy 0-3 each, Rory O’Connor 0-2, Conor McDonald, David Dunne, Kevin Foley 0-1 each.
CLARE: Eibhear Quilligan; Seadna Morey, Conor Cleary, Rory Hayes; Stephen O’Halloran, Aidan McCarthy, Patrick O’Connor; Jason McCarthy, Tony Kelly (capt.); Cathal Malone, David Reidy, Ryan Taylor; Colin Guilfoyle, Shane O’Donnell, David Fitzgerald. Subs: Diarmuid Ryan for Guilfoyle (HT); Páidí Fitzpatrick for J. McCarthy (60); Aaron Cunningham for Reidy (68); Cathal McInerney for Taylor (70+4).
WEXFORD: Mark Fanning; Simon Donohoe, Liam Ryan, Joe O’Connor; Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Shaun Murphy, Paudie Foley; Matthew O’Hanlon (capt.), Aidan Nolan; Liam Óg McGovern, Conor McDonald, Paul Morris; Kevin Foley, Rory O’Connor, Jack O’Connor. Subs: Damien Reck for Donohoe (38); Lee Chin for Jack O’Connor (56); Mikey Dwyer for McGovern (57); David Dunne for Nolan (61); Shane Reck for Joe O’Connor (65).
REFEREE: Liam Gordon (Galway).