Allianz HL D1: Clare advance to semi-finals
Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B
CLARE 0-27 DUBLIN 1-15
By Eoin Brennan at Cusack Park, Ennis
A direct passage to the Allianz National League Semi-Finals was Clare's reward for maintaining their unbeaten start following a commanding final group victory over Dublin..
Under new manager Brian Lohan, Clare's newfound confidence was clear throughout as despite a late first half blip in which Dublin regained parity by the break, the home side never looked back on the restart to carve out a nine point win with the aid of the conditions.
Nine different scorers included dominant midfield duo Tony Kelly and David McInerney who combined for 16 points while substitutes Aron Shanagher and Gary Cooney also got in on the scoring action before the finish.
Donal Burke was Dublin's chief marksman from the outset, firing three points in as many minutes of the throw-in to give his side a 0-3 to 0-1 lead. However, the visitors would be put firmly on the backfoot over the next 15 minutes as Clare responded with an eight point unanswered rally including braces for Kelly, McInerney and Domhnall McMahon at 0-9 to 0-3.
Nothing but a handsome interval home advantage appeared on the cards entering the final minutes until substitute Eamon Dillon put a spanner in the works with an unstoppable shot to the bottom right corner of the net as Dublin bounded into the break on level terms at 0-11 to 1-08.
Clare welcomed the wind and all the momentum in the second period, with Kelly's consistent series of frees ensuring that the Banner always looked comfortable. Éire Óg pair Shane O'Donnell and David Reidy grabbed two points apiece while captain John Conlon along with replacements Shanagher and Cooney also got off the mark before Kelly finished with three placed balls to flesh out the final margin and top Group B.
A three week break now awaits Clare as they prepare for a first National League Semi-Final since winning the competition in 2016.
Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly 0-12 (10fs, 1'65), David McInerney 0-4, Shane O'Donnell 0-3, Domhnall McMahon, David Reidy 0-2 each, Diarmuid Ryan, Aron Shanagher, John Conlon, Gary Cooney 0-1 each.
Scorers for Dublin: Donal Burke 0-10 (6fs), Eamon Dillon 1-0, Paul Crummey 0-2, Jake Malone, Daire Gray, Ronan Hayes 0-1 each.
CLARE: Eibhear Quilligan; Jack Browne, Conor Cleary, Liam Corry; Cathal Malone, Patrick O'Connor, Paidi Fitzpatrick; David McInerney, Tony Kelly; Diarmuid Ryan, David Reidy, Domhnall McMahon; Ryan Taylor, John Conlon, Shane O'Donnell.
Subs: Aron Shanagher for Cunningham (43), Gary Cooney for Taylor (58), Kevin Hehir for McMahon (63), Podge Collins for O'Donnell (65), Rory Hayes for Fitzpatrick (69).
*DUBLIN: *Alan Nolan; Paddy Smyth, Eoghan O'Donnell, Andrew Dunphy; Paul Crummey, Jake Malone, Daire Gray; Riain McBride, Sean Moran; Danny Sutcliffe, Donal Burke, Fiontán McGibb; Ronan Hayes, David Keogh, Mark Schutte.
*Subs: *Eamon Dillon for Moran (26), Alex O'Neill for Dunphy (50), Paul Ryan for Sutcliffe (54), John Hetherton for Schutte (60), Liam Rushe for McBride (65).
REFEREE: David Hughes (Carlow).