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Keelan Sexton starred for Clare against Kildare at Cusack Park.
Keelan Sexton starred for Clare against Kildare at Cusack Park.

Allianz FL D2: Clare claim vital victory

Allianz Football League Division Two


By Cian O’Connell at Cusack Park, Ennis

Ultimately this turned into one of those deeply satisfying hard earned wins for Clare.

Under duress following an opening round loss to Westmeath, Colm Collins extracted a gutsy performance with Kildare left to reflect on a failure to build on a solid foundation which had been established at the outset.

While Clare’s desire was a key factor, class was also attached to the success with Gearoid O’Brien and Keelan Sexton’s combined total of seven points from play carrying real significance in such a tight and tense encounter.

Cian O’Dea, also made a telling contribution in a withdrawn role for Clare, who celebrated furiously when the Kildare scalp was taken in the driving Ennis wind and rain.

Though the conditions were testing Kildare still enjoyed a productive start accumulating a 0-5 to 0-2 advantage by the end of the first quarter.

There was plenty to admire initially, Daniel Flynn a ball winner and turnover forcer inside, while Niall Kelly also thumped over a gorgeous effort from distance.

Still Clare remain a rugged and determined outfit under Colm Collins’ passionate direction so the Banner improved as the match wore on.

A David Tubridy free was followed by a sweet Eoin Cleary point as Clare narrowed the gap before Paddy Brophy rifled over his second delightful point.

Again the Clare riposte was packed with honest determination as sandwiched either side of Paul Cribbin’s black card were points from Keelan Sexton and Cleary (free).

It meant the teams departed at the break deadlocked at 0-6 each, with both teams accruing those totals from nine attempts each. Those statistics captured how tough it was under a grim grey sky.

When the action recommenced the script was similar with Clare relishing the battle, especially when falling two points behind.

Kevin Feely stroked over two scores for Kildare, but Clare, prompted by the hugely effective O’Dea, repeatedly thwarted the visitors’.

At the opposite end Clare were being wonderfully efficient nailing five of their first six second half scoring attempts.

O’Brien and Sexton were splendid during this burst which once more confirmed the resilience and application of Colm Collins’ charges.

Kildare's cause wasn't aided by the dismissal of Paddy Brophy in the 58th minute for a second yellow card offence when the teams were deadlocked. Within seconds Sexton had added a gorgeous point as Clare seized the initiative.

With seven minutes remaining Clare edged 0-11 to 0-9 in front before the inevitable late Kildare rally arrived. A 15 minute search for a Lilywhite score was terminated in stoppage time when Feely converted a free.

It wasn’t enough, though, as Clare’s passion earned the full complement of spoils.

Scorers for Clare: Keelan Sexton 0-4, Gearoid O’Brien and Eoin Cleary (1f) 0-3 each, David Tubridy 0-1 (f).

Scorers for Kildare: Kevin Feely 0-4 (2fs), Paddy Brophy and Neil Flynn (2fs) 0-2 each, Niall Kelly and Jack Robinson 0-1 each.

CLARE: Stephen Ryan; Kevin Hartnett, Cillian Brennan, Gordon Kelly; Sean Collins, Pearse Lillis, Dean Ryan; Ciaran Russell, Cathal O’Connor; Gearoid O’Brien, Keelan Sexton, Dermot Coughlan; Eoin Cleary, David Tubridy, Cian O’Dea.

Subs: Emmet McMahon for O’Connor (53), Cormac Murray for Coughlan (59), Eoin Collins for Ryan (70+2).

KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Peter Kelly, Mick O'Grady, Eoin Doyle; Con Kavanagh, Johnny Byrne, Shea Ryan; Kevin Feely, Liam Power; Paul Cribbin, Niall Kelly, Paddy Brophy; Jack Robinson, Daniel Flynn, Neil Flynn.

Subs: Kevin Flynn for P Kelly (17), Keith Cribbin for N Flynn (HT), Jimmy Hyland for Robinson (45), Adam Tyrrell for P Cribbin (57), John Treacy for N Kelly (63).

REFEREE: Barry Judge (Sligo).

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