Clare revel in late leveller drama
By John Harrington
A mixture of relief and pride summed up the mood in the Clare camp after today’s thrilling All-Ireland SHC semi-final against Galway.
Relief that they snatched a draw with the last puck of the match deep into injury-time of extra-time.
And pride that they had the character and self-belief to engineer the six-man move that ended with Jason McCarthy hitting the equaliser.
For Clare full-forward John Conlon, the leveller bore more than a passing resemblance to Domhnall O’Donovan’s famous late equaliser in the drawn All-Ireland SHC Final with Cork.
“We never gave up, but neither did Galway,” said O’Donovan after the match. “Look, it was fantastic stuff, it was exhilarating. At the end, James Skehill and myself were in around the square with a minute to go and we just said no one deserves to lose this.
“Thankfully Jason got that great score at the end. It had similarities to Domhnall’s score. Lads were working it up the field, it just shows the subs who came on, I think David Fitzgerald was involved as well.
“Just to have that composure and leadership from them to go on and do that in the last puck of the ball meant a lot to us. Hopefully it will give us a big push for next week.”
You wouldn’t have bet on Clare drawing this match when they trailed Galway by 1-7 to 0-1 after 16 minutes.
But the tactical switch that saw Colm Galvin given a sweeping role in front of his under pressure full-back line fundamentally altered the flow of the game and saw Clare come roaring back into the contest.
“Yeah, Colm got on a lot of ball,” said Clare joint-manager Donal Moloney after the game.
“Very, very intelligent hurler and he uses it very well. He showed great leadership, as did many, many others on the field from both sides. Both sides were magnificent today.
“In the first quarter of an hour Galway had terrific momentum. They obviously did that to Kilkenny in the Leinster final replay and we had planned for that and thought about it but executing it is different.
“Galway were in full flow during that period. We had never had any real doubt we were going to bring this thing back though, we never had any doubt about our boys.”
Clare took the lead for the very first time at the start of the second period of extra-time when Aron Shanagher struck for a brilliant goal.
That he was on the pitch to do so is a testament to his powers of recovery because when he ruptured a cruciate ligament last November the presumption was that he wouldn’t hurl for Clare at all this year.
“It's pretty amazing,” said Moloney. “As cruciate ligament recuperations go it's incredible. That was one of his trademarks in terms of that catch and turn and bang. He's a very, very driven young man.”
Clare will go into next Sunday's replay at Semple Stadium in a positive frame of mind, but Moloney knows that match will be another ferocious battle.
“Yeah, but look, I’m sure Galway will have huge belief as well,” he said. “They actually hung in there when momentum shifted against them, Our boys have taken a lot of criticism over the years which we have always deemed very unfair, even in Davy’s time they have taken huge criticism because they are the most professional group of young men I have ever seen it is a privilege to be associated with them.
“We like Thurles and I’m sure Galway so as well. We have great memories and great days so it will probably be bumper attendance I’m sure.”