Venue: Gaelic Grounds, Drogheda.
Clare slumped to a disappointing six point defeat to Louth in Round Two of the Allianz National Football League after they failed to score for the last twenty eight minutes of the tie as their opponents hit nine scores without reply.
For Louth this is their first win of the year after losses to Kildare, Carlow and UCD in the O’Byrne Cup while Division 3 table-toppers Fermanagh edged out the Wee County by nine points last week in Round One.
Early points from David Tubridy and Shane Hickey gave Clare a two point lead with three minutes played. Colm Judge cut the gap before Tubridy and Hickey pointed again to extend Clare’s lead to three. Colin Kelly’s Louth hit four unanswered points in the space of six minutes to put them one ahead, the scores courtesy of Ryan Burns, Conor Grimes and Colm Judge.
Doonbeg man David Tubridy levelled proceedings on the eighteenth minute before Adrian Reid fired past Joe Hayes in the Clare net to leave three points between the sides. Colm Collins’ charges hit four points in succession from the boots of Shane McGrath, Tubridy and Shane Hickey to leave the Banner ahead by the minimum at the interval.
Immediately after the restart, Louth substitute Derek Maguire equalised. Shortly after, Clare retained the lead with points via Shane McGrath and David Tubridy. After passing a late fitness test, Podge Collins entered the fray three minutes into the second half as a result of a black card for Ciarán Russell.
With forty minutes on the clock, Colm Judge pointed for the Wee County, the Banner responded with efforts from McGrath and Tubridy sailing between the posts. Incidentally Tubridy’s point on the forty second minute turned out to be Clare’s last score in the affair.
Despite being down three points, Louth regrouped and hit nine points without reply to secure the all important two points and get their League campaign off the mark. Four points from the boot of Ryan Burns along with efforts Adrian Reid, Conor Grimes, Shane O’Hanlon and two from Declan Byrne guaranteed the victory.
It’s back to the drawing board for Colm Collins and his management team of Ger Keane and Ephie Fitzgerald. Like their first round clash they coughed up possession too easily but unlike their league opener they got punished for it this time. For now they will work on these areas and improve on them for the next outing which takes place in three weeks versus Sligo at home in Cusack Park. Shane McGrath, Gordon Kelly and David Tubridy did well for the Banner.
A win was very important for Louth in this tie. First of all, it is their first win of 2015 and this milestone of sorts brings with it a number of positives, it will boost morale and confidence within the camp but it will also take some pressure off both the players and manager Colin Kelly. To their credit, Louth kept plugging away at stages when Clare were dominating and when their opposition faded, they took complete advantage. Ryan Burns, Colm Judge, Conor Grimes and Kevin Toner stood out for the winners. Next up for is a home tie against Wexford in three weeks.
Louth: Neil Gallagher (Cooley Kickhams), Kevin Toner (St Patricks), Patrick Reilly (Naomh Bríd), Pádraig Rath (Dreadnots), Derek Crilly (Dundalk Gaels), Dessie Finnegan (St Patricks), Darren O’Hanlon (St Patricks), Bevan Duffy (St Fechins), Eoin O’Connor (St Patricks), Adrian Reid (Mattock Rangers) (1-01), Daniel O’Connor (St Patricks), Daniel Byrne (Naomh Mochta) (0-02 1f), Ryan Burns (Hunterstown Rovers) (0-05 2f), Conor Grimes (Glen Emmets)(0-03), Colm Judge (Newtown Blues) (0-0 1f). Subs: Ruairí Moore (O’Rallhallans) for E O’Connor (H/T), Derek Maguire (Éire Óg) (0-01) for D O’Connor (H/T), Anthony Williams (Dreadnots) for Crilly, James Stewart (Dundalk Gaels) for O’Hanlon (55:36), Shane O’Hanlon (Dundalk Gaels) (0-01) for Reid (BC) (58:29).
Clare: Joe Hayes (Lissycasey), Stephen Collins (St Josephs Doora/Barefield), Dean Ryan (Éire Óg), Martin McMahon (Kilmurry/Ibrickane), Ciarán Russell (Éire Óg), Gordon Kelly (St Josephs Miltown), Jamie Malone (Corofin), Gary Brennan (Clondegad), Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen), Seán Collins (Cratloe), Shane Hickey (Kilmurry/Ibrickane) (0-03), Shane McGrath (Thomas Davis) (0-04), David Tubridy (Doonbeg) (0-06 3f), Shane Brennan (Clondegad), Pat Burke (Kilmacud Crokes). Subs: Podge Collins (Cratloe) for Russell (38:00) (BC), Keelan Sexton for O’Connor (40:00) (Inj), Chris Dunning (Wolfe Tones na Sionna) for Seán Collins (60:00), Martin O’Leary (Kilmihill) for Burke (63:23), Seán Haugh (O’Currys) for Hickey (66:41).
Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)