Clare power past Wexford in extra-time
Last-gasp Jack Guiney goal completes great fightback but Banner County pull away
Wexford’s Richie Kehoe battles for possession with Clare’s Peter Duggan during the qualifier game at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Clare 3-24 Wexford 1-20 (Clare 1-17 Wexford 1-17 after 70 minutes)
Clare’s maddening inconsistency very nearly cost them a place in the All-Ireland senior hurling championship quarter-finals, before sub Cathal McInerney plundered two goals in extra-time against Wexford to send the Banner County through to the last six.
The Banner County registered 16 wides - nine of those in the second half alone - as they finished level with Wexford after 70 minutes in balmy Thurles.
Leading by seven points in both halves, Clare coughed up a six-point advantage in the final 15 minutes as Wexford’s Jack Guiney scored an equalising goal in stoppage time at Semple Stadium.
And so on we went into extra-time, with Clare finding the extra kick through McInerney to establish a 3-20 to 1-18 advantage at the turn. Both goals were created by Conor McGrath and manager Davy Fitzgerald could breathe again.
Extra-time shouldn’t have been needed but McInerney, a 65th minute sub, grabbed his chance with both hands to provide Fitzgerald with real selection headaches ahead of Sunday week.
Fitzgerald insisted: “It’s great. I’ve Darach (Honan) to come back, Cathal’s been waiting for a chance for a long time, he showed us what he can do. I’m delighted he did that. I want those challenges. Aaron Cunningham didn’t do bad when he came in. Different lads showed up there today and thanks be to God we’ve got that problem.”
Fitzgerald conceded that it’s the “same story” with Clare all year - this infuriating tendency to mix the good with the bad.
Because there was plenty to admire about their display and the huge amount of scoring chances created is obvious proof that they’re doing an awful lot right.
They scored 3-24, had 20 wides, Tony Kelly missed a penalty and drove another over the bar and Wexford goalkeeper Mark Fanning pulled off some fine saves. That’s the bones of 50 scoring opportunities right there and Fitzgerald noted: Fitzgerald reflected: “It’s the same story all year. We are hitting the wides but the type of game we play, which is not a short ball game, is a varied, running game. We (go) long, we (go) short as you can see today.
“That’s what we’ve been doing all year. We will create a lot of chances. I think as we progress and get more mature, we’ll start to rectify that.
“But isn’t it fantastic to have that opportunity? There are a lot of teams who would kill to be in that position, about having that many wides. If we have 20-something wides and we have 26 or 27 (scores), we’re nearly shooting nearly 45-50 scoring chances. That tells its own story. That isn’t a bad thing - people have got to look at that.”