Ryan’s late strike rewards 14-man Clare
Late pointed free denies Galway victory
Galway’s Brian Flaherty, Daithí Burke and Iarla Tannian tackle Colm Galvin of Clare during the league clash at Ennis. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
Clare 0-18 Galway 1-15
Every day out seems like an elixir to these Clare kids. Yesterday, they shipped a full-bodied Galway effort and the loss of wing forward Shane Golden after 29 minutes, but somehow conjured a late draw to the rapturous approval of 9,288-strong crowd in Ennis.
Colin Ryan whipped the late free into the sun, referee Dermot Kirwan whistled full time shortly afterwards and Clare could point to a bit of steel and composure and stubbornness to match dazzling stick work and foot speed.
Galway could – and should – have won this, but Anthony Cunningham’s thoughts were clearly on next week’s quarter final against Limerick rather than the match just played. This league doesn’t leave long for reflection.
There were plenty of talking points for the visitors.
Cathal Mannion – sharp and confident again – was clearly dragged back in the 47th minute when he was through one-on-one against Clare goalkeeper Patrick Kelly but his desperate, kicked shot was wide.
And in the 71st minute, Galway had a sideline ball cancelled for time-wasting and were further punished when the referee moved the ball forward because of the vociferous protests. Tony Kelly had already landed 0-11 from frees but stepped aside to allow marksman supreme, Colin Ryan, to save the day and saved it duly was.
“We had the winning of it,” Anthony Cunningham said. “But all we needed was a point and coming to Ennis and playing the All-Ireland champions . . . we would have taken that during the week.”
The game was spellbinding in the concentration and focus of both teams. Davy Fitzgerald made seven changes and was rewarded with relentlessly intense displays from Paul Flanagan, Cian Dillon, Conor Ryan and Kelly, the chief creative force of Clare’s attacking game. Galway’s Niall Healy was felled just three minutes and resumed his entanglement with Jack Browne once he recovered. Both men were booked and the challenges stayed keen and hot after that, with Shane Golden red carded for a late pull across Iarla Tannian, who gave another display of authority and leadership at number six.
“Clare are so busy and bright on the field that they made being a man down seem inconsequential.
From the stand, it sometimes appeared as if there were several versions of Tony Kelly playing: God knows what it was like for the Galway players. Clare worry and hurry other teams in a way that must be mentally exhausting to play against.
But Galway produced some wonderful scores from play, with Niall Burke and Cathal Mannion striking from distance and Johnny Coen adding his contribution. The defence limited Clare’s vaunted attack to placed balls, with Daithí Burke and Ronan Burke winning a lot of hotly contested ball. Clare were rewarded with Cathal Mannion’s 50th-minute goal and Niall Burke had a glorious chance to add a second goal in the 63rd minute but Kelly got his body to the shot.
The game was riveting at this stage, with Conor McGrath firing three gorgeous points after his introduction and Galway responding through the industrious Johnny Glynn. But by not sticking their goal chances, Galway were exposed to the threat of a magpie theft by Clare. They took a draw and a place in the quarter-final. Ryan’s late score confirmed the sense that these are special days in the Banner county. Next up is Laois, a novel quarter final.
CLARE: P Kelly; C O’Donovan, C Dillon, J Browne; B Bugler, C Ryan, P Flanagan; P O’Connor, C Galvin, P Duggan, T Kelly (0-12, 11 frees), S Golden; C McInerney, S O’Donnell, D Reidy (0-1). Subs: J Conlon for C McInerney (ht), C McGrath (0-3) for D Reidy (49 mins), P Donnellan for B Bugler (51 mins), C Ryan (0-2, one free) for P Duggan (61 mins), D McInerney for D O’Donovan (64 mins).
GALWAY: C Callanan; F Moore, R Burke, J Coen (0-1) D Collins; I Tannian, D Burke; D Burke, P Brehony (0-1); A Harte, C Cooney (0-6, 4 frees), N Burke (0-3), C Mannion (1-2), J Glynn (0-1), N Healy. Subs : D Hayes (0-1) for N Healy (42 mins), A Smith for D Burke (47 mins), J Cooney for C Mannion (58), J Flynn for N Burke (64), P Killeen for A Harte (69 mins).
Referee : D Kirwan Cork.