Laois 0-14 Clare 2-18
The Clare footballers made it all the way to the All-Ireland quarter-finals last year and they’ll have similar ambitions this season following a comprehensive win over Laois at O’Moore Park on Saturday afternoon.
With corner forwards Eoin Cleary and Keelan Sexton in devastating form – scoring 1-11 between them – they knocked Laois out of the championship for the second successive season.
Cleary and Sexton got the game's first two points and they, along with Jamie Malone, would torment Laois for the afternoon.
Malone had a goal disallowed in the opening half for over-carrying and he also forced a great save out of Graham Brody on another occasion. Donie Kingston frees kept Laois in touch while captain Stephen Attride also led by example with a couple of fine scores. In any case Clare were full value for their 0-11 to 0-8 lead at the break.
The game’s decisive moment arrived seven minutes into the second half when John O’Loughlin picked up his second yellow card and Clare kicked on in style from there. Malone got the first goal in the 47th minute when he was set up by Cleary and Sexton added a second with 10 minutes of normal time remaining.
Clare pushed 14 points clear at one stage and although Laois added a couple of late points there was no doubting that Clare’s superiority.
LAOIS: G Brody; D Strong, M Timmons, T Collins; E Buggie, P McMahon, C Begley (0-1); B Quigley, J O'Loughlin; A Farrell, D Conway (0-1), D O'Connor; S Attride (0-3), D Kingston (0-8, seven frees), G Walsh (0-1, free).
Subs: N Donoher for O'Connor (half-time), J Kelly for Buggie (49 mins), R Munnelly for Walsh (50 mins), P Kingston for Conway (50 mins), J Finn for Quigley (55 mins), B Daly for Attride (60 mins).
CLARE: J Hayes; D Ryan, K Harnett, G Kelly; P Lillis (0-2), S Collins, M McMahon; C Russell, G Brennan (0-2); C O'Connor (0-2), J Malone (1-1), C O'Dea; E Cleary (0-9, five frees, two 45s), D Tubridy, K Sexton (1-2, one free).
Subs: J Hayes for Russell (57 mins), G O'Brien for Turbidy (57 mins), S Malone for Sexton (63 mins), D Nagle for O'Dea (63 mins), E Collins for Harnett (64 mins), K Malone for Lillis (68 mins), D Bohannon for S Collins (68 mins).
Referee: J Henry (Mayo).