Tony Kelly bags 2-12 on Clare return as they storm home against Offaly

Offaly played their best hurling of the league campaign to lead at half-time in Tullamore

Offaly 0-16 Clare 4-20

Clare stormed home in the closing quarter for a very convincing win over Offaly in Tullamore but it was far from as straightforward as the final scoreline suggests.

Offaly battled very well for a good hour and only fell away in the closing 10 minutes plus as Clare blew them out of the water.

Tony Kelly, back from a long injury lay-off, scored 2-12, 1-5 of it from play, and his two second-half goals helped Clare end stern Offaly resistance.

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Offaly played their best hurling of the year in the first half. They had received a rude awakening to life in Division One hurling against Galway and Cork, and they competed much better here. The sides were level at 0-9 each at half-time and Offaly fully deserved to be in this position.

They made a fantastic start with three points in two minutes but Clare responded superbly with three in the next two. Kelly showed his quality in the first half. He had four points from play on the board by the 14th minute and Clare led by 0-6 to 0-5 at that stage. Kelly added three frees in the second quarter and also had three wides, a 65 and two frees that he would expect to point.

Offaly were good in the first half as they moved the ball well and cut down on the volume of errors that had blighted their first two games. Three Eoghan Cahill frees got Offaly 0-8 to 0-6 ahead by the 25th minute. Three from Kelly put Clare back in front and another Cahill free levelled it up at half-time.

Offaly were competitive for a good bit of the second half. They were 0-12 to 0-10 ahead eight minutes in and recovered well after Ryan Taylor got 1-2 in three minutes to put Clare 1-12 to 0-12 ahead after 48 minutes.

Offaly got the gap back to 1-13 to 0-15 but Clare staged a powerful closing spurt. A well taken Kelly goal in the 59th minute opened the floodgates. He fired home a penalty four minutes later and Clare ran riot with Shane Meehan getting a fourth goal in injury-time.

OFFALY: C Clancy; J Keenaghan, C Burke, P Delaney; D King, B Conneely, K Sampson; E Kelly (0-1), E Parlon; B Duignan, L Langton (0-1), A Cleary; E Cahill (0-11, 10 frees), J Murphy (0-2), J Sampson.

Subs: L O'Connor (0-1, free) for Duignan (48 mins), P Clancy for Parlon (60), L Nolan for Cahill (65), P Cantwell for Burke (67), D Maher for Jason Sampson (69).

CLARE: E Quilligan; R Hayes, C Cleary, P Flanagan; D Ryan (0-1), J Browne, S Golden (0-1); P Crotty (0-1), P Donnellan; C Malone, T Kelly (2-12, 1-0 pen, seven frees), R Taylor (1-2); S Meehan (1-1), J Conlon, D O'Brien.

Subs: A Shanaher (0-2) for O'Brien (h/t), R Mounsey fof Donnellan (40 mins), M Gough for Cleary (53), P Duggan for Golden (62).

Referee: K Jordan (Tipperary).