Even before the throw-in for this All Ireland hurling quarter-final, the main talking point was that fans of both sides did not buy into the choice of venue. Páirc Uí Chaoimh is without question a fabulous new facility but accessibility problems on a busy Saturday were enough to put many people off.
All Ireland Hurling Quarter Final: Clare 0-27 Wexford 1-17
Croke Park beckons for Clare this weekend following a comfortable win over an attack shy Wexford side in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
With only 10,255 spectators present the stadium lacked championship atmosphere, although there were more Clare supporters than Slaneysiders.
Wexford’s disappointing performance will fuel speculation on the future of their manager David Fitzgerald who was gracious in defeat towards his native county.
John Conlon came close on this occasion.
In contrast, the Clare joint management of Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor are now 70 minutes away from the biggest day in hurling.
Having failed to jump the quarter-final hurdle in the last two campaigns, Clare held firm in the face of Wexford’s lukewarm second-half rally.
The game got off to a slow start with scores from Tony Kelly and Seadna Morey making it just two points apiece after 13 minutes. By half-time the signs were ominous, Wexford trailed 0-16 to 0-9 as Clare tore apart Wexford’s sweeper strategy releasing David McInerney as a loose man.
Wexford struggled with wides while Clare dominated with the entire forward line and midfield pairing getting on the scoresheet long before the end of the game.
The Yellowbellies were overly dependent on DCU student Rory O’Connor for the bulk of their scores as the St Martin’s man converted five first-half frees.
While Clare looked sharp all over, they were helped on their way by poor clearances from and breakdowns across Wexford’s half-forward line resulting in an abundance of scores.
Goalkeeper Mark Fanning’s puck-outs also proved beneficial with at least three Clare points coming directly from his malaise.
Tony Kelly controls the ball under pressure from Paudie Foley of Wexford.
An on-fire Tony Kelly was his team’s top marksman notching four from play. He was ably assisted by the hard-working Shane O’Donnell while Podge Collins and David Reidy were also to the fore.
By the 25th minute, Clare led 0-9 to 0-4 and went in at the break with a seven point lead, 0-16 to 0-9.
For the first ten minutes of the second half, Wexford got off to the better start with two points to reduce the deficit to five.
Clare were pulled into a contest when Conor McDonald fielded a long delivery before side-stepping his marker and drilling a low shot into Donal Tuohy’s goal on 58 minutes.
Moments later Touhy denied the opposition a certain goal with the scoreline 0-22 to 1-14 in Clare’s favour but Wexford bounced back to make it a three-point contest.
The Slaneysiders however blew their chances when Rory O’Connor, Jack O’Connor and Conor McDonald all struck consecutive wides.
Following this five minute cameo, Shane O’Donnell, Ian Galvin, John Conlon and Conor McGrath helped the Banner home with seven to spare.
Rory O’Connor rounded off a forgettable day for Wexford when he was shown a straight red card for a clash with Rory Hayes who had just come on as a substitute for Jack Browne.
Best for Clare included Donal Tuohy, David McInerney, Seadna Morey, Peter Duggan, Tony Kelly, Podge Collins, John Conlon and Shane O’Donnell.
Clare: Donal Tuohy; Patrick O’Connor, David McInerney, Jack Browne; Jamie Shanahan, Conor Cleary, Seadna Morey (0-01); Colm Gavin, Cathal Malone (0-01); Peter Duggan (0-07, 0-05f), Tony Kelly (0-05), David Reidy (0-02); Podge Collins (0-02), John Conlon (0-03), Shane O’Donnell (0-04). Subs used: David Fitzgerald for C Galvin (58 mins), Ian Galvin (0-01) for Reidy (59 mins), Conor McGrath (0-01) for Duggan (68 mins), Michael O’Malley for Malone (72 mins), Rory Hayes for Browne (73 mins).
Wexford: Mark Fanning; Damien Reck (0-01), Liam Ryan, Conor Firman; Paudie Foley, Matthew O’Hanlon, Diarmuid O’Keeffe (0-01); Kevin Foley, Shaun Murphy (0-01); Rory O’Connor (0-10, 0-09f), Aidan Nolan, Liam Og McGovern; David Dunne, Lee Chin (0-01), Conor McDonald (1-03). Subs used: Jack O’Connor for Nolan (49 mins), Harry Kehoe for K Foley (58 mins), Simon Donohue for P Foley (61 mins), Willie Devereux for O’Keeffe (65 mins).
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).