Two Mayo goals brought Clare’s footballing summer to a close after a year when Colm Collin’s men consolidated their division two status.
All Ireland Senior Football Qualifier Round 3A Mayo 2-13 Clare 0-13
At Cusack Park on Saturday there as an air of expectancy even though Clare were up against a Mayo powerhouse. Unfortunately an excellent first half effort gave way to a series of early second half errors that effectively ended the game as a contest.
Mayo made three changes from the team that edged past Derry the week previous and there was no recall for all star Keith Higgins who missed the qualifier in McHale Park due to suspension. For their part, Clare had a comfortable 10 point success over Laois in O’Moore Park the week previous to up this glamour tie in a packed Cusack Park.
By the morning of the game 11,500 tickets had been sold giving a bumper attendance at Clare GAA headquarters in the sweltering heat. A rush to the gate at 3.00pm by a sea of green and red vying for the 1,250 seats on offer summed up the value of Mayo to a local economy.
The action began with Aidan O’Shea winning the throw in and Andy Moran on target. Donal Vaughan ended his participation in the 4th minute after taking down Gary Brennan. Eoin Cleary pointed the free for the home side’s opening score.
David Tubridy was on hand for his side’s fourth and his second point from a free after 13 minutes as Clare were looking like possible winners with less than quarter of an hour played. Jamie Malone went for goal but saw his powerful run end with the effort smothered for a 45 by goalkeeper David Clarke while his best option would have been a pass to the onrushing Cleary.
Clare rallied with scores from Malone and Sexton to surge 0-6 to 0-1 ahead with 19 minutes played. It was as good as it got though, despite all their work in the second quarter Clare managed only two scores as opposed to five for Mayo.
In the 23rd minute Lee Keegan narrowed Clare’s lead to two as Mayo were pushing up on Clare’s short kickouts. Mayo finished the half on the ascendancy with a well taken brace of points from Andy Moran to leave them only two in arrears.
In the first ten minutes of the second half the Clare challenge collapsed and this ultimately sealed their fate. Ciaran Russell was black-carded before Martin McMahon miss-kicked a free in front of his own goal gifting Cillian O’Connor with the game’s first goal. One minute later Clare were five in arrears when with Diarmuid O’Connor raced through and blasted past Joe Hayes to the net.
Somehow, Clare rallied and David Tubridy was on target in the 47th minute to leave Mayo 2-7 to 0-9 ahead. Mayo manager Stephen Rochford revitalised his side with some astute changes entering the final 20 minutes. Eoin Cleary added Clare’s 10th score in the 58th minute before Cillian O’Connor, Aidan O’Shea and O’Connor put the game well beyond the home side with five minutes remaining.
Clare finished strongly without ever threatening Mayo’s lead as Cleary, Tubridy and substitute Gearoid O’Brien added minors before Cillian O’Connor rounded off the scoring in injury time for a seven point win. In the second half Mayo had outscored the home side by 2-8 to 0-5 and in that statistic Mayo proved themselves the better team irrespective of Clare’s third quarter mistakes.