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Written by Peter O'Connell
Thursday, 12 May 2011 11:42
Clare 1-10 Sligo 1-8
The majority of challenge games are non-events with players finding it hard to give it everything with nothing at stake. This was a definite exception.
he 70 minutes, played to mark the opening of St Joseph's Miltown new stand, incorporated a 20 man pre-half-time brawl, a follow-up skirmish in Miltown's new tunnel, a howling wind that made it impossible to play football at times and the rather unusual sight of an inter-county manager being treated by the team's physiotherapist. A number of superb Clare points from David Tubridy and Martin McMahon, along with a well-worked Clare goal scored by Graham Kelly also enlivened proceedings.
Both teams gave it everything in a game that wasn't far off championship intensity, taking the inclement weather into account. Playing with an exceptionally strong wind, blowing towards the town end in Miltown, Clare led 1-7 to 0-3 at half-time.
Just before the interval Clare's Graham Kelly became involved in a tangle with a couple of Sligo players, which soon escalated into a virtual all in, with players rushing to the scene from all over Hennessy Memorial Park. The dispute temporarily erupted again as both teams headed down the tunnel at half-time.
Graham Kelly, who played some outstanding first half football, also upended the visitor's goalkeeper, Philip Greene, when a dropping ball landed into the keeper's hands just as Kelly arrived. Greene was immediately bundled into the net only to emerge enraged and looking for the Miltown man. Shane Brennan was brought on at half-time for Kelly.
Sligo came much more into the game in the second half and David Maye's goal brought them to within touching distance of Clare.
However, points from Rory Donnelly, Niall Browne and Dara Blake helped Clare stay in front and to record a morale-boosting win. Although Darren O'Neill and Alan Clohessy both limped off, neither injury is a long term one.
Having played a near full strength Armagh team two weeks ago, Clare will play their final pre-championship challenge on Thursday when they play Leitrim in Roscommon.
Clare will play Cork in the Munster quarter-final in Pairc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday, May 22.
The incident involving Micheál McDermott and David Rooney's misdirected line ball had its origins in a disputed call. Linesman Michael Rock wasn't certain whose line ball it was but McDermott was adamant that it was Clare's. However, Shane Hehir awarded it to Sligo who had another go at it once Clare physio, Seán O'Meara was finished tending to the temporarily stunned Clare manager.
This was after Rooney's initial line ball hit McDermott full force in the side of his head. He remained upright though, although he did appear to be momentarily on the ropes. Once McDermott got his bearings, he had words with the Sligo player, who insisted that the incident was accidental.
As if all of this wasn't enough, the gale force wind was supplemented by a torrential downpour about ten minutes from full time. Indeed such was the strength of the wind and rain, master of ceremonies for the day, Willie Healy, was very worried that he might have been marooned in the new press box, within the 1,200 seater stand.
"We could be trapped here for the night," he forecast sagely to a silent press box as the wind and rain intensified outside. Willie also kept the press box regularly informed as to how the Manchester United v Chelsea premiership match was going.
Clare: Joe Hayes; Kevin Hartnett, Laurence Healy, Mark Tubridy; Martin McMahon, Gordon Kelly, John Hayes; Gary Brennan, Niall Browne; Darren O'Neill, David Tubridy, Graham Kelly; Rory Donnelly, Joe Dowling, Alan Clohessy.
Subs: Ger Quinlan for Darren O'Neill (injured), Shane Brennan for Graham Kelly, Michael Foran for Joe Dowling, Dara Blake for Alan Clohessy (injured).
Referee: Shane Hehir (St Joseph's, Miltown).
Gael85 (Dublin) - Posts: 1433 - 14/05/2011 15:12:32 930669Link 0