Report: Ronan Fagan, Photos: Noel Reddy
Ten second-half wides cost Davy Fitzgerald’s charges dearly as they succumbed to Clare’s greater economy in Sunday’s second-round Allianz NHL Division 1 Group B contest at wintry Chadwicks Wexford Park.
Clare struck four wides overall in contrast to 13 for Wexford, and that statistic is one which the home-camp were left cursing after generating sufficient opportunities to have maintained their 100% start to the season.
Clare made good use of first assistance of the strong wind blowing from the Clonard-end as Tony Kelly (4 frees) steered them clear by 0-6 to 0-0 inside 12 minutes.
Wexford’s enterprise was strong as they sought to limit Clare chances, and Jack O’Connor lifted the locals amongst the 6,800 attendance with three pointed frees between the 14th and 27th minutes to cut the gap to 0-6 to 0-3.
Cathal Dunbar was the victim of a high challenge for which Clare defender Eoin Quirke escaped with a yellow-card. But The Banner’s captain John Conlon wasn’t so fortunate as he was shown a straight red-card on 29 minutes for a robust challenge on Kevin Foley.
Clare held their nerve as they launched another scoring surge in the closing stages of the half to stretch clear by 0-12 to 0-4 at the change-of-ends, with Kelly adding four pointed frees.
Wexford wasted no time in trying to bridge the gap as Pádraig Foley (free) and the O’Connor brothers, Rory (2) and Jack, together with Mark Fanning – the ‘keeper coming out field to get on the end of a set-piece – cut the gap to 0-12 to 0-9 within eleven minutes of the resumption.
Unfortunately wides began to really hurt Wexford at this stage, as they struck seven during a spell when they still managed to get back to within 0-14 to 0-13 after 58 minutes through scores from Conor McDonald (2), Paul Morris and Liam Óg McGovern.
Alas, the wides continued to mount for the purple-and-gold – four more in fact – while three more points from Tony Kelly (one free) meant Clare survived and left Wexford pondering those costly misses.
Clare – Donal Touhy; Conor Cleary, Jack Browne, Eoin Quirke; Stephen O’Halloran, Pat O’Connor, Aidan McCarthy; David McInerney, Tony Kelly (0-12, 10 frees); David Reidy, David Fitzgerald (0-3), Ian Galvin; Ryan Taylor (0-2), John Conlon (capt.), Shane O’Donnell (0-1).
Subs: Cathal Malone for Kelly (blood., 26-29); Domhnall McMahon for Galvin (46); Seadna Morey for Taylor (55); Malone for Reidy (60); Liam Corry for Quirke (69); Aaron Shanagher for O’Donnell (70+2).
Wexford – Mark Fanning (0-1); Joe O’Connor, Liam Ryan, Shane Reck; Damien Reck, Pádraig Foley (0-3 frees), Shaun Murphy; Liam Óg McGovern (0-1), Kevin Foley; Aidan Rochford (0-1), Rory O’Connor (0-2), Jack O’Connor (capt., 0-4, 3 frees); Cathal Dunbar, Conor McDonald (0-2), Paul Morris (0-1).
Subs: Aidan Nolan for McGovern (61); Harry Kehoe for D Reck (64).
Referee: Seán Cleere (Kilkenny).