By Pierce O’Reilly
Clare 1-15, Mayo 2-10
The sun was still high in the sky as these two impressive teams took to the hallowed sod at Gaelic Park to bring proceedings to a close on Sunday. The large crowd who remained on the bleachers were in for a treat. Clare and Mayo played their hearts out in a magnificent game of free-flowing football that was full of passion and excitement. Mayo dominated the opening half, and with Pat Fallon prominent around the middle, they kicked some impressive points. Kevin Touhy and John Browne on the wings interchanged with James Horan with regularity and their early scores settled the Mayo attack. Clare were never far behind, however, and with Denis Russell, Donegal natives Gerry Doohan and Gary Dowd pointing, they stayed in close contention.
Clare and Mayo played some inspirational football. The clashes were intense but fair and the crowd never looked away from the kickoff. When Touhy hit the back of the Clare net midway through the first half, Mayo led by four points. It was a goal fitting for the occasion. All-star James Horan split open the defense with a darting run and released Touhy, who buried the ball in the top left corner of the net. When the sides changed ends, Mayo held a two-point advantage, 1-5 to 0-6.
Clare’s manager, Pat Scanlon, pulled a masterstroke at the start of the second half. His half-forward line was transformed with three changes. The Banner boys had Mayo’s two-point lead whittled away in no time. Russell, Dermot Boylan, Dowd and Doohan kicking exemplary points and the Mayo defense left dump founded. Mayo were caught flatfooted and they paid a dear price for it. Weekender Russell was majestic in this 10-minute purple patch. His distribution, fielding and point taking pinned Mayo in their own defense. When they did manage to escape, they ran down the barrel of a loaded gun with the Clare defense soaking up everything that was thrown at them. Browne, Horan and Touhy did manage to score, but they lacked support from further in.
When Dermot Boylan stole behind the Mayo defense after 10 minutes, he gave Alan Beaty no chance from close range. The former Derry minor, who was dangerous all afternoon, drove a pile-driver to the roof of the Mayo net. Clare were five points to the good. The teams may have being tired and tanned but the pace never slowed. Referee Tom Fahey was eager to stamp his authority on proceedings and when Mayo’s Eamon McEvoy and Clare’s Tadgh Foley squared up to each other, both were sent for early showers.
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Mayo used the extra space much better and when Jerry Gillespie found Tom Maher on the edge of the square, he volleyed the ball to the net. While Mayo continued to attack in the final few minutes they lacked the killer punches that Clare had in abundance.
Mayo: Alan Beaty, Liam McDonnell, Pierce O’Reilly, Niall McMahon, Keith McMahon, Paddy Redington 0-1, Eamon McEvoy 0-1, Pat Fallon, Dave Colleran, John Browne 0-3, James Horan 0-1, Kevin Touhy 1-4, John O’Driscoll, Tom Maher 1-0, Jerry Gillespie.
Clare: M O’Connor, C. Breen, P. O’Connor, N. Dillane, M. McCabe, S. Melley, T. Rafferty 0-1, G. Dowd 0- 2, D. Russell 0-6, O. Conway, T. Foley, B. Hughes, D. Boylan 1-1, S. McMahon, G. Doohan 0-4. Subs: J. Egan 0-1.