Eoin Brennan reports from Tullamore
NORMAL SERVICE WAS resumed this afternoon when Tony Kelly returned to fire 2-12 and guide Clare to their first Allianz League League victory of the new campaign in Bord na Mona O’Connor Park in Tullamore.
Having recovered from surgery on a persistent ankle injury, the current All-Star led out his native county as captain and tormented hosts Offaly who, despite an encouraging display, were outflanked coming down the final straight.
Indeed, the final scoreline is misleading as only a point separated the sides by the 59th minute after an Eoghan Cahill-led Offaly had gone toe-to-toe with their more experienced visitors.
However, a brace of Kelly goals in five minutes completely altered the narrative as Clare gathered momentum with a further 1-7 whereas the home side only had a free from substitute Luke O‘Connor to show for the last 15 minutes.
It was all so different in the opening half when despite facing into the conditions, Offaly led on three different occasions only to be consistently pegged back by Kelly who finished the half with seven points at 0-9 to 0-9.
Robin Mounsey scores a point for Clare.
Source: Tom Maher/INPHO
Clare did hit as many wides while Ryan Taylor was unlucky not to grab at least one goal. However, they did make amends in the 44th minute when Shane Meehan pulled a rebound to the net after an initial deflected effort from effective half-time substitute Aron Shanagher at 1-10 to 0-12.
Offaly, mainly through freetaker Cahill, kept in touch but couldn’t recover from Kelly’s devastating blows as first he was teed up by Meehan at the edge of the square before converting a 64th minute penalty to the left corner after Shanagher had been impeded on his way to goal.
With Offaly’s heads dropping, the visitors finished with aplomb including a spectacular second goal from teenager Meehan to ease any relegation fears while plunging their hosts further towards a demotion play-off.
Padraig Cantwell chases after Shane Meehan.
Source: Tom Maher/INPHO
Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly (2-12, 1-0 Pen, 7f); Shane Meehan (2-1); Ryan Taylor, Aron Shanagher (0-2 each); Shane Golden, Patrick Crotty, Diarmuid Ryan (0-1 each)
Scorers for Offaly: Eoghan Cahill (0-11, 10f), John Murphy (0-2); Eimhin Kelly, Liam Langton, Luke O’Connor (f) (0-1 each)
Rory Hayes, Conor Cleary, Paul Flanagan
Diarmuid Ryan, John Conlon, Jack Browne
Paddy Donnellan, Shane Golden
Cathal Malone, Patrick Crotty, Darren O’Brien
Shane Meehan, Tony Kelly, Ryan Taylor
Aron Shanagher for O’Brien (half-time)
Robin Mounsey for Donnellan (40)
Mike Gough for Cleary (54)
Peter Duggan for Golden (63)
Joey Keenaghan, Ben Conneely, Paddy Delaney
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David King, Ciaran Burke, Killian Sampson
Eimhin Kelly, Eoghan Parlon
Brian Duignan, Liam Langton, Adrian Cleary
Eoghan Cahill, John Murphy, Jason Sampson
Luke O’Connor for Duignan (49)
Paddy Clancy for Parlon (60)
Luke Nolan for Cahill (65)
Padraig Cantwell for Burke (68)
Dara Maher for J. Sampson (70)
Referee: Kevin Jordan (Tipperary)