Clare got their bid to seal the last semi-final berth in the Irish Daily Star Camogie League off to a successful start as they defeated All-Ireland champions Galway in the first of the play-off games at Corofin by 1-10 to 0-08.
The opening half was a very evenly-matched affair, ending with the sides level on 1-03 to 0-06.
Rebecca Hennelly was responsible for five of Galway’s points from frees. She had two by the eighth minute and when Orla Kilkenny scored the Westerners’ only score from play in that period in the 11th minute, they led by two points.
Niki Kaiser was magnificent for Clare though in accumulating a tally of 1-05 and when Niamh O’Dea offloaded to her after a strong run, the sharpshooter buried a rising shot to the net from a tight angle.
That put two points between the teams but Hennelly restored parity at the interval from a brace of placed balls.
Chloe Morey was making her seasonal reappearance after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury last year and she excelled in an outstanding full-back line that also included Máire McGrath and Carol O’Leary.
What’s more, her long-distance free-taking was right out of the top drawer and she defied her long absence by lofting over three 60m frees as the Bannerwomen pulled clear.
Kaiser added a couple of points and Róisín McMahon split the posts from 45m to put seven points between the teams entering injury time.
Galway were unable to escape the shackles placed on them by a Clare unit hunting in packs and they didn’t score in the latter period until injury time. Those two points were never going to threaten a remarkable turnaround however.
Clare will now play Limerick, who they defeated last Sunday, to set up the play-off scenario, and victory against their Munster neighbours on Wednesday will guarantee them a spot in the penultimate round against three-in-a-row chasing Cork.