Clare 2-11 Down 0-11

Clare secured their first victory in the second tier of the Allianz Football League for 15 years this afternoon as they overcame Down in Cusack Park in Ennis. 

Following an opening draw with Derry the previous Sunday, 1,749 were in attendance to witness the newcomers build up a 13-point lead by the 40th minute before eventually settling for a six-point win.

Goals from Keelan Sexton and David Tubridy proved the difference for the Banner. 

In the process, it only poured more misery on Down who were made to suffer their ninth successive league defeat following a disasterous top tier campaign in 2016.

In contrast, a buoyant Clare, who had captured the Division 3 title last year, took the whip hand from the outset backed by the conditions and would be boosted by a brace of first half goals to build up a 2-07 to 0-03 interval cushion.

In all, the hosts would create eight first half goal opportunities but were thankful to Sexton and Tubridy for finding the net at opposite ends of the half as they had also kicked seven wides in that opening period.

Sexton scored his goal in only the second minute after Tubridy had been denied and it would set the tone for the half as the aforementioned duo, along with Jamie Malone, all added points to ease Clare into a 1-03 to 0-01 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Despite a glut of goal chances, the gap was only five approaching the break though.

However, after his goal-line shot cleared the crossbar in injury-time, Tubridy would make amends in the next passage of play as Jamie Malone intercepted a short kick-out and worked the ball through Sexton for Tubridy to beat goalkeeper Marc Reid and ensure a ten point half-time advantage

That margin was extended to 13 only four minutes into the new half as Eoin Cleary grabbed an early brace of points.

However, with the aid of the conditions, Down eventually found their range, with Cathal Magee (3), Barry O’Hagan (2) and substitute Ryan Johnston (2) all on target as the visitors outscored Clare by 0-08 to 0-01 for the remainder.

That recovery was tempered by the fact that by that stage the home side had emptied their bench.

However, Clare had more that enough to secure what could yet prove a vital two points in Division 2.

Clare: Joe Hayes; Dean Ryan, Kevin Harnett, Martin McMahon; Liam Markham, Gordon Kelly, John Hayes; Gary Brennan, Ciaran Russell; Sean Collins (0-01), Keelan Sexton (1-01), Shane Brennan; Eoin Cleary (0-03, 0-01f), David Tubridy (1-03), Jamie Malone (0-03).

Subs: Cathal O’Connor for G. Brennan (43), Darren Nagle for Hayes (48), Cian O’Dea for Tubridy (53), Pearse Lillis for Ryan (59), David Egan for Malone (64), Gearoid O’Brien for Collins (67)

Down: Marc Reid; Ryan McAleenan, Gerard McGovern, Darren O’Hagan (0-01); Conaill McGovern, Niall Donnelly, Caolan Mooney; Aidan Carr (0-01), Jonathan Flynn; Joe Murphy, Cathal Magee (0-03, 0-02f), Shay Millar (0-01); Alan Davidson, Pat Havern (0-01), Barry O’Hagan (0-02, 0-01f)

Subs: Darragh O’Hanlon for C. McGovern (35), Conor Maginn for Davidson (35), Kevin McKernan for Havern (43), Ryan Johnston (0-02) for G. McGovern (53), Jerome Johnston for B. O’Hagan (61), Peter Turley for Flynn (63)

Referee: Noel Mooney (Cavan)