Clare cruised into the next round of the All-Ireland qualifiers this evening with a comprehensive victory over Leitrim in Avantcard Pairc Sean MacDiarmada.
It looked ominous for the home side from very early as Clare raced into a three-point lead courtesy of scores from Jamie Malone, Eoin Cleary and Gary Brennan.
To their credit Leitrim responded well and two points in the space of a minute from Domhnaill Flynn and Dean McGovern suggested an upset may still be possible and that Leitrim's year to remember would continue for at least another week.
However, Clare had other ideas and after Eoin Cleary scored his second point of the game the Banner men struck for the game’s opening goal with Jamie Malone showing great composure to take the ball around goalkeeper Cathal McCrann after a great run from Conal Ó hÁiniféin.
Four further points put Clare nine points to the good and it got even worse for the home side when Gary Brennan scored Clare’s second goal in the 21st minute.
Two Domhnaill Flynn pointed frees either side of an Eoin Cleary point briefly reduced the deficit but Clare finished the half strongly and enjoyed a commanding 2-12 to 0-6 lead at the break.
Leitrim rallied in the second half but in reality the result was already beyond doubt.
Evan Sweeney opened the second half scoring with a Leitrim free but Clare quickly got back into their groove with points from Eoin Cleary and Jamie Malone.
Leitrim hit back with two points of their own courtesy of the excellent Shane Moran but any lingering doubt about the final outcome was banished when Clare struck for their third goal when substitute Éimhín Courtney found the net with 15 minutes remaining.
Understandably Clare’s intensity dropped and Leitrim took full advantage, registering six points without reply - two from Evan Sweeney (one free) and points from Dean McGovern and Mark Plunkett (play and 45) and Shane Moran.
However, those scores did little more than put a more favourable look on the scoreline for the home supporters, although many had already made their way to the exits.
Clare’s inspirational captain, Gary Brennan, halted the Leitrim run of scoring with a fine point before Leitrim struck twice more with points from Jack Heslin and Evan Sweeney.
Clare’s Eoin Sweeney completed the scoring deep in injury time and Clare will now look forward to Monday morning’s draw for the next round of the qualifiers.
Leitrim: Cathal McCrann; Paddy Maguire, Micheal McWeeney, Aidan Flynn, Conor Reynolds, Mark Plunkett (0-02, 1 45), Raymond Mulvey; Oisin McCaffrey, Shane Moran (0-03); Domhnaill Flynn (0-03, 2f), Sean McWeeney, Shane Quinn, Dean McGovern (0-03), Pearce Dolan, Ryan O’Rourke.
Subs: Evan Sweeney (0-05, 3f) for O’Rourke (13), Oisin Madden for Reynolds (34), Jack Heslin (0-01) for Mulvey (HT), Jack Gilheaney for McCaffrey (HT), Gary Plunkett for S. McWeeney (50), Niall Brady for Flynn (70)
Clare: Stephen Ryan; Gordon Kelly, Cillian Brennan, Dean Ryan; Sean Collins, Aaron Fitzgerald, Conal Ó hAinifein; Gary Brennan (1-03), Cathal O’Connor, Sean O’Donoghue, Eoin Cleary (0-07, 3f), Jamie Malone (1-02); Gavin Cooney, David Tubridy (0-05, 1f, 1 45), Cian O’Dea.
Subs: Kieran Malone for J Malone (48), Eimhin Courtney (1-00) for Cooney (51), Gearoid O’Brien for O’Dea (54), Darragh Bohannon for O’Connor (57), Cormac Murray for Tubridy (64), Einne O’Connor for Kelly (66).
Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)