Clare survived a determined come back from Wexford to book their place in the All Ireland semi-finals.
In front of a dismal crowd of 10,255 in Pairc Ui Chaoimh, Clare’s forward power proved too much for Davy Fitzgerald’s side who were the creators of their own downfall, to a certain extent. Just as in the Munster final, Clare were the dominant side in the first half but allowed their opponents scrape their way back into the game in the closing stages.
Wexford found themselves in a precarious situation at half-time. While Liam Ryan and Shaun Murphy were attempting to dilute John Conlon’s effect on the game, Shane O’Donnell and Kelly were playing with the ease and finesse that they showed in 2013. Wexford, meanwhile were having to survive through frees from Rory O’Connor.
Perhaps a bigger issue for Davy Fitzgerald was how easily Clare were able to read the puck-out’s from Mark Fanning and take advantage of them while their usual strategy of deploying a sweeper was working against them, Shaun Murphy proving ineffective playing so deep. Kevin Foley and Lee Chin were influential in midfield but neither were able to supply the ball that Peter Duggan and co. were enjoying for Clare.
It took until the 28th minute for John Conlon to score his first point but by that stage, he had created much of the scores for the players around him. Clare were far from the finished product however, as their wide count crept up near double figures before half-time while they were unable to create a goal opportunity for themselves.
Wexford appeared to be brighter in the second half, Diarmuid O’Keeffe and Lee Chin registered their first scores of the game soon after the whistle. But the errors continued and their poor passing gifted possession to the Banner county and as Colm Galvin and Cathal Malone settled into the game, Podge Collins and Peter Duggan were able to knock out easy scores.
Clare were perhaps guilty of taking their foot of the gas as Wexford crept back into the game, a goal against the run of play from Conor McDonald swinging the momentum in their direction. As Fitzgerald rang the changes,Wexford smelled blood and less than two minutes later, Donal Tuohy was forced into a great save. O’Connor scored a wonderful point from the sideline to leave just four points between the sides.
Wexford's Conor McDonald sticks it in the back of the net! pic.twitter.com/JV1nXoKaJ2
— The GAA (@officialgaa) July 14, 2018
O’Donnell popped up with a vital score for Clare that seemed to reignite the fight in their play. Super-sub Ian Galvin added another before Conlon added his most important contribution, a wonderful score from near the sideline. As the game slipped away from Wexford, Rory O’Connor received a straight red for a strike on Rory Hayes. Fergal Horgan eventually blew the whistle after four minutes additional time as Clare booked their place in Croke Park and a semi-final against Galway.
Clare: Donal Tuohy; Patrick O’Connor, David McInerney, Jack Browne; Seadna Morey (0-1), Conor Cleary, Jamie Shanahan; Colm Galvin, Cathal Malone (0-1); Peter Duggan (0-7, 5f), Tony Kelly (0-5), David Reidy (0-2); Podge Collins (0-3), John Conlon (0-3), Shane O’Donnell (0-4).
Substitutions:David Fitzgerald for Galvin (57) Ian Galvin (0-1) for Reidy (58) Conor McGrath for Duggan (68) Michael O’Malley for Malone (71) Rory Hayes for Browne (72)
Wexford: Mark Fanning; Damien Reck (0-1), Liam Ryan, Simon Donohoe; Paudie Foley, Mathew O’Hanlon, Diarmuid O’Keeffe (0-1); Kevin Foley, Shaun Murphy (0-1); Rory O’Connor (0-10, 9f), Aidan Nolan, Liam Óg McGovern; David Dunne, Lee Chin (0-1), Conor McDonald (1-3).
Substitutions: Jack O’Connor for Aidan Nolan (49) Harry Kehoe for Foley (57) Willie Devereux for O’Keeffe (65)