Clare just about beat Wexford to the tape in this hugely entertaining NHL 1A encounter in Ennis, the visitors coming back from 14 points down to within two with time running out.
The game began brightly with two Wexford points (Rory O’Connor and Cathal Dunbar) answered by a fine Podge Collins effort and two Peter Duggan frees. Tony Kelly’s first was answered by Liam Og McGovern, making it 0-4 to 0-3 on ten minutes.
The contest flowed, with both sides finding a way past each other’s sweeper, and Diarmuid Ryan, John Conlon and Duggan (free) had Clare 0-7 to 0-3 up on the quarter-hour. Ian Byrne (free) and David Fitzgerald swapped points before Colm Galvin found the range from far out.
Byrne’s two frees helped Wexford’s cause before Aidan Nolan made it 0-9 to 0-7 on 24 minutes.
Duggan (two frees), Shane Golden and Collins pointed for Clare – Golden might have had a goal – to restore their advantage, 0-13 to 0-7, by the half-hour.
However, Byrne (free), Dunbar and Liam Ryan hit three quick points for Wexford to stay in touch. Fitzgerald and Ryan hit back in injury time and McGovern pointed in response, but Conlon struck for a goal on the very whistle – 1-15 to 0-11.
Kelly pointed on the resumption and then Clare won a penalty: Duggan won and goaled, giving the home side a 2-16 to 0-11 lead on 40 minutes and deflating Wexford somewhat.
Clare made it 2-19 before Wexford responded -Rory O’Connor and Diarmuid O’Keeffe rallied the visitors and a run of six points on the bounce made it 2-19 to 0-18 approaching the last ten minutes, however.
Then Shaun Murphy connected spectacularly with a half-blocked Chin shot – goal, 2-19 to 1-18. Kevin Foley and Jack O’Connor cut Clare’s lead to two and it was all Wexford with time winding down.
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Duggan (free) made it a three point game with five minutes left but sub Paul Morris responded.
Collins hit a vital Clare point and Ian Galvin added another deep in injury time.
Sub Jack O’Connor cut the lead to three, 2-22 to 1-22, and Wexford had a last-gasp close-in free to snatch a draw. Jack O’Connor’s effort and the subsequent melee yielded a 65 but Clare held out.
Scorers for Clare: P. Duggan (1-6, 1-0 penalty, 6 frees); J. Conlon (1-1); D. Ryan (0-4); P. Collins (0-3); T. Kelly, D. Fitzgerald, I. Galvin (0-2 each); S. Golden, C. Galvin (0-1 each).
Scorers for Wexford: R. O’Connor (0-5, 1 free); I. Byrne (0-4, frees); S. Murphy (1-0); A. Nolan, C. Dunbar, L. Og McGovern, K. Foley, J. O’Connor (1 free) (0-2 each); L. Ryan, D. O’Keeffe, P. Morris (0-1 each).
CLARE: D. Tuohy, R. Hayes, D. McInerney, J. Browne, P. O’Connor, C. Cleary, D. Fitzgerald, S. Golden, C. Galvin, P. Duggan, T. Kelly (c), D. Ryan, I. Galvin, J. Conlon, P. Collins.
Subs: C. Malone for Fitzgerald (51); R. Taylor for Golden (60); J. McCarthy for O’Connor (65); A. McCarthy for Ryan and A. Shanagher for Conlon (inj)(68).
WEXFORD: M. Fanning, L. Ryan, D. Byrne, S. Reck, P. Foley, M. O’Hanlon (jc), S. Murphy, D. O’Keeffe, K. Foley, A. Nolan, L. Og McGovern, I. Byrne, C. Dunbar, L. Chin (c), R. O’Connor.
Subs: P. Morris and C. McDonald for McGovern and I. Byrne (HT); D. Reck for S. Reck (50); J. O’Connor for Dunbar (51); H. Kehoe for Nolan (66).
Referee: J. Keenan (Wicklow).
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