Tony Kelly hits 13 points as Clare just survive late Laois storm

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Tony Kelly Hits 13 Points As Clare Just Survive Late Laois Storm Tony Kelly Hits 13 Points As Clare Just Survive Late Laois Storm
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Paul Keane

Clare 0-27 - 3-17 Laois

Clare 0-27 Laois 3-17

They lived on their wits at times at Nowlan Park and their MacCarthy Cup credentials remain heavily in question but Clare are at least still standing in this year's Championship.

Tony Kelly's 13-point haul proved crucial for the 2013 All-Ireland champions who were mightily relieved to hear the full-time whistle at Nowlan Park following a storming Laois finale.

Leading by seven points with less than 15 minutes to go, it looked as if Clare would push on for perhaps a double digits winning margin despite losing David McInerney to a red card late in the first-half.

Instead, they were outscored by 1-6 to 0-4 from there on and will require a significant improvement in Round 2 of the qualifiers next weekend.

Laois goals from Ross King, their key man who went off with an apparent injury early on, and James Keyes kept them in it and when Aaron Dunphy added a third in the 68th minute it got the margin down to just three points.

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Padraig Delaney, who had a terrific head to head with Kelly, Padraig Purcell and Mark Kavanagh added points for Laois late on but Clare's 69th minute long range point from Rory Hayes ultimately proved the winner.

It was tough on Laois, the 2019 McDonagh Cup winners, who had a Purcell goal ruled out earlier following a foul in the buildup, accruing just a point from that move.

Laois went with a sweeper again, deploying Jack Kelly in the role, while Delaney got the onerous task of man-marking Banner attacker Kelly but did well, conceding just 0-4 from play and contributing directly himself to 0-2 for Laois late on.

Former All-Ireland winner Kelly escaped his man for three first-half points from play and added seven more from frees as Clare took a 0-16 to 1-6 lead at the interval.

Colin Guilfoyle and Paul Flanagan made their full Championship debuts for Clare while Aron Shanagher and Aidan McCarthy, who both came on in the defeat to Limerick, started too.

Guilfoyle and Shanagher were both on the mark in the first-half too though Clare took their time to break free of a determined Laois.

The underdogs led at the first water break and the sides were level on three occasions up to the 20th minute.

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King's fourth minute goal gave Laois hope when he volleyed in from close range after Dunphy's initial shot hit the ground and bounced up kindly for him.

But free-taker King was taken off in the 23rd minute, with an apparent injury, and was replaced by Purcell, another key player who surprisingly didn't start.

Kavanagh did at least start following injury and the team's top scorer from their 2019 Championship defeat of Dublin showed his ability with a point from a sideline cut late in the first-half.

Clare dominated Laois in the second quarter of the game and outscored the Leinster outfit by 0-9 to 0-2 from the 20th minute to seize the momentum and that seven-point half-time lead.

Keyes' goal after the restart helped Laois get the margin down to two on a couple of occasions in the third quarter but five Laois points in a row in response appeared to take the sting out of that revival.

Laois were only just getting going though and deserved at least a draw but came up just short as the full-time whistle brought sighs of relief from the Clare camp.

Clare scorers: Tony Kelly 0-13 (0-9f), Aron Shanagher 0-3, David McInerney 0-2, Ryan Taylor 0-2, Cathal Malone 0-2, Seadna Morey 0-2, Aidan McCarthy 0-1 (0-1f), Colin Guilfoyle 0-1, Rory Hayes 0-1.

Laois scorers: Mark Kavanagh 0-6 (0-3f, 0-1 s/l), Ross King 1-2 (0-2f), James Keyes 1-1, Aaron Dunphy 1-1, Paddy Purcell 0-2, Willie Dunphy 0-2, Ciaran McEvoy 0-1, Padraig Delaney 0-1, Jack Kelly 0-1.

CLARE: Eibhear Quilligan; Rory Hayes, Conor Cleary; Paul Flanagan; Stephen O'Halloran, Seanda Morey, Aidan McCarthy; David McInerney, David Reidy; Cathal Malone, Tony Kelly, Colin Guilfoyle; Aron Shanagher, Shane O'Donnell, Ryan Taylor.

Subs: Shane Golden for Reidy 53, Diarmuid Ryan for Guilfoyle 56, Gary Cooney for Taylor 62, Aaron Cunningham for Shanagher 67.

LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Lee Cleere, Donnchadh Hartnett, Sean Downey; Jack Kelly; Ryan Mullaney, Padraig Delaney, Eric Killeen; Fiachra C Fennell, James Keyes; Aaron Dunphy, Mark Kavanagh, Colm Stapleton; Ross King, Willie Dunphy.

Subs: Patrick Purcell for King 23, Stephen Maher for Kelly h/t, Ciaran McEvoy for Killeen 49, Conor Phelan for Downey 66, Mark Hennessy for Maher 70.

Referee: Thomas Walsh (Waterford).

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