By Declan Rooney in Ballinderreen
Shane O’Neill picked up his first win as Galway hurling manager with a 2-4 haul from former minor star Sean Bleahene the standout from their seven-point win over Clare at Ballinderreen.
New Clare manager Brian Lohan fielded an experimental starting 15, and despite a sluggish first-half they improved massively after the interval. Colin Guilfoyle scored ten frees in that second-half alone, but it wasn’t sufficient as Galway’s three goals before the break gave them a healthy cushion.
With Kevin Hussey dominant at the back, and with goalkeeper Fergal Flannery masterful from his puckouts, Galway pounded the Clare backline from the start. Bleahene, Sean Linnane and the lively Tadhg Haran landed good points, before Flannery and Bleahene combined before Haran cracked their first goal in the 14th minute.
Six minutes later Bleahene fired Galway’s second goal past Eibhear Quiligan, and right on half-time the Ahascragh/Fohenagh target man scored his second for a 3-9 to 0-10 lead.
With two weeks preparation under their new manager Clare were understandably a long way from their top form, but a couple of Gary Cooney points before the break kept them in touch. They lost Niall Deasy to a blood injury at the interval, while the arrival of David Reidy, Ian Galvin and Aidan McCarthy saw their play improve.
They scored 11 points after the break – ten of them came from Guilfoyle frees – although they were all in vain as substitute Brian Concannon scored Galway’s fourth goal in the 47th minute, which wrapped up a convincing win for the Tribesmen.
Scorers – Galway: S Bleahene 2-4, T Haran 1-4 (1’sl), B Concannon 1-1, J Flynn 0-3 (3f), S Linnane 0-2, R O’Meara 0-1, J Mannion 0-1
Clare: C Guilfoyle 0-10 (10f), N Deasy 0-4 (3f), G Cooney 0-2, O Donnellan 0-1, R Taylor 0-1, A Shanagher 0-1, D McMahon 0-1, A McCarthy 0-1
Galway: F Flannery; J Grealish, P Killeen, D Cronin; K Hussey, J Holland, J Mooney; S Linnane, S Loftus; T Haran, J Flynn, R O’Meara; D Mannion, S Bleahene, J Mannion.
Subs: J Skehill, S Kilduff, J Coen, B Concannon, M Horan
Clare: N Quilligan; J McCarthy, P Fitzpatrick, E Quirke; K Whyte, K Hehir, E Tuohy; O Donnellan, R Taylor; A Shanagher, N Deasy, D McMahon; M O’Neill, C Guilfoyle, G Cooney
Subs: K Hogan, C McInerney, C Malone, D Ryan, S McMahon, D Reidy, I Galvin, A McCarthy.
Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway).Tweet