AN ABSORBING finish saw Clara hang on to qualify for the intermediate hurling league final, despite a spirited fightback from Glenmore.
Clara were cruising to victory as they built up a 2-16 to 1-9 by the 45th minute, with Lester Ryan giving an exhibition of point-taking. Three of Ryan’s scores came throughout the third quarter, by which stage Clara appeared to have killed off Glenmore hopes.
However, they hadn’t reckoned on the form of Eoin Murphy. He led the Glenmore charge to perfection, his flawless free-taking leaving Clara on tenterhooks.
The early exchanges were even, with the sides level at 0-5 each at the opening quarter.
Paddy Murphy was on top form for Glenmore, scoring 0-3 from play. Chris Bolger, Brian O’Shea and Liam Ryan were all on target for Clara.
Keith Hogan edged Clara ahead with a 16th minute 65, but Glenmore responded when Murphy goaled a free two minutes later.
Clara hit back. A Keith Hogan free in the 22nd minute was followed by a Ciaran Prendergast goal.
Neal Prendergast surged forward towards goal. Fumbling from the Glenmore defence allowed namesake Ciaran to race on to the ball in clear space and blast a ground strike beyond Davy Aylward (1-7 to 1-5).
Clara pushed on, finishing the half the stronger as they outscored Glenmore by 1-2 to 0-1. The critical score came 60 seconds from the interval, as Brian O’Shea set up Liam Ryan to strike the goal that left Clara six points better off at the break (2-9 to 1-6).
Clara cruised effortlessly clear during the third quarter. Lester Ryan notched up 0-3, while Neal Prendergast added a superb long distance effort from play.
With 45 minutes gone victory seemed certain, but Glenmore fought relentlessly.
Eoin Murphy pointed four consecutive frees between the 45th and 56th minutes to considerably narrow the gap (2-16 to 1-13). Twice during that scoring sequence Murphy also went for goal from 20 metres frees, but his well-struck efforts were dealt with well by the Clara defence.
Keith Hogan pointed a 60 minute free that appeared to have consolidated victory, before Murphy added a second goal from a free a minute into stoppage time, followed by a pointed free from namesake Paddy.
Play still continued, with Clara were looking nervously over their shoulders, but the final whistle came in time.
For Clara Tom Ryan and John Phelan did well in the full-back line. Lester Ryan’s long range point-taking was a feature of the game, while Liam Ryan (1-2) made a valuable contribution in attack with Keith Hogan.
Eoin Murphy was the game’s outstanding performer. He did his utmost to try and rescue the result for Glenmore. John and James Cody and Mark Phelan fought tenaciously during the closing quarter, while Paddy Murphy was prominent early on.
SCORERS: Clara - Keith Hogan (0-8, 0-6 frees); Liam Ryan (1-2); Lester Ryan (0-4); Ciaran Prendergast (1-0); Brian O’Shea, Chris Bolger, Neal Prendergast (0-1 each). Glenmore - Eoin Murphy (2-9, 2-8 frees); Paddy Murphy (0-4, 0-1 free); Emmet Vereker (0-1).
Clara - K. Nolan, T. Ryan, J. Phelan, S. O’Shea, D. Langton, N. Prendergast, S. Prendergast, J. Langton, Lester Ryan, C. Phelan, C. Prendergast, Liam Ryan, C. Bolger, K. Hogan, B. O’Shea. Subs: B. Nolan, J. Nolan.
Glenmore - D. Aylward, A. Doherty, F. Freyne, Mark Phelan, James Cody, John Cody, Colm Foran, Ciaran Foran, D. O’Dwyer, P. Murphy, E. Vereker, E. Murphy, M. Aylward, G. Aylward, Michael Phelan. Subs: G. Walsh, J. Aylward.
Referee - E. Ryan (Fenians).