Dublin 4-14 Clare 2-17:
UNFORTUNATELY, THIS enthralling hurling battle was decided by some highly contentious decisions from the officials. The lack of a reliable score detection system in Gaelic games has, yet again, had a major impact on the result.
Dublin took the breaks that came their way with eight of last year’s All-Ireland final performers earning a chance at redemption. In stark contrast, Clare will wake up this morning with a sickly feeling in their stomach considering how matters finished down the home straight.
With a minute remaining, Clare’s David Conroy levelled up a contest that should have never been so close. Minutes earlier they had led by five points.
Then came a triple whammy of controversial incidents. Referee David Hughes overruled his linesman to give Clare’s Bobby Duggan a free and a chance to atone for successive wides and add to his 0-6 from placed balls. The Dublin management felt it should have been their sideline ball.
Duggan stooped and shot. The umpire took what seemed an age to wave it wide. Television replays showed the ball sail high over the top of the upright. Hughes spoke to the men in white coats to confirm their view of the attempt. The wide was upheld.
Seconds remaining now. Clare’s bull of a midfielder Jamie Shanahan claimed the sliotar inside his own half only to be blatantly impeded by Dublin captain Cian O’Callaghan. Hughes deemed it a Dublin free for barging. Paul Winters strike for victory fell short but Oisín O’Rorke was quickest to react, batting home his second goal. O’Callaghan won the last-gasp missile into Dublin territory and Hughes blew for full-time.
Cue the post-mortem. The use of a television match official or Hawkeye technology (not yet working effectively enough to be introduced) were back on the agenda.
“It was definitely a point, in my opinion, but the free was what I had a big issue with,” said Clare manager Eamon Fennessy.
“As far as I’m concerned our player was fouled, he was clearly being held but the decision went the other way.”
Fennessy was at pains not to sound like a moaning defeated manager. “It is a human decision, you are in under a post and it is a very difficult call,” he continued. “I definitely think there is a place for video technology.
“Where I stood I thought it was inside. Genuinely. It was the difference between us losing the game possibly. It was a decisive moment but, look it, it went Dublin’s way, what can you do. I was talking to the linesman who was standing where I was and whether he was looking or not I don’t know, I don’t want to be disrespectful to referees or officials, it is a very, very hard job.”
Dublin manager Shay Boland admitted the late free against Shanahan was “soft” but argued such “isolated incidents” didn’t decided the result.
“I thought the referee did a good job today,” said Boland. “He was consistent all the way through. The goals were at key times. Clare were playing the better hurling and when it looked like it was slipping away from us we were able to get a goal to keep us in the game.”
This happened four times. Clare raced into a 1-5 to 0-1 lead with a Shanahan goal from a penalty after 14 minutes when Dublin goalkeeper Cian MacGabhain hauled Duggan to ground. Seconds later we finally had a contest as O’Rorke profited from Eibhear Quilligan and Gearóid Ryan’s collision to toe poke to the net.
Quality scores from Shanahan, Duggan and Shane Taylor kept Clare in front until a brilliant piece of fielding, side-stepping and a clinical finish for a goal from Dublin wing forward Caolán Conway.
Paul Winter ensured all six Dublin forwards had scored, while Cormac Costello also landed a fabulous point from midfield, to leave just two between the sides at half-time. Clare seemed poised to stride away when Shane O’Donnell, despite taking nine steps, claimed their second goal on 40 minutes.
But Dublin refused to die. Seán McClelland hit a wonderful long- range score only to later see his penalty effort saved by Ryan. Winters pointed the resulting 65.
Another brilliant score from Taylor kept the distance at four points until Colm Cronin’s goal was quickly followed by points from Cian Boland and Conor McHugh.
There followed the decisions that decided what was a seriously competitive and entertaining duel. Dublin await the winner of Sunday’s meeting between Tipperary and Galway.
DUBLIN: C MacGabhann; S Barrett, C O’Callaghan, E Lowndes; E O’Donnell, R Murphy, S McClelland (0-1); C Costello (0-1), C Cronin (1-1); C McHugh (0-2), S Treacy (0-1), C Conway (1-0); P Winters (0-3, 65 and free), C Boland (0-3), O O’Rorke (2-1). Subs: J Roche for O’Rorke (temp, 23-30), D Gormley (0-1) for Treacy (41 mins).
CLARE: E Quilligan; S O’Brien, B Carey, G Ryan; A McGuane, C Cleary, E Quirke; D Conroy (0-1), J Shanahan (1-4, one free); S Taylor (0-3), A Morey, A O’Gorman; B Duggan (0-7, all frees), N Deasy (0-1), S O’Donnell (1-1). Subs: C Deasy for Morey (half-time), M O’Leary for N Deasy (temp, 46-49 mins), S Ward for N Deasy (55 mins).
Referee: D Hughes (Carlow).