Dublin’s hopes of progressing to the last four of the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship were dashed at the TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick on Saturday afternoon as they succumbed by 18 points to a dominant Clare outfit.
The concession of four first-half goals proved too much for a spirited Dublin side that battled until the final whistle but they had to concede second best to a Clare side that sparkled up front through Tony Kelly and Mark Rodgers.
The Banner could not have wished for a better start and after Ian Galvin had opened the scoring in the third minute, Kelly was afforded too much space soon after as he raced through on goal before firing clinically past Sean Brennan from 12 yards.
A Rodgers free extended Clare’s lead and matters deteriorated for the Dubs when scoring talisman Donal Burke was forced to withdraw through injury, replaced by Fergal Whitely in the eighth minute.
With Clare racking up a series of poor wides, Dublin gradually settled through a Cian O’Sullivan ‘65’ and two frees from the St Brigid’s player left his side trailing by just two by the 14th minute.
Whitely and the influential David Fitzgerald traded scores while an excellent Paul Crummey point enhanced Dublin’s position prior to Shane O’Donnell tapping over after Brennan had saved well from Galvin.
The Dubs were further buoyed in the 18th minute when O’Sullivan raced through the middle before releasing Darragh Power for a smart finish across Eibhear Quilligan.
Their joy was short lived however as Rodgers batted home from another telling pass by Fitzgerald two minutes later with two subsequent frees from O’Sullivan cancelling out efforts from Fitzgerald and Galvin.
The half culminated in a torrid manner as Kelly and O’Donnell found the Dublin net in quick succession with a late O’Sullivan free narrowing Dublin’s deficit to nine points by the interval.
Any hopes of an unlikely comeback were dispelled within three minutes of the restart as Kelly waltzed through to complete his hat-trick with Dublin keeping the scoreline respectable thanks to Crummey and O’Sullivan.
Rodgers and Kelly added two points apiece to enhance their personal tallies in the third quarter while Danny Sutcliffe and O’Sullivan made the most of limited possession to add points from play as the contest petered out by the 50th minute.
Substitute Alex Considine raised some cheer with a powerful finish past Quilligan at that time with O’Sullivan and the lively Crummey adding points as we moved into the final quarter.
Clare escaped some scares on their own goal with Quilligan denying Whitely and Considine before piling on the pain at the opposite end via points by Aron Shanagher, Fitzgerald and Kelly.
Rodgers revelled in the space afforded him as he brought his tally to 1-11 by the end.
Shane O’Donnell of Clare shoots to score his side’s fourth goal, under pressure from Eoghan O’Donnell
and (inset) Dublin manager Micheál Donoghue