It's a real scare in Clare for Mournemen
Published 27/06/2011 | 04:17
Down boss James McCartan breathed a sigh of relief on Saturday after watching his side come perilously close to coming out on the wrong end of what would have been a monumental shock.
Last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists had been expected to see off Clare with ease but, in the end, just a solitary point separated the sides.
Indeed, had Conor Lavery not made an injury time goal-line clearance, the Down players' faces would have been left as red as their shirts.
"What we'll take away from this game is the result and nothing else," stated McCartan. "Fair play to Clare, they dug deep for the last fifteen minutes of the second half and the last fifteen of the first."
After a whirlwind start Down found themselves 1-2 to no score in front, six minutes in.
But Clare came back at them and a Timmy Ryan goal for the 'Banner' on 18, gave his side a 1-3 to 1-2 lead.
Down did go in 1-6 to 1-5 ahead at the break and hit a purple patch early in the second period, scoring five unanswered points by the 47th minutes.
Nevertheless, Clare refused to yield and when David Tubridy kicked the equaliser to make it 1-12 apiece with three minutes remaining, a upset look possible.
But Paul McComiskey fisted a point to allay Down worries and give them the lead before Laverty came to the rescue in injury-time after goalie Brendan McVeigh failed to catch a high dropping ball from out-the-field, by Joe Dowling.
The attacker turned defender cleared it off the goal-line to avert his team's blushes.
Clare manager MicheÃ¡l McDermott found it hard to hide his disappointment after the whistle when he said: "I feel gutted for the players. But we emptied the tank on the field and the effort, the courage and the drive and the desire of every one of those players has to be held up there as a great display for Clare."
Clare indeed put in a valiant and gutsy performance but it's Down that march on.