| 9.5°C Dublin

Blues mirror Banner's bid

HALF a loaf for Dublin in Parnell Park on Saturday - and they deserved every slice.

Their first point of this season's All-Ireland Senior Championship. The performance will lift the mood for the play-off in two weeks' time.

It was a tremendous match - Dublin 1-9, Clare 0-12. It was level seven times. It didn't deserve to produce a loser.

It contained a sharp tempo from the first bell. The Donnycarney lawn was in fine nick. Noel Brady had the nail clippers out.

Nettie Billings sat in the stand with her husband, the ubiquitous Dave. She played for Dublin. Their niece, Maire McGrath, played splendidly for Clare at right corner-back.

Clare had dangerous forwards in Naoimi Carroll, Susan Fahy and Claire McMahon. Dublin's half-forward, Muireann O'Gorman, gave a will-o'-the-wisp display.

She was onto every crumb, turning, twisting and delivering some good ball. She has Federer feet.

Her Na Fianna colleague, right-half-back, Arlene Cushen, also impressed with her reading of the play and her neat distribution.

The Dubs put in the work. Both sides did. There was one mighty scramble approaching half-time. In it, both counties had their full shoulder to the wheel, foraging deep to try and dig out the gold bar.

Such was the wholehearted effort in the scrum that it would have been no surprise to see Paul O'Connell emerge with a pint of milk.

Dublin had the loudest supporter in the stadium, a barking dog! He was under the roof on the terrace side. Any time the hosts managed a score, he did an impression of Rin Tin Tin.

The Blues made a sharp start. They were three points to one up inside 11 minutes, thanks to strikes from Mairi Moynihan (two frees) and Aisling Carolan.

It was all square for the second time at the break, 0-5 apiece, Dublin having had the breeze. The two teams put plenty of sugar in the tea.

The pace didn't drop. They had been level twice more before the only goal arrived at the church end 12 minutes into the restart.

Louise O'Hara took a free wide on the left in front of the terrace. Laura Twomey got on the end of it. Amy Murphy pounced and, despite close attention, managed to divert the sliotar just under the slates, 1-7 to 0-7. Their pedigree chum couldn't contain his excitement.

In the next moment, Fiona Hayes made the save of the match, diving low to the left-hand post to divert a shot from Carroll. Dublin were still a goal ahead with 10 minutes left before three unanswered scores from Fahy and McMahon (free and 45) tied it up once more.

Clare were coming on strong. Dublin were defending brilliantly. Carolan's point edged the Dubs in front. But, on the hour, Sinead Touhy ensured parity.

DUBLIN: F Hayes (Ballinteer St John's); L McSweeney (St Oliver Plunkett's/ER), G Quinn (Naomh Padraig/Na Cloigthi), E O'Meara (Na Fianna); A Cushen (Na Fianna), L O'Hara (Erin's Isle), C Power (Naomh MearnĂ³g); L Twomey (Naomh Mearnog, 0-1), M Moynihan (Lucan Sarsfields, 0-4, 3f); M O'Gorman (Na Fianna, 0-1), A Murphy (Erin's Isle, 1-0), A Twomey (Lucan Sarsfields); A Carolan (St Oliver Plunkett's/ER, 0-2), A Fanning (St Vincent's, 0-1), M Twomey (Naomh Mearnog). Subs used: S Ryan (Naomh Mearnog). C Burgess (Raheny).

CLARE: D Lynch (Kilmaley); M McGrath (Sixmilebridge), M O'Brien (Scariff/Ogonnelloe), C O'Leary (Newmarket-on Fergus); O Duggan (Clooney/Quin), C Morey (Sixmilebridge), F Lafferty (Inagh Kilnamona); K Cahill (Kilmaley), K Lynch (Kilkishen); L Woods (St Joseph's), S Vaughan (Scariff/Ogonnelloe), D Murphy (Clooney/Quin); N Carroll (Sixmilebridge, 0-2), C McMahon (Kilmaley, 0-7, 4f, 1 45), S Fahy (Whitegate, 0-2). Subs used: A Considine (Kilmaley). S Lafferty (Inagh/ Kilnamona). S Touhy (Sixmilebridge, 0-1).

REF: A O'Brien (Wexford).