Friday 21 September 2018

Fitzgerald plays down expectations after Banner rip up Treaty

NHL Division 1B ROUND-UP

BANNER boss Davy Fitzgerald was modest after watching his side demolish Limerick by 14 points (2-24 to 1-13) at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday.

However, there was no disguising the fact that this appears to be a Clare team moving in the right direction under the meticulous guidance of the county's 1995 and 1997 All-Ireland-winning goalkeeper.

Conor McGrath (pictured) was tormentor in chief - the Cratloe hitman bagged 1-10 - while John Conlon, scorer of 1-3 for Munster in the recent inter-provincial semi-final defeat by Leinster, opened up with four points from play in the second half.

Niall Moran's early goal helped Limerick to lead by 1-6 to 0-4 after 21 minutes, but Clare exploded with a run of 1-8 without reply to turn a five-point deficit into a six-point lead.

Despite the interval score at 1-12 to 1-8, Clare bombed out of the traps again after the break to cruise home.

"There's no point in the people of Clare getting carried away. We still have things to work on and we still will have dips, but, in the long run, the lads won't be too far away. But it's going to take time," said Fitzgerald.

Meanwhile, Offaly turned on the style in the first half to lay the foundations for an easy 1-27 to 0-18 win in Tullamore over neighbours Laois.

Ollie Baker's charges were fit and sharp as they tore Laois apart in the opening period, and while the O'Moore men salvaged pride in the second-half, they were chasing a lost cause.

And their cause was not helped when centre-forward Michael McEvoy was sent off after 21 minutes for a challenge that left James Rigney requiring treatment.

Offaly were well in charge by half-time, leading 1-15 to 0-7, so it meant that Laois were only trying to achieve respectability in the second half.

When Wexford asked the questions at Casement Park yesterday, Antrim had all the answers to run out 3-18 to 2-15 winners in this entertaining battle. When Shane McNaughton found the net after 19 minutes, the home side led 1-6 to 1-4. Kevin Sheeran went clear for another Antrim goal on 20 minutes and 14 minutes later Karl Stewart rocketed in a third to leave them 3-9 to 1-7 ahead at the break.

The changes in the forward department for the second half gave Wexford added impetus with three unanswered points, but the losers managed only three points in the last 18 minutes, while Antrim piled on seven points in the final stages for a six-point victory.

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