Irish Gaels led all the way through as they accounted for the challenge of Shamrocks to reach the County semi-finals on Wednesday. County star John O’Dwyer scored eight points for last year’s defeated finalists, who struggled to pull clear of their visitors for much of the second half but they scored five of the last six points to rubber-stamp their passage to next weekend.
Pat Mulcahy’s side began very well and had built a 0-5 to 0-1 lead inside 11 minutes as O’Dywer and Daire Lordan were among the scores, but gradually Shamrocks found some momentum.
Clare’s Bobby Duggan got two nice points and Niall O’Brien and Ger Hennelly were also on target as they drew to within a point, 0-6 to 0-5, but Irish Gaels had pushed four clear, 0-10 to 0-6, by half-time.
The sides matched each other score for score early in the second half, Irish Gaels not on top form but ensuring that they did enough to keep Shamrocks at bay, with a goal looking more and more necessary if the game was to be turned.
By the time Shamrocks did get a clear-cut opportunity of a green flag, when Brendan O’Connor was fouled for a penalty in the 58th minute, the scoreboard read 0-18 to 0-9 in Irish Gaels favour.
In any case, impressive corner-back Stephen Murphy – who, along with fellow defender Tomás Lawrence and midfielder Conor Hammersley, shone all through – kept Duggan’s effort out. While Duggan did get a point immediately after that, Irish Gaels captain John Cronin rounded off the scoring with his third point in injury time.