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Tenacious Clare beat Kilkenny to become All-Ireland U21 champions

A consummate second-half display enabled them to claim the title for only the second time in their history.

Clare captain Conor McGrath lifts the cup.
Clare captain Conor McGrath lifts the cup.

GOALS FROM CATHAL O’Connell and Conor McGrath helped Clare beat Kikenny 2-17 to 2-11 at Semple Stadium this evening, becoming All-Ireland U21 hurling champions for 2012 in the process.

It was a hard-earned win for Clare, who trailed 2-7 to 1-7 at half-time, before a spirited second-half display ensured they lifted the trophy for only the second time in their history.

The Banner County enjoyed an excellent start to the game, when good work from Conor McGrath helped O’Connell score the game’s first goal, as he beat Dylan Walsh with a composed finish.

Colm Galvin and Patrick O’Connor were also among the point scorers, as they led 1-5 to 0-2 after only eight minutes.

However, a Kilkenny fightback ensued thereafter, with points from Walter Walsh, Geoff Brennan and Kevin Kelly keeping them in the game.

The sides were then level on 28 minutes, after John Power scored a penalty that stemmed from a questionable decision in which David McInerney was penalised for a challenge on Power.

The Cats then added another goal soon after, as Ger Aylward latched on to Power’s long ball and finished with a aplomb, giving his side a slender three-point advantage at the break.

Nonetheless, the late first-half dominance by Kilkenny only served to galvanise their opponents.

After 45 minutes, Clare had doubled their points tally, including a McGrath goal from close range, with the Cats registering a sole point in response.

And there were few signs of a late Kilkenny comeback, with Shane Golden, Cathal McInerney and Kelly making sure Clare ultimately ran out relatively comfortable winners.

The result meant the Cats were prevented from winning a record twelfth All-Ireland U21 hurling title, and a first since beating Tipperary in 2008.

Clare 2-17

Kilkenny 2-11

CLARE U21H: Cathal O’Connell 1-6 (0-5f), Cathal McInerney 0-4, Conor McGrath 1-1, Seadna Morey, Colm Galvin, Patrick O’Connor, Aaron Cunningham, Shane Golden, Tony Kelly (0-1f) 0-1 each.

KILKENNY U21H: Kevin Kelly 0-6 (0-4f), Ger Aylward 1-1, John Power 1-0 (1-0 pen), Walter Walsh 0-2, Padraig Walsh, Geoff Brennan 0-1 each.

CLARE U21H: Ronan Taaffe (Tubber); Paul Flanagan (Ballyea), David McInerney (Tulla), Killian Ryan (Ruan); Patrick O’Connor (Tubber), Conor Ryan (Cratloe), Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge); Colm Galvin (Clonlara), Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge); Tony Kelly (Ballyea), Padraic Collins (Cratloe), Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones); Cathal McInerney (Cratloe), Conor McGrath (Cratloe), Cathal O’Connell (Clonlara). Subs: Peter Duggan (Clooney-Quin) for Cunningham (48), Niall Arthur (Inagh-Kilnamona) for Collins (59).

KILKENNY U21H: Dylan Walsh (Thomastown); Jason Corcoran (John Lockes), Willie Phelan (Dunamaggin), Brian Kennedy (St Lachtain’s); Luke Harney (Kilmacow), Richie Doyle (Barrow Rangers), Joe Lyng (Rower Inistioge); Geoff Brennan (St Patrick’s), Ollie Walsh (Dicksboro); Kevin Kelly (St Patrick’s), Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan), Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro); Walter Walsh (Tullogher-Rosbercon), John Power (Carrickshock), Ger Aylward (Glenmore). Subs: Martin Gaffney (Dicksboro) for Ollie Walsh (38), Cathal Kenny (Barrow Rangers) for Padraig Walsh (56).

Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork)

Read: As It Happened: Clare v Kilkenny, Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21HC final>

Read: Club Call: Munster – Cork SHC, Limerick SHC, Tipperary SHC and Waterford SHC>

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