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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 21 November, 2017
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Clare hold off defiant Wexford to land U21 three-in-row

Tony Kelly bowed out with 0-7 as champions Clare retained their U21 crown in Semple Stadium.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Clare 2-20

Wexford 3-11

DRIVEN ON BY a man of the match performance from captain Tony Kelly, Clare won the All-Ireland U21 title for a third straight year in Semple Stadium this evening.

Goals from David Reidy and Aaron Cunningham helped the Banner to a six-point win against a Wexford side that simply did not know when they were beaten.

Three times in the second half, Wexford goals breathed life into a contest that looked to have become a formality.

In the end, Clare had enough in hand to close out the win like the consummate stars they are quickly becoming.

Playing his last game at U21, Kelly led the way with a brilliant seven points from play. Five of them came in the opening period, helping Clare into a 1-8 to 0-6 lead at half-time.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

There wasn’t much to choose between the sides until the 12th minute when Shane O’Donnell drove through the Wexford defence and palmed the ball to Reidy who tapped in the game’s opening goal at the back post.

Cunningham let Wexford off the hook when a glorious goal chance squirmed out of his hand a few minutes later, and four frees from Jack Guiney and a brace of points from Gary Moore ensured that Wexford were still in contention at the break.

The deficit was down to three as Conor McDonald and Guiney pointed within moments of the restart.

But Cunningham’s goal in the 38th minute, created by the fine vision of Jamie Shanahan and Bobby Duggan, looked to be a hammer blow.

It put Clare seven ahead, 2-10 to 0-9, with 20 minutes remaining and Wexford’s luck seemed to be out when a Guiney penalty was blocked away for a 65 by Jack Browne.

Enter supersub David Dunne. With two goals in the space of nine minutes he gave Wexford a glimmer of hope — though they still trailed by six points with eight minutes remaining.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

And when Conor McDonald slammed home another Wexford goal in the 54th minute, followed quickly by a Guiney point, that gap was cut to three.

It was as good as it got for Wexford. Jolted to life, Clare stepped up another gear and finished with the final three scores to make the game safe.

Fittingly it was two of their senior stars, Kelly and Colm Galvin (2), who had the final say.

It might be the end of an era for this incarnation of the Clare U21s but make no mistake: their young heroes are here to stay.

Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly 0-7; Aaron Cunningham 1-2; David Reidy 1-1; Colm Galvin, Bobby Duggan (3f) 0-4 each (3f); Gearoid O’Connell, Jamie Shanahan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Wexford: Jack Guiney 0-7 (6f, 1 65); David Dunne 2-0; Conor McDonald 1-1; Gary Moore 0-2; Conor Devitt 0-1.

CLARE

1. Keith Hogan

2. Jarlath Colleran
3. Jack Browne
4. Séadna Morey

5. Gearóid O’Connell
6. Conor Cleary
7. Jamie Shanahan

8. Colm Galvin
9. Eoin Enright

10. Bobby Duggan
11. Tony Kelly
12. Peter Duggan

13. Shane O’Donnell
14. Aaron Cunningham
15. David Reidy

Substitutes: Cathal O’Connell for G O’Connell (49); Alan O’Neill for S O’Donnell (55); Shane O’Brien for J Colleran (59).

WEXFORD

1. Oliver O’Leary

2. Andrew Kenny
3. Liam Ryan
4. Eoin Conroy

5. Jim White
6. Shane O’Gorman
7. Jack O’Connor

8. Aidan Nolan
9. Conor Devitt

10. Jack Guiney
11. Gary Moore
12. Pádraig Foley

13. Rhys Clarke
14. Conor McDonald
15. Kevin Foley

Substitutes: David Dunne for J O’Connor (34); James Cash for J White (41); Conor O’Leary for G Moore (52); Peter Sutton for J Cash (59).

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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