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Clare end Kilkenny's unbeaten run with superb display in Ennis

Tony Kelly hits 2-5 as Clare stun the Cats in Cusack Park.

Image: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Clare 4-20

Kilkenny 1-25
Eoin Brennan reports from Cusack Park, Ennis

A STRONG FINISH to both this thrilling contest and indeed the National Hurling League ensured that Clare maintained their current momentum in Cusack Park, Ennis this afternoon. An ideal championship warm-up, Clare and Kilkenny went toe-to-toe in a worthy contest that should provide plenty of enthusiasm for the summer ahead.

Four timely goals from the hosts still could not deter group winners Kilkenny from their task as despite finding themselves seven down by the 20th minute and trailing by five with just 15 minutes remaining, the Leinster champions somehow bounced back to take the lead on both occasions.

Indeed, with the sides locked together for the ninth time nearing the 70 minute mark, it was Clare who managed to find some grains of inspiration from their bench as Gary Cooney (2) and Ryan Taylor fired the last three points to seal their side’s third win in a row.

First half injuries to Aaron Fitzgerald and the returning David McInerney were considerable blows with the Banner’s Munster Championship opener against Waterford imminent in a fortnight’s time. However, captain John Conlon and Diarmuid Ryan certainly made up for those absentees at the back, with the latter contributing three monster points.

rory-hayes-and-eoin-cody Clare's Rory Hayes and Eoin Cody of Kilkenny. Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

After a slow start, the game sparked into life in the 17th minute when Aidan McCarthy found the overlapping run of Tony Kelly to provide an unstoppable finish to the top right corner of the net. And the 2020 All-Star would double his goal tally on the restart, this time through a penalty after Ian Galvin was tripped at 2-6 to 0-5.

True to form, Kilkenny upped the ante to finish the half with nine of the last 12 points as TJ Reid’s settling frees were bolstered by Adrian Mullen (2), Walter Walsh and Billy Ryan to slash the arrears to just one by the interval at 2-09 to 0-14.

With Walter Walsh and Adrian Mullen both succumbing to blood injuries before half-time, Eoin Cody and Richie Reid soon snatched the whip hand to edge Kilkenny in front by the final water break at 0-21 to 2-14.

The unpredictable seesaw nature of the tie meant that the lead would change hands on three more occasions before the finish. First, superb opportunist goals for David Reidy and Aron Shanagher powered Clare five clear at 4-14 to 0-21 before Kilkenny substitute Martin Keoghan’s placed finish to the bottom right corner began another backlash heading down the final straight.

However, just when it seemed that both sides would be content with a draw, Clare found an extra gear with the last four points as a Tony Kelly free from his own half was followed by singles through Gary Cooney (2) and Ryan Taylor to protect their six-game unbeaten record against Kilkenny in as many seasons.

Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly 2-5 (1-0 Pen, 5f); David Reidy 1-2; Aron Shanagher 1-1; Diarmuid Ryan, Aidan McCarthy 0-3 each; Gary Cooney 0-2; David McInerney, Mark Rodgers, Shane Golden, Ryan Taylor 0-1 each

Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 0-9 (7f, 2’65); Eoin Cody 0-4; Adrian Mullen, Richie Reid 0-3 each; Martin Keoghan 1-0; Billy Ryan 0-2; Richie Leahy, Walter Walsh, David Blanchfield, Michael Carey 0-1 each

Clare

1. Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)

 

4. Aaron Fitzgerald (Éire Óg)

3. Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown)

2. Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones)

 

5. Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe)

6. John Conlon (Clonlara)

18. David McInerney (Tulla)

 

9. Tony Kelly (Ballyea)

11. Colm Galvin (Clonlara)

 

8. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge)

10. David Reidy (Éire Óg)

7. Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona)

 

13. Ian Galvin (Clonlara)

14. Aron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones)

15. Mark Rodgers (Scariff)

Subs

22. Paul Flanagan (Ballyea) for Fitzgerald (5)

18. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona) for McInerney (30)

25. Domhnall McMahon (Michael Cusack’s) for C. Galvin (49)

12. Ryan Taylor (Clooney-Quin) for I. Galvin (50)

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20. Gary Cooney (O’Callaghan’s Mills) for Rodgers (63)

19. Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge) for Shanagher (63)

 

Kilkenny

1. Eoin Murphy (Glenmore)

2. Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan)
3. Huw Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels)
4. Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels)

5. Darragh Corcoran (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
6. Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan)
7. Conor Browne (James Stephens)

8. Richie Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
9. Richie Leahy (Rower Inistioge)

10. Adrian Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
11. Walter Walsh (Tullogher Rosbercon)
12. Billy Ryan (Graigue-Ballycallan)

13. James Bergin (Conahy Shamrocks)
14. TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
15. Eoin Cody (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

Subs

23. Martin Keoghan (Tullaroan) for W. Walsh (33, Blood Sub)

19. Michael Carey (Young Irelands) for Mullen (35, Blood Sub)

18. Ciaran Wallace (Erin’s Own) for T. Walsh (HT)

20. David Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge) for Leahy (HT)

25. Niall Brassil James Stephens) for Ryan (HT)

24. Liam Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge) for Bergin (60)

22. Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro) for R. Reid (65)

Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)

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