James Crombie/INPHO Aaron Cunningham was superb for Clare.
# high flying Banner
Clare's rampant attack sees Davy Fitz's men power past Kilkenny into league decider
A remarkable nine-point win for the Banner county in Thurles.

Clare 4-22
Kilkenny 2-19

Jackie Cahill at Semple Stadium, Thurles

CLARE AND WATERFORD will meet in a championship dress rehearsal when the sides do battle in the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 final on 1 May.

The two counties are scheduled to meet in the Munster SHC semi-final five weeks later but first of all they’ll battle it out for national silverware.

Clare battered Kilkenny by nine points in this afternoon’s League semi-final, played out in front of 20,481 spectators at Semple Stadium, as 2013 Hurler of the Year Tony Kelly made his first appearance of the year.

Aaron Cunningham and Conor McGrath sparkled in attack for the Banner men as they advanced to a first Division 1 League decider since 2005.

Donal Og Cusack celebrates a score Ryan Byrne / INPHO Donal Óg Cusack and Davy Fitz celebrate. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

And if Clare can topple champions Waterford in a fortnight’s time, they’ll be top flight League champions for the first time since 1978.

Cunningham hit all of his 2-3 in the first half and McGrath finished up with a total of 1-6, including a brilliant second-half goal.

Powerhouse forward John Conlon also netted for Clare as TJ Reid and Jonjo Farrell collected second-half consolation goals for Kilkenny.

Colm Galvin was also superb for Clare in a roving commission around the middle third of the field, picking off five sweet points.

There was far more energy about Clare than their opponents and any doubts about their hunger for the fight, knowing that Waterford would be waiting for them in the final, were dispelled in blistering fashion.

By half-time, Clare were a whopping 11 points clear, 3-12 to 0-10, as the Kilkenny full-back line struggled under an aerial onslaught.

Two of Clare’s goals came from route one deliveries that Kilkenny couldn’t cope with, as Conlon and Cunningham picked up the pieces for goals one and three.

In between, Cunningham bagged the first of his brace, beating Eoin Murphy with a low shot at his near post.

John Conlon celebrates scoring his sides first goal James Crombie / INPHO John Conlon was a constant thorn in the side for Kilkenny. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Kilkenny were shellshocked and while they rallied briefly early in the second half, Clare went on to lead by 13 points at one stage in proceedings.

Kilkenny’s leading scorer TJ Reid somehow managed to find the net with a 20m free in the 42nd minute through a posse of bodies but Clare would not be denied.

McGrath netted 20 minutes from home and after coming on as a sub to mark his return from injury, Kelly pointed with his first touch before adding another within a minute, as Clare scorched into a 4-18 to 1-14 lead.

This was a day when Kilkenny’s talismen Reid and Richie Hogan scored two points from play between them, as Clare ran riot.

Farrell netted with 17 minutes left to play but Clare held out comfortably until the finish.

Scorers for Clare: Aaron Cunningham 2-3, Conor McGrath 1-6 (0-2f, 0-2 65s), Colm Galvin 0-5,  John Conlon 1-1, Darach Honan & Tony Kelly 0-2 each, David Reidy, Podge Collins & Cathal O’Connell 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid 1-7 (1-6f), Jonjo Farrell 1-1, Pádraig Walsh, Walter Walsh, Kevin Kelly & Chris Bolger 0-2 each, Cillian Buckley, John Power & Richie Hogan 0-1 each.


1. Patrick Kelly (Inagh-Kilnamona)

2. Oisín O’Brien (Clonlara)
3. Cian Dillon (Crusheen)
4. Paul Flanagan (Ballyea)

6. Conor Cleary (St. Joseph’s Miltown/Kilmaley)
7. Pat O’Connor (Tubber)
20. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona)

5. Brendan Bugler (Whitegate)
11. Colm Galvin (Clonlara)

10. John Conlon (Clonlara)
13. Conor McGrath (Cratloe)
8. David Reidy (Éire Óg)

23. Podge Collins (Cratloe)
15. Darach Honan (Clonlara)
12. Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones na Sionna)

Brian Cody looks on as Jackie Tyrrell leaves the field injured James Crombie / INPHO A disappointing day for Cody and his men. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO


26. Tony Kelly (Ballyea) for Conlon (51)
25. Cathal O’Connell (Clonlara) for Honan (57)
21. Colin Ryan (Newmarket-on-Fergus) for Reidy (64)
24. Aaron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones) for Cunningham (67)
14. Bobby Duggan (Clarecastle) for Collins (70+1).


1. Eoin Murphy (Glenmore)

2. Jackie Tyrrell (James Stephens)
3. Joey Holden (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
4. Shane Prendergast (Clara)

5. Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan)
6. Kieran Joyce (Rower Inistioge)
7. Conor O’Shea (Clara)

8. Lester Ryan (Clara)
9. Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro)

10. Walter Walsh (Tullogher Rosbercon)
11. T J Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
12. Kevin Kelly (St Patricks)

13. John Power (Carickshock)
14. Jonjo Farrell (Thomastown)
15. Richie Hogan (Danesfort)


17. Brian Kennedy (St Lachtain’s) for Tyrrell (22)
25. Liam Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge) for O’Shea (55)
24. Chris Bolger (Clara) for Kelly (64).

Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).

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