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©INPHO/Cathal Noonan Clare goalkeeper Donal Tuohy and Cian Dillon with Walter Walsh of Kilkenny watch the sliotar go just wide of the goal.
# Close encounter
Clare edge Kilkenny in Ennis thriller
The All-Ireland champions had a point to spare over the Cats.

Clare 1-16

Kilkenny 0-18

Clare secured their first competitive victory over Kilkenny in nine years this afternoon as the All-Ireland champions edged out their league equivalents in Cusack Park, Ennis.

Far from being a cobweb blowing league opener, it was a full blooded seesaw affair in front of 10,125 that saw Clare set the pace for the majority before finally seeing off a stubborn Kilkenny challenge.

The hosts were settled by 1-5 from Colin Ryan in the opening quarter while Henry Shefflin kept Kilkenny within touching distance, mainly through frees.

When Ryan finally received assistance in the scoring stakes from John Conlon and Conor McGrath, Clare pushed 1-8 to 0-6 clear by the 26th minute.

However, inevitably it was the returning Shefflin who led a late revival, with five unanswered points increasing his tally to seven and ensuring parity at 1-08 to 0-11 at half-time.

The second half was equally as tense as the sides went score for score while Shefflin also had a penalty saved by goalkeeper Donal Tuohy in the 45th minute.

The defending champions did finally take the lead ten minutes later with a Padraig Walsh point but it only seemed to motivate the home side even further as three late points from Cathal O’Connell, Conor McGrath and Colin Ryan ensured a perfect start for the Banner.

Scorers for Clare: Colin Ryan 1-9 (7f), Conor McGrath 0-3, John Conlon 0-1, Patrick Donnellan 0-1, Colm Galvin 0-1, Cathal O’Connell 0-1
Scorers for Kilkenny: Henry Shefflin 0-12 (8f, 2’65), Walter Walsh 0-2, Padraig Walsh 0-2, Jonjoe Farrell 0-1, Colin Fennelly 0-1

CLARE: Donal Tuohy (Crusheen); Cian Dillon (Crusheen), David McInerney (Tulla), Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge); Patrick O’Connor (Tubber), Conor Ryan (Cratloe), Brendan Bugler (Whitegate); Patrick Donnellan (O’Callaghan’s Mills), Shane Golden (Sixmilebridge); Colin Ryan (Newmarket-on-Fergus), Tony Kelly (Ballyea), John Conlon (Clonlara); Conor McGrath (Cratloe), Shane O’Donnell (Éíre Óg), Colm Galvin (Clonlara)

Subs: Padraic Collins (Cratloe) for Kelly (48), Cathal O’Connell (Clonlara) for Bugler (55), Nicky O’Connell (Clonlara) for Golden (60)

KILKENNY: David Herity (Dunnamaggin); Conor Fogarty (Erin’s Own), Michael Walsh (Young Irelands), Brian Kennedy (St Lachtain’s); Joey Holden (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Lester Ryan (Clara), Paul Murphy (Danesfort); Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro), Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan); Henry Shefflin (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Colin Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Eoin Larkin (James Stephens); Jonjoe Farrell (Thomastown), Mark Kelly (O’Loughlin Gaels), Walter Walsh (Tullogher Rosbercon)

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Subs: Jackie Tyrell (James Stephens) for Fogarty (HT), Joe Brennan (St Patrick’s) for Kelly (53), Aidan Fogarty (Emeralds) for W. Walsh (65), Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan) for Buckley (65)

Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly)

Report by Eoin Brennan.

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