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And then there were four!

It’s the first of the All-Ireland SHC semi-final days as Kilkenny and Clare battle it out for a place in the decider. It’s the three-in-a-row Leinster champions versus the in-form team of the championship.

We’ll have team line-ups for you shortly and any team news as we edge towards the 5.30pm throw-in.

Some pre-match reading to get you warmed up for the clash at Croker.

Maurice Brosnan takes a look at the playing career of Kilkenny manager Brian Cody

Sinéad Farrell reviews the impact of Peter Duggan and Shane O’Donnell since their return to the Clare team this year.

And Fintan O’Toole, who is our main man reporting in Croke Park today, considers the importance of O’Loughlin Gaels trio Huw Lawlor, Mikey Butler and Paddy Deegan to the Kilkenny defence.

Here are the teams that have been named, starting with Kilkenny

Kilkenny

1. Eoin Murphy (Glenmore)

2. Mikey Butler (O’Loughlin Gaels), 3. Huw Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels), 4. Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan)

5. Michael Carey (Young Irelands), 6. Richie Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks – captain), 7. Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels)

8. Adrian Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks), 9. Conor Browne (James Stephens)

10. Eoin Cody (Ballyhale Shamrocks), 11. Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan), 12. TJ Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks)

13. Billy Ryan (Graigue-Ballycallan), 14. Martin Keoghan (Tullaroan), 15. Cian Kenny (James Stephens) 

And here is the Clare starting XV:

Clare

1. Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)

2. Rory Hayes (Shannon Wolfe Tones), 3. Conor Cleary (St Joseph’s Miltown), 4. Paul Flanagan (Ballyea)

5. Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe), 6. John Conlon (Clonlara), 7. David McInerney (Tulla)

8. David Fitzgerald (Inagh/Kilnamona), 9. David Reidy (Éire Óg Ennis)

10. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge), 11. Tony Kelly (Ballyea), 12. Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg)

13. Ian Galvin (Clonlara), 14. Peter Duggan (Clooney Quin), 15. Ryan Taylor (Clooney/Quin)

Interesting to note that Richie Hogan has been included in the Kilkenny match-day squad:

If you’d like to get involved in the coverage today, you can post your thoughts in the comment section below, or send a Tweet to myself on @sinead_farrell7 

Change on the Clare team ahead of throw-in

Paidi Fitzpatrick comes in to start for John Conlon who has been ruled out through injury.

Interesting contingency plan to have in place today

Kilkenny v Clare

The sides are finishing the pre-match parade. Almost ready to go now.

1 min: Kilkenny 0-1 Clare 0-0

First blood to Kilkenny as TJ Reid converts a long-range free.

1 min: Kilkenny 0-1 Clare 0-1

Brilliant response from Clare as David Fitzgerald splits the posts on the Davin End.

3 mins: Kilkenny 0-1 Clare 0-1

Cathal Malone attempts to send over a point from distance but his shot falls short into the paw of Kilkenny keeper Eoin Murphy.

His clearance goes out over the sideline but Clare don’t come away with anything from the sideline cut.

4 mins: Kilkenny 0-2 Clare 0-2

Slick footwork from Shane O’Donnell as he dances inside the Kilkenny defence after grabbing possession from a ruck and glides his shot over the bar.

Adrian Mullen produces the response for Kilkenny.

6 mins: Kilkenny 0-2 Clare 0-2

Paidi Fitzgerald, who started for John Conlon, takes a shot at the posts but his effort sails wide. Very pacey start to the tie as expected.

7 mins: Kilkenny 0-3 Clare 0-2

Mullen links up with Reid brilliantly and drills it over to give Kilkenny the lead. Tony Kelly hits a wide at the other end.

9 mins: Kilkenny 0-4 Clare 0-2

Hawkeye required to determine if a shot from Eoin Cody at a narrow angle is a score. The Tá flashes up to give Kilkenny a two-point lead.

Some brilliant skill from Cody before squeezing his shot inside the post.

10 mins: Kilkenny 0-5 Clare 0-2

Reid slots over a second free to extend Kilkenny’s advantage. Brian Cody’s side are looking good as they settle into the tie.

Clare could do with a score to keep the board ticking over.

13 mins: Kilkenny 0-7 Clare 0-2

But it’s Kilkenny who get the next score as Eoin Cody strikes again. And Conor Browne adds to that with a lovely strike to put them five clear of the Banner. 

It’s all Kilkenny at the moment. They’re dominating the possession and making more of their chances in front of the posts.

14 mins: Kilkenny 0-8 Clare 0-3

Sniff of a goal chance for Kilkenny as Eoin Cody slips while taking a shot. His effort falls short and ball spills out from the break.

Clare clear the danger though and feed possession to David Fitzgerald who gets a badly needed score. But Kilkenny respond instantly through a point from TJ Reid.

16 mins: Kilkenny 0-8 Clare 0-3

Tony Kelly misses a free and that’s a point Clare really needed to cut the gap.

20 mins: Kilkenny 0-8 Clare 0-4

Massive point for Clare!

Brilliant work from Peter Duggan to provide the pass for Ryan Taylor and he pops it over.

21 mins: Kilkenny 0-9 Clare 0-5

TJ Reid and Diarmuid Ryan exchange points. The difference is still four points but Clare are getting a more of a return in the fight for possession.

22 mins: Kilkenny 0-10 Clare 0-5

Another TJ Reid free puts five between the sides. Clare are committing too many fouls and Reid is punishing them every time.

24 mins: Kilkenny 0-11 Clare 0-5

Ian Galvin hits Clare’s seventh wide. That’s a big tally of missed chances. At the other end, Adrian Mullen hits his third and pushes the advantage again.

Tony Kelly pops up again with another long-range effort, but again, it drifts wide.

26 mins: Kilkenny 0-12 Clare 0-5

Eoin Cody is terrorising the Clare defence. That’s a third point for him as Clare spring Aron Shanagher from the bench to replace Ian Galvin.

28 mins: Kilkenny 0-13 Clare 0-5

An unmarked Padraig Walsh has lots of time to consider his shot before calmly slotting the ball between the posts.

Kilkenny are playing with such an efficiency and speed that Clare can’t live with. They need to rack up some scores soon to stay in contention.

29 mins: Kilkenny 0-14 Clare 0-5

Cian Kenny adds his name to the list of scorers. This game has a bit of an ominous tone about it, but we’ve seen Clare rally from similar positions before.

They’ll need that if they want to stay in this match.

30 mins: Kilkenny 0-15 Clare 0-5

SAVE!

Super goalkeeping from Eibhear Quilligan to keep out a shot from TJ Reid who stormed through the Clare defence unopposed before trying to crack his shot into the bottom corner.

Kilkenny come away with a point but Clare have to draw some inspiration from that brilliant save.

32 mins: Kilkenny 0-16 Clare 0-6

Tony Kelly finally gets his name on the scoreboard and puts a slight dent in the gap. Padraig Walsh scores moments later to keep their noses well in front.

Clare can’t seem to get a break to get their game moving.

34 mins: Kilkenny 0-17 Clare 0-6

Mullen comes sniffing for a goal but the Clare defenders do very well to rob the ball back. They go on the counter-attack but a poor final pass sees possession come back to Kilkenny and Mullen finishes the move with a point.

Clare need that half-time break to reset.

Kilkenny 1-17 Clare 0-6

Martin Keoghan stings Clare with a goal that puts Kilkenny 14 points in front at the break. Quilligan tried his best to keep the shot out as the first attempt was half blocked but Keoghan raced in to sweep the ball over the line.

Clare have a mountain to climb in the second half. They’ve hit 11 wides and are really struggling to find a purple patch in this game.

Kilkenny 1-17 Clare 0-6

Kilkenny making a change before the start of the second half as Walter Walsh replaces Martin Keoghan.

Flag

Second-Half! Kilkenny 1-17 Clare 0-6

Clare have it all to do as the second half gets underway.

36 mins: Kilkenny 1-17 Clare 0-6

Kelly stands over a free at the midway line, straight in front of the posts. But his shot comes back off the post and Clare get nothing from the crumbs.

They needed that to get off to a good start.

37 mins: Kilkenny 1-17 Clare 0-8

Lovely support play from Clare as they work the ball up the field and finish with a point from Diarmuid Ryan.

Rory Hayes follows that up with a super effort from way down the field. 12 points between them now.

39 mins: Kilkenny 1-18 Clare 0-8

A Reid free gives Kilkenny some space again. Rory Hayes races up the field from the puckout and gets into a scoreable position but he can’t steer his shot over the bar.

That just sums up Clare’s day.

40 mins: Kilkenny 1-18 Clare 0-9

TJ Reid commits a foul and this time, Kelly makes no mistake from the free bring the gap back to 12.

42 mins: Kilkenny 1-19 Clare 0-10

Massive goal chance for Kilkenny after an awesome run from Billy Ryan. He fizzes his shot over the bar. David McInerney scores at the other end.

44 mins: Kilkenny 2-19 Clare 0-11

Kelly scores a free but what about that goal from Cian Kenny? He slips inside the Clare cover and collects a pass before sprinting through to whip his shot past Eibhear Quilligan.

This is a demolition effort from the Cats, and they have one foot now in the final.

49 mins: Kilkenny 2-20 Clare 0-13

Walter Walsh picks off a point as Clare’s Peter Duggan has been called ashore. Shane O’Donnell fetches the ball brilliantly and scores over his shoulder.

52 mins: Kilkenny 2-20 Clare 0-15

O’Donnell pops up with his third point of the day, and David Fitzgerald adds to that with another fine point.

Do they have enough time to produce a miracle comeback?

53 mins: Kilkenny 2-21 Clare 0-16

Adrian Mullen and Mark Rodgers trade points as the gap now stands at 11.

54 mins: Kilkenny 2-21 Clare 0-17

Rodgers steps up again with another monstrous score. One more point would bring Clare out of double-score territory. It’s a huge ask but they have 16 minutes to do it.

56 mins: Kilkenny 2-22 Clare 0-17

TJ Reid converts another brilliant free to bring his tally to seven so far. 

 

58 mins: Kilkenny 2-22 Clare 0-17

Aron Shangher hits his side’s 17th wide of the game. Kilkenny only have four blanks beside their name. David Fitzgerald tries to solo through but possession is nipped away from him. 

 

60 mins: Kilkenny 2-24 Clare 0-17

1-2 for Cian Kenny as he sends the ball over from distance. Adrian Mullen then wins a free which is just target practise for TJ Reid.

63 mins: Kilkenny 2-24 Clare 0-18

Ryan Taylor hits it over from out near the Cusack Stand, his first of the day. But it looks like Clare are out of time against a Kilkenny team who had just too much for them today. 

65 mins: Kilkenny 2-25 Clare 0-19

SAVE!

Eoin Murphy produces an acrobatic reaction to a powerful effort from Diarmuid Ryan. Kilkenny win the break and work a point from the counter-attack.

Kelly hits his fourth of the day.

68 mins: Kilkenny 2-26 Clare 0-19

0-10 for TJ Reid as he makes it look so effortless. What a performance from the Kilkenny stalwart.

70 mins: Kilkenny 2-26 Clare 0-20

Three minutes of added time to be played and the seconds are winding down on Clare’s season.

 

Kilkenny 2-26 Clare 0-20

Utterly dominant!

What a performance from Kilkenny. They controlled that tie completely from the early stages of the first half. They bossed almost every line of the pitch and subdued all of Clare’s key men.

Before you go, have a read of Fintan O’Toole’s match report from Croke Park.

There’s not much else to say after that. Brian Cody proves once again that he’s one of the best managers of all time, as he guides another Kilkenny team to an All-Ireland final.

Clare will be disappointed that they didn’t bring more of a fight to Croke Park. Their wide tally was significant but it seem as though Kilkenny would have a response for everything they had.

Limerick and Galway will battle it out for the other spot in that final, and whoever prevails will have a major job ahead of them on 17 July.

Well, that’s all from us. Thanks for joining us today and we hope to have you with us again tomorrow for the other semi-final.

Bye for now!

cian-kenny-celebrates-scoring-a-goal Source: Evan Treacy/INPHO

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