Tony Kelly shows his class on a day when Clare hit top gear

Kelly’s tally of 1-15 included 1-6 from play as Clare dumped old boss Davy Fitzgerald out of the Championship.

Clare's Ryan Taylor competes with Kevin Foley.
Clare's Ryan Taylor competes with Kevin Foley.
Image: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Clare 1-21
Wexford 0-17

THE MATTER OF who will win the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2020 may be very much up in the air, but the race for Hurler of the Year already has a clear favourite, following a superb individual display from Clare’s Tony Kelly this afternoon in Portlaoise.

There was a lot to like about Clare’s performance, including some good intensity in the tackle, some excellent one-on-one defensive work up against Wexford’s main attacking threats, and the manner in which the kept their heads after a slow start – but the real quality was delivered by the Ballyea man, whose tally of 1-15 included 1-6 from play, and three of the best points you could hope to see just before half-time.

With a strong wind at their backs in the first-half, Clare needed to build an early lead but got no traction close to goal and at the first water break, their 0-3 to 0-2 lead looked woefully inadequate.

The tense and fractious nature of the contest meant it was a very stop start affair, despite referee Liam Gordon doing his best to try and keep the play going.

Some wonderful points from Jason McCarthy and Colin Guilfoyle helped Clare gain a little bit of breathing room, but it was Tony Kelly’s three points before half-time that really lit up this otherwise dismal affair. Twice he shot over the bar from the two sidelines, first the right and then the left, each time running away from goal and shooting over his shoulder.

As if that wasn’t enough, he then sliced a shot over the bar from just beside the corner flag coming up to half-time, using the wind and the spin of the ball to create an angle where none existed.

Wexford’s hurling was disjointed and error prone, and they couldn’t find a way to bring their attackers into the game. It was instructive that their two wing-backs (Shaun Murphy and Paudie Foley) along with the sweeper (Kevin Foley) amassed a greater total number of points from play than their forwards over the course of the game, as they were reduced to pot shots from distance more often than not.

disappointed-wexford-players-leave-the-pitch Wexford players walk off dejected after their comprehensive loss. Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Having trailed 0-13 to 0-3 at half-time, the Model County did work their way back into the tie and cut the gap to eight points on a couple of occasions, but they couldn’t stop the bleeding at the other end – in the main because of the brilliance of Kelly, who kept coming up with majestic points, before then running 40 metres with the ball and slamming it into the bottom corner of the net with a quarter of an hour of normal time remaining.  

Wexford sent for Lee Chin in a bid to salvage something and they tried to scramble their way in for a goal, but a handful of rucks and mauls in the large square always seemed to end with either Eibhear Quilligan or a Clare defender coming out with the ball, thus preserving the Banner County’s comfortable margin, and their place in the championship.

Scorers for Clare: Tony Kelly 1-15 (0-8f, 0-1 65), Jason McCarthy 0-2, Colin Guilfoyle, Cathal Malone, Diarmuid Ryan and David Fitzgerald 0-1 each.  

Scorers for Wexford: Paul Morris 0-6 (0-5f), Paudie Foley (0-1f) & Shaun Murphy 0-3 each, Rory O’Connor 0-2, Conor McDonald, Kevin Foley & David Dunne 0-1 each.  


Eibhear Quilligan (Feakle)

7. Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge)
3. Conor Cleary (St. Joseph’s Doora Barefield)
2. Rory Hayes (Wolfe Tones)

19. Patrick O’Connor (Tubber)
6. Aidan McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona)
7. Stephen O’Halloran (Clarecastle)

9. Tony Kelly (Ballyea)
23. Jason McCarthy (Inagh-Kilnamona)

10. Cathal Malone (Sixmilebridge)
18. David Fitzgerald (Inagh-Kilnamona)
11. David Reidy (Éire Óg)

12. Colin Guilfoyle (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
13. Shane O’Donnell (Éire Óg)
15. Ryan Taylor (Clooney-Quin)


17. Diarmuid Ryan (Cratloe) for Guilfoyle (half-time)
24. Páidí Fitzpatrick (Sixmilebridge) for McCarthy (60)
20. Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones) for Reidy (68)
22. Cathal McInerney (Cratloe) for Taylor (70+4) 

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1. Mark Fanning (Glynn-Barntown)

2. Simon Donohue (Shelmaliers)
3. Liam Ryan (Rapparees)
4. Joe O’Connor (St. Martin’s)

5. Paudie Foley (Crossabeg-Ballymurn)
8. Diarmuid O’Keeffe (St. Anne’s)
7. Shaun Murphy (Oulart-The Ballagh)

6. Matthew O’Hanlon (St. James)
12. Aidan Nolan (Halfway House-Bunclody)

10. Liam Óg McGovern (St. Anne’s)
14. Conor McDonald (Naomh Éanna)
15. Paul Morris (Ferns St. Aidan’s)

11. Rory O’Connor (St. Martin’s)
18. Jack O’Connor (St Martin’s)
13. Kevin Foley (Rapparees)


17           Damien Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien) for Donohoe (37)
9             Lee Chin (Faythe Harriers) for Jack O’Connor (56)
22           Mikie Dwyer (St. Mogue’s) for McGovern (57)
21           David Dunne (Davidstown-Courtnacuddy) for Nolan (61)
18           Shane Reck  (Oylegate-Glenbrien) for Joe O’Connor (65)

Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway)

About the author:

Kevin Egan

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