/ GAA

Clare 2-17 Kilkenny 2-11

Updated: Sunday, 16 Sep 2012 16:45 | Comments

Cathal O'Connell celebrates hitting Clare's first goal of the game in Thurles
Cathal O'Connell celebrates hitting Clare's first goal of the game in Thurles

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Clare claimed their second All-Ireland U-21 Hurling Championship title with a 2-17 to 2-11 win over Kilkenny at Semple Stadium.

Cathal O’Connell’s early goal helped Clare to a six-point lead, but John Power (penalty) and Ger Aylward netted for the Cats to give them a 2-07 to 1-07 advantage at the interval.

Conor McGrath fired home a second Clare goal as the inspired Banner men turned on the style with a superb second-half display.

Patrick O’Connor turned in a wonderful defensive display, and O’Connell finished with a personal tally of 1-06 as the Cats were denied a 12th title.

Clare struck a major blow in the sixth minute when skipper Conor McGrath sent Cathal O’Connell in for a goal, the corner forward applying a clinical finish past Dylan Walsh.

The banner had earlier moved clear with points from Cathal McInerney, O’Connell and wing-back Seadna Morey.

John Power hoisted Kilkenny’s second score, but a couple of superb long-range efforts from Colm Galvin and Patrick O’Connor eased the Munster men in to a 1-05 to 0-02 lead.

But the Cats began to get some momentum going in the second quarter, with Geoff Brennan firing over along range point and Walter Walsh offering a glimpse of the goal threat they would carry when his fiercely struck shot was superbly deflected over the bar by goalkeeper Ronan Taaffe.

Kevin Kelly’s third point narrowed the gap to two, and in the final three minutes of the half, they stunned Clare with two goals.

First Power won the penalty that he blasted home himself, and in stoppage time Ger Aylward got in behind his marker to first time the sliotar to the net.

But Clare were back in front within four minutes of the restart. Intense pressure brought them four quick-fire points, with three of them from the stick of O’Connell.

With Morey and Patrick O’Connor performing heroically in their defence, Clare stepped up the intensity. And when skipper Conor McGrath smashed home their second goal on 44 minutes, they led by four.

O’Connor made a vital interception to deny Aylward as Kilkenny pressed in the closing stages for the goal that would bring them back into the game.

But with McGrath and Shane Golden having stretched the advantage to six, it was looking good for the Banner.

They could have had a third goal in the dying stages when O’Connell brought a superb save from Walsh, and there was another exceptional moment at the back when Paul Flanagan stepped in to repel the Cats once again.

Clare scorers: C O’Connell 1-06 (0-04f), C McGrath 1-01, C McInerney 0-04, T Kelly, A Cunningham, P O’Connor, S Morey, C Galvin, S Golden 0-01 each.

Kilkenny scorers: J Power 1-01 (1-0 pen), G Aylward 1-01, K Kelly 0-06 (3f), W Walsh 0-02, G Brennan 0-01.

Clare: Ronan Taaffe; Paul Flanagan, David McInerney, Killian Ryan; Patrick O’Connor, Conor Ryan, Seadna Morey; Colm Galvin, Shane Golden; Tony Kelly, Padraic Collins, Aaron Cunningham; Cathal McInerney, Conor McGrath, Cathal O'Connell.

Subs used: P Duggan for Cunningham, N Arthur for Collins.

Kilkenny: Dylan Walsh; Jason Corcoran, Willie Phelan, Brian Kennedy; Luke Harney, Richie Doyle, Joe Lyng; Geoff Brennan, Ollie Walsh; Kevin Kelly, Padraig Walsh, Cillian Buckley; Walter Walsh, John Power, Ger Aylward.

Subs used: M Gaffney for O Walsh, C Kenny for P Walsh.

Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork).

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