/ GAA

Clare 2-28 Antrim 0-12

Updated: Saturday, 14 Sep 2013 23:29 | Comments

Clare captain Paul Flanagan with the trophy Clare's Davy O'Halloran scores his sides first goal
Clare captain Paul Flanagan with the trophy Clare's Davy O'Halloran scores his sides first goal

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Clare claimed back-to-back Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland Under-21 hurling titles, following a 2-28 to 0-12 win over Antrim at Semple Stadium.

The Banner County led throughout, and held a 2-16 to 0-04 interval advantage with Davy O'Halloran and Shane O'Donnell netting their goals.

Clare opened up a 22-point lead inside seven minutes of the restart, and although Antrim worked hard with scores from Chris McGuinness, Ciaran Clarke and Niall McKenna, the reigning champions weren't going to be beaten.

Cathal O'Connell led the charge for the Munster outfit with 11 points, including ten from placed balls.

Antrim made one change to their side from the semi-final win over Wexford, with Chris McGuinness coming into defence in place of St John's Ciarán Johnston.

Clare opted for the same line-up named midweek, with four of the side which started the drawn All-Ireland Senior final against Cork last weekend handed starts.

David McInerney, Colm Galvin, Tony Kelly and Padraic Collins were all included in the Banner line-up.

A crowd 11,148 watched on in a game where Galvin and Kelly proved to be impressive in the midfield, scoring three points each, including two each in the opening half.

Clare ran at the Antrim defence from the off, with full-back Matthew Donnelly and Chris McGuinness handed yellow cards inside the opening three minutes, as the Saffrons rearguard found it hard to cope in the initial stages.

Antrim went two points in arrears after five minutes, with O'Connell firing two early frees over for Clare.

Conor McCann opened Antrim's account after seven minutes, and although the scoreline stood at 0-04 to 0-02 after 11-and-a-half minutes, the Saffrons failed to score again for a further 13 minutes as Clare exerted firm control.

Antrim's use of the short puck-out strategy was not proving fruitful with the Saffrons particularly caught in the 20th minute, as Davy O'Halloran controlled possession from Ger Dixon's puck-out and fired the reigning champions to a 0-13 to 0-02 lead.

O'Halloran's score came in a spell which saw Clare score 1-10 without reply, with O'Connell deadly accurate from placed-balls, while O'Halloran fired the Banner's opening goal in the 23rd minute.

The Éire Óg Ennis clubman left Conal Morgan in his wake as he bore down on goals and bounced the ball, before giving Antrim goalkeeper Ger Dixon little chance as Clare moved 1-13 to 0-02 ahead.

Tony Kelly edged Clare further ahead a minute later, and although Ciarán Clarke replied after good work by Saffrons skipper Jackson McGreevey, Clare continued to pile on the pressure.

O'Connell and Galvin added further points, before Shane O'Donnell's 27th minute goal gave Clare a 2-16 to 0-03 lead.

Antrim worked hard in the closing minutes of the half for a score and were eventually rewarded, with Clarke slotting over a sideline cut before the break, to ensure a 2-16 to 0-04 half-time scoreline.

Antrim were caught napping after the break, Kelly and O'Halloran firing a point each inside a minute of the restart.

A Stephen McAfee point settled the Saffrons, but they still found it hard to cope with a pacey Clare attack.

Clarke showed great pace of his own in the 35th minute, as he forced Clare keeper Ronan Taffe to make a fine save, after a rasping goal shot.

Scores from O'Connell and O'Halloran handed Clare a 22-point lead in the 37th minute, but Antrim failed to give up.

Clarke, Chris McGuinness and Niall McKenna pegged back points for the Saffrons, while at the opposite end it could have been worse for the Ulster side but for the brilliance of Dixon who pulled off fine saves in the 46th and 56th minutes.

The Cuchulanns clubman denied Cathal Malone at the start of the second quarter, while the inrushing Seadna Morey was also rebuffed with three minutes left on the clock.

Half-back Morey was one of Clare's outstanding players in this game, with two excellent points from play.

Morey's second point handed Clare a 2-25 to 0-10 lead.

Antrim worked hard late on with Clarke and substitute Michael Bradley taking scores, but it was too little too late as Clare powered to a 22-point win.

After the game GAA President Liam O'Neill presented Clare captain Paul Flanagan with the Cross of Cashel trophy, while corner-forward Davy O'Halloran claimed the Man of the Match award.

Clare: R Taffe, P Flanagan, D McInerney, J Browne, S Morey (0-02), A O'Neill (0-01, 1f), S O'Halloran, C Galvin (0-03), T Kelly (0-03), P Duggan, P Collins, C Malone (0-02), C O'Connell (0-11, 10f), S O'Donnell (1-00), D O'Halloran (1-04).

Subs: K Lynch for Kelly (33), J Colleran (0-01) for McInerney (33), E Boyce (0-01) for Galvin (36), N Arthur for Collins (36), A Cunningham for O'Donnell (49).

Antrim: G Dixon, C Morgan, M Donnelly, T Coyle, T Ó Ciaráin, P McNaughton, C McGuinness (0-01), J McGreevey (0-01), E Campbell, S Dooey, S McAfee (0-01), N McKenna (0-01, 1f), D McKernan, C McCann (0-01), C Clarke (0-06, 4f, 1sl).

Subs: D Kearney for Ó Ciaráin (22), S Beatty for Dooey (HT), M Bradley (0-01) for Donnelly (HT), M Dudley for McKernan (39), D McGuinness for McCann (54).

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)

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