By Michael O Connor.
Clare's league assault is back on track after a week of gloom had transcended the hurling heartland following a below par display against Cork. The common perception existed that Kilkenny would heap more early season misery. What emerged was quite different and refreshing.
Following the supposed shock win over Cork by Dublin the previous evening a result in this game was now imperative for Clare if Dublin were to get a result in another game prior to the showdown with Dublin in Cusack Park. What transpired was a hurling lesson handed out to Kilkenny, a reality that rarely happens
The Kilkenny warm up on pitch consisted of one man with a bag of sliotars whilst Clare had an impressive set up waiting for the team upon arrival onto the pitch.
Kilkenny possessed the stiff breeze for the opening half as Aaron Shanagher had the opening score after a long delivery from Jamie Shanahan. The Clare team were in front by four seconds later after a one two with Shanagher ended with Aaron Cunningham goaling to be followed by another Aaron Shanagher point from play as the Wolfe Tones clubmen were in control. Shanagher continued this good vein of from winning a free pointed by David Reidy. Kilkenny's Cillian Buckley had the first attack for his side but his goal effort was wide of Donal Touhy's goal after a blistering opening five minutes action. Liam Blanchfield sent a scorable free wide before TJ Reid with a free finally got Clare off the mark after 8 minutes action in Cusack Park.
David Reidy restored a 6 point lead after 10 minutes from a convertd 65 as Clare with long deliveries into the corner were stretchng Kilkenny until they got to grips with is as Conor Fogarty added the visitors second score. David Reidy added another pointed free in the 13th minute as both sides gave spectators much to enjoy with hard fast hurling before once again another David Reidy free stretched Clare seven clear after 18 minutes only for TJ Reid to respond with a like score almost immediately.
David Reidy worked hard to hold onto possession before offloading to David Fitzgerald and his effort sneaked in between the posts after 22 minutes as Kilkenny trailed (1-7) to (0-3) yet staying in close contact. TJ Reid hit back with another successful Kilkenny free as the game entered the final ten minutes of the opening half. Donal Touhy ran out over a incoming ball and it ended up with Conor Fogarty putting the ball over the bar to narrow the Clare lead to five as David Fitzgerald hit Clare's first wide in the 27th minute. David Reidy ended a great move hitting the post and the rebound was sent wide by Aron Shanagher who first timed. Eoin Murphy sent over a huge free from inside his own half and now Clare who looked so dynamic needed scores from any angle to stem the tide and up popped Podge Collins in the 31st minute. Again old failings emerged as Clare over elaborated and lost a number of clear point chances. This did not unduly matter to them on the day as they held a six point lead entering injury time in the first half as Donal Touhy made a double save from Richie Leahy conceding a 65 second over by Reid. The Ballyhale shamrocks man added another score, this time from play near the end of injury time to leave Clare nervous (1-9) to (0-8) interval leaders.
David Reidy had the first scoring chance of the new half after Cathal Malone was heavily fouled and the Eire-og made no mistake two minutes into the second half as Richie Hogan was now at centre forward. TJ Reid narrowed the deficit to four once more before a great score from Cillian Buckley left just the goal in it after 41 minutes before Aron Shanagher hit back for his third score of the day. John Conlon was now out the field and working hard to win the dirty ball to keep Clare in contention in front of 7395 spectators. The regularity of scores collapsed for the intervening ten minutes until Richie Leahy and Podge Collins exchanged scores in the 51st minute as the Clare forward line appeared to be failing under pressure but on the other hand Kilkenny could not make and inroads as substitute Cathal McInerney scored a valuable point after 53 minutes as Clare led (1-13) to (0-11). Clare added scores from Reidy (free) and Cathal McInerney by the 58th minute.
Kilkenny won a penalty conceded by Cian Dillon but TJ Reid's effort was stopped by Donal Touhy at the expense of a 65 sent over by Reid after 62 minutes. John Conlon and Shanager (free) after foul on McInerney secured the win with 7 minutes of normal time remaining as Clare stretched (1-17) to (0-12) ahead. The match winning score came from McInerney setting up Malone who raced through before releasing Shanagher for a well taken goal. Jason McCarthy added a point within 20 seconds as Clare were now double scores ahead and ensuring parity with Kilkenny Dublin and Cork in what could be a relegation dogfight.
Scorers for Clare: David Reidy (6f, 1’65) 0-7; Aron Shanagher (1f) 1-4; Aaron Cunnngham 1-0; Podge Collins, Cathal McInerney 0-2 each; David Fitzgerald, John Conlon, Jason McCarthy, Peter Duggan (’65) 0-1 each
Scorers for Kilkenny: TJ Reid (4f, 2’65) 0-7; Conor Fogarty 0-2; Eoin Murphy (1f), Cillian Buckley, Richie Leahy 0-1 each
CLARE: Donal Touhy, Oisin O Brien, Cian Dillon, Seadna Morey, Brendan Bugler, Conor Cleary, David Fitzgerald, Jamie Shanahan, David Reidy , Aaron Cunningham, Podge Collins, Cathal Malone, Aaron Shanagher, John Conlon, Shane O Donnell. Subs: Cathal McInerney for Cunningham, Jason McCarthy for Reidy, Peter Duggan for Malone, Pat Donnellan for Bugler, Shane Golden for Shanahan,
KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy, Evan Cody, Padraig Walsh Conor O Shea, Joey Holden, Paul Murphy, Kieran Joyce, Conor Fogarty, Cillian Buckley, Liam Blanchfield, TJ Reid, Richie Leahy, Richie Hogan, Walter Walsh, Kevin Kelly. Subs: John Joe Farrell for W Walsh, Shane Prendergast for Cody, James Maher for Hogan, Ollie Walsh for Kelly
Referee: James Owens