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Kilkenny pushed to the limit

posted 6 Sep 2010, 03:36 by Unknown user   [ updated 6 Sep 2010, 03:37 by Denis Tuohy Agricultural Consultant ]

Kilkenny 2-10 Clare 0-14

 

By Fintan O'Toole

 

Monday, September 06, 2010

 

IT was not as facile as their runaway last four win over Galway, but

after a white knuckle ride at Croke Park yesterday Kilkenny were crowned

All-Ireland minor hurling champions. Richie Mulrooney's charges were

made to work hard before securing yesterday's title as they atoned for

last season's final defeat. The manner in which they crushed Galway at

the semi-final stage last month left them unbackable favourites, but

Clare produced a wonderful performance that tested the Cats to the

limit. The Banner youngsters tore into the tie from the start and showed

scant regard for their opponent's reputations.

 

Clare settled quickly and bossed the first-half exchanges. When an

excellent point by wing-back Enda Boyce had them six clear by the half

hour mark it looked like a shock was on the cards.. But their opponents

refused to panic. They remained calm and composed, engineering a route

back into contention and seizing the openings that fell their way. A

quickfire burst of two points before the break, courtesy of John Power

from a placed ball and Michael Brennan from play, cut the gap to four

points (0-9 to 0-5) at the interval. Then came two goals which shaped

the outcome of this clash. The first arrived in the 35th minute when Ger

Aylward scooped up possession and off-loaded to corner-forward Michael

Brennan in space. The latter's finish was clinical as he shot low across

Clare goalkeeper Ronan Taaffe into the bottom corner of the net.

 

Seven minutes later and Kilkenny had another green flag with Brennan

once more at the heart of the move. Again it was Aylward who broke the

ball into space for Brennan to race onto and with the Clare defence in

close pursuit, Brennan intelligently opted to kick rather than strike

past Taaffe. The ball was destined for the net but its flight was

interrupted by Kilkenny substitute Paul Buggy, who got the finishing

touch before it crossed the line. It meant that the sides were level

(2-5 to 0-11) and the momentum was with the Leinster men. A lengthy

stoppage ensued after that second goal following a serious leg injury to

Clare corner-back Haulie Vaughan, but when play resumed it was obvious

Kilkenny had an extra pep in their step. They finally began to tap into

the hot streak of form that had swept them to GAA headquarters with

midfielder Kevin Kelly scything through for two points and Aylward

lashing over another.

 

Clare's resilience surfaced again in the finale. David O'Halloran buzzed

around the attack to claim two points, with John Power firing one in

between for Kilkenny. When substitute Aaron Cunningham knocked over a

point under pressure in the 58th minute, the margin between them was

wafer thin (2-9 to 0-14). Clare missed some chances in those final

minutes but credit also the Kilkenny defensive effort with Jason

Corcoran, Willie Phelan and Owen McGrath in sterling form. The coup de

grace was applied to the Cats victory when Brennan popped over a 64th

minute point after a searing run forward by Aylward had initiated the

opening.

 

That score copperfastened Kilkenny's success, but the fact they did not

depart with victory should not diminish the excellence of Clare's

performance. They played with hunger and determination, particularly in

the first-half as they obliterated Kilkenny in the aerial battles and

gobbled up multiple breaks around the middle third. Some of the game's

best performers wore saffron and blue jerseys. Paul Flanagan and Seadna

Morey were immense in the full-back line, Clare destroyed Kilkenny at

midfield courtesy of Colm Galvin and the excellent Tony Kelly, while

Paudge Collins and Jamie Shanahan were shone in the half-forward line.

 

A Collins point in the 9th minute tied the game at 0-2 apiece and for

the rest of the half Clare took over with O'Halloran, Daire Keane, Kelly

and Boyce all landing superb points. Clare even overcame the concession

of a contentious penalty in the 24th minute. The foul on Kevin Kelly was

soft but despite it clearly taking place outside the large

parallelogram, referee Anthony Stapleton awarded a penalty. Power was

denied a goal though by a combination of Ronan Taaffe and Paul Flanagan.

After that Clare were in buoyant mood but Kilkenny's savvy, maturity and

opportunism in front of goal just wore them down in the second-half.

 

Scorers for Kilkenny: M Brennan 1-2; P Buggy 1-0; O McGrath (two frees),

K Kelly, J Power (one free) 0-2 each; G Aylward, C Buckley 0-1 each.

 

Scorers for Clare: D O'Halloran 0-5 (three frees); T Kelly, P Collins, N

Arthur (two frees) 0-2 each; D Keane, E Boyce, A Cunningham 0-1 each.

 

Subs for Kilkenny: P Buggy for O'Hanrahan (37), P Holden for Walsh (39),

R Reid for Holden (56).

 

Subs for Clare: A Cunningham for Malone (41), A Mulready for Vaughan

(inj) (46), D McInerney for Arthur (58).

 

Referee: Anthony Stapleton (Laois)

 

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