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Thriller in Ennis as Clare come out on top.

Clare: 4-20, Kilkenny: 1-25

Eanna O’Reilly

Kilkenny’s unbeaten run in the 2021 national league came to an end at Cusack Park in Ennis today, as the home side came out on top in a goal fest. The Banner claimed their third league win in a row for a very positive finish to the league. It was undoubtedly their goal scoring ability which allowed them to take the spoils, with Tony Kelly (2), David Reidy and Aron Shanagher raising their green flags on the day.

The game began very evenly, with David McInerney and Richie Leahy getting points at either end. Tony Kelly then pointed his first free, while Eoin Cody equalised once again. Diarmuid Ryan soon put the home side back in front with his first point. David Reidy and Aidan McCarthy added scores for the home side before Kelly hit the net for the first time. It was a brilliant finish from the Ballyea man from the ‘21 to the corner of the net.

Just after the water break, things got worse for Kilkenny. Ian Galvin was brought down in the square by Paddy Deegan and Kelly stepped up to blast the penalty to the net. Clare had opened up a 2-6 to 0-5 lead and were in control. Kilkenny had to hit back and got the next three points, through TJ Reid (free), Adrian Mullen and Walter Walsh.

Aidan McCarthy then got his second point for Clare, but the Cats were determined to get back into the game. Billy Ryan and Adrian Mullen got the next two points for the Cats, as they narrowed the margin to three points.

Mark Rodgers and TJ Reid exchanged points at either end, before the Cats finished the first half very strongly. Richie Reid and TJ Reid pointed to reduce the gap to just a point. This left the score at 2-9 to 0-14 and Kilkenny seemed to have turned around the momentum. Clare began well in the second half, with Reidy and Ryan getting points, before the Cats replied with two from Reid and David Blanchfield.

Kilkenny were in the driving seat and pulled ahead when Alan Murphy and Eoin Cody (2) saw them hit 0-5 without reply. Eoin Cody was on fire for the Cats and added another good score from the left wing to put them ahead by 0-21 to 2-13 at the water break.

Clare needed leadership and David Reidy stepped up to score a brilliant individual goal to spark them into life. The Banner hit the net again when Aron Shanagher was set up by Ryan Taylor and finished with a first-time strike to the net. Amazingly, Kilkenny hit back when Mossy Keoghan blasted a goal at then other end.

TJ Reid showed his class to hit two frees and a ’65 over the bar to give the Cats the lead again. It was anyone’s game in Cusack Park, but Tony Kelly and Gary Cooney hit two points each for the Banner in the dying minutes. Reid and Cody hit back with points for Kilkenny, but Shane Golden and Taylor added points to seal the win for Clare, after a brilliant contest in Ennis.

Clare: E. Quilligan, A. Fitzgerald, C. Cleary, R. Hayes; D. Ryan (0-3), J. Conlon, D. McInerney (0-1); T. Kelly (2-5, 1-0 pen. 0-5 frees), C. Galvin; C. Malone, D. Reidy (1-2), A. McCarthy (0-3); I. Galvin, A. Shanagher (1-1), M. Rodgers (0-1). Subs: P. Flanagan for Fitzgerald (5 mins), D. Fitzgerald for McInerney (30 mins), D. McMahon for C. Galvin (49 mins), R. Taylor (0-1) for I. Galvin (50 mins), G. Cooney (0-2) for Rodgers (63 mins), S. Golden (0-1) for Shanagher (63 mins).

Kilkenny: E. Murphy, T. Walsh, H. Lawlor, P. Deegan; D. Corcoran, P. Walsh, C. Browne; R. Reid (0-3), R. Leahy (0-1); A. Mullen (0-3), W. Walsh (0-1), B. Ryan (0-2); J. Bergin, TJ Reid (0-9, 0-7 frees, 0-2 ‘65s), E. Cody (0-4). Subs: M. Keoghan (1-0) for W. Walsh (33 mins, Blood), M Carey (0-1) for Mullen (35 mins, Blood), C. Wallace for T. Walsh (HT), D. Blanchfield (0-1) for Leahy (HT), N. Brassil for Ryan (HT), L. Blanchfield for Bergin (60 mins), C. Buckley for R. Reid (65).

Ref: J. Murphy (Limerick).

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