Goals from Wolfe Tones’ Aaron Cunningham and Aron Shanagher at either end of this entertaining contest got Clare’s league campaign back on track against a Kilkenny side in transition following a below par display against Cork. It had been feared that Kilkenny would leave with the spoils but what transpired was refreshingly unexpected.
Clare 2-19 Kilkenny 0-12 Allianz Hurling League Div 1A Round 2
By Michael O’Connor
Following Dublin’s shock win over Cork the previous evening it was imperative that Clare take something from this game before the visit of the Dubs to Cusack Park for a league showdown. What transpired was a hurling lesson handed out to Kilkenny, something that rarely happens!
In the opening half the Cats started with the stiff breeze at their backs but Clare came out with all cylinders firing and Aron Shanagher claimed the opening score after Jamie Shanahan’s long delivery. Clare’s early pressure paid off within seconds when Shanagher off-loaded to his clubmate Aaron Cunningham for a fine goal that deflected off Eoin Murphy before ending in the net.
Another Shanagher point from play followed as the Wolfe Tones clubmen were staking their claim to Clare’s key forward positions. For the next score Shanagher won a free that was pointed by David Reidy. Kilkenny’s Cillian Buckley had his side’s first attack but his effort at goal was wide of Donal Touhy’s goal after a blistering opening five minutes action.
Liam Blanchfield sent a scoreable free wide before TJ Reid’s free finally got the Cats off the mark after 8 minutes of action. David Reidy restored a 6 point lead 2 minutes later from a 65 as Clare’s long deliveries to the corners had the Kilkenny defence stretched. Conor Fogarty added the visitors’ second point. Reidy pointed again from a 13th minute free as spectators were clearly enjoying a hard, fast game of hurling before another Reidy free stretched Clare seven clear after 18 minutes. TJ Reid responded with a like score almost immediately.
David Reidy worked hard to hold onto possession before offloading to David Fitzgerald and his effort sneaked inside the posts after 22 minutes to leave Kilkenny trailing by 1-7 to 0-3. TJ Reid struck another successful Kilkenny free as the game entered the final ten minutes of the opening half. Donal Touhy saved a goal-bound effort but Conor Fogarty was on hand for a point to narrow the gap to five. David Reidy’s well struck shot struck the post and the rebound was sent wide.
Goalkeeper Eoin Murphy sent over a huge free from well inside his own half. Clare still needed scores to stem the tide and up popped Podge Collins in the 31st minute. Clare 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 which was sent over by Reid. The Ballyhale Shamrocks star added another point, this time from play towards the end of injury time leaving Clare 1-9 to 0-8 interval leaders.
David Reidy had the first scoring chance of the new half after a foul on Cathal Malone and the Éire Óg man made no mistake two minutes in as Richie Hogan was now at centre forward. TJ Reid narrowed the deficit to four while Cillian Buckley’s great score 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.
Richie Leahy and Podge Collins exchanged scores in the 51st minute as the Clare forward line appeared to be faltering under pressure, however Kilkenny failed to make inroads as substitute Cathal McInerney won a valuable point after 53 minutes, 1-13 to 0-11 before scores from Reidy (free) and Cathal McInerney by the 58th minute. Cian Dillon conceded a penalty to Kilkenny but TJ Reid’s effort was brilliantly saved by Donal Touhy at the expense of a 65 which was sent over by Reid after 62 minutes.
John Conlon and Shanagher (free) added to Clare’s tally after a foul on McInerney secured the win with 7 minutes remaining as Clare moved ahead by 1-17 to 0-12. The match winning score came when Cathal McInerney passed to Malone who released the ball to Shanagher for an expertly taken goal. Jason McCarthy pointed within 20 seconds leaving Clare double scores ahead ensuring parity with Kilkenny, Dublin and Cork for what could end up a relegation dogfight.