Aron Shanagher helped Clare to their first win of the Division 1A league for 2017 as they steamrolled a limp Kilkenny team who had no answer to the Banner’s second half dominance. The management team of Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor will be delighted with the effort, application and commitment of the players given the fact they were undercooked against Cork last time out.
Allianz Hurling League Div 1A Clare: 2-19 Kilkenny: 0-12 by James Mulvihill
The Banner faithful who turned up to Clare GAA headquarters can now look forward to the rest of this season’s campaign with optimism. Given the number of players unavailable through injury, travel commitments and Fitzgibbon Cup involvement, this is a massive boost for the squad as players put their hands up for future involvement especially for the championship.
There is still work to be done though as the Banner insisted on a short passing game which is good if it works but if it goes wrong it is very frustrating to watch. Players nor management won’t get carried away with this result but hopefully they will drive on from here.
Kilkenny came into this match as justifiable favourites given their display against Waterford last time out which the Deise edged after a tight battle. However it was clear by the second half that Kilkenny have few leaders in attack barring T.J Reid and Richie Hogan, two of the best players in the country over the last four seasons. Manager Brian Cody, who has achieved so much in this game, will have his work cut out in terms of finding players who will stand up in moments of crisis.
Clare started the game very well when corner forward Aron Shanagher scored the opening point from a narrow angle. The Wolfe Tones’ star was also on hand to set up his club mate Aaron Cunningham for the opening goal to give the Banner men a dream start. Shanagher extended the lead as he gave Evan Cody a roasting throughout the first half. Clare led by 1-03 to 0-00 after 4 minutes thanks to a placed ball from David Reidy.
Kilkenny created an opening when Cillian Buckley broke through the defence but his shot went wide, a let off for the Clare men. The Cats eventually got on the scoreboard thanks to a T.J Reid free however David Reidy responded with a 65 to extend the lead to six points after 10 minutes. Conor Fogarty had Kilkenny’s first point from play but their lack of discipline in their defence was haunting them as David Reidy slotted over two more frees to extend the lead to seven points midway through the half.
T.J Reid did his best to keep the Kilkenny challenge going as he put over another placed ball however David Fitzgerald responded after a good move involving John Conlon and David Reidy and the Inagh/Kilnamona man slotted it over the bar. Kilkenny got back into the game with the next three points thanks to T.J Reid (free), Conor Fogarty and a long-range free by goalkeeper Eoin Murphy. Podge Collins scored a timely point for the Banner men as he collected a breaking ball and split the posts with the minimum of fuss. T.J Reid had the last two points of the half from a 65 and from play to leave the interval score 1-09 to 0-08 for the Banner men.
David Reidy was first to score in the second half from a placed ball which was cancelled out by T.J Reid. Cillian Buckley and Aron Shanagher traded points to leave the score at 1-11 to 0-10 after 41 minutes. The Kilkenny crowd were getting frustrated with referee James Owens, who they thought was giving Clare frees that should have gone the other way.
Richie Leahy closed the gap to three points before Podge Collins added a great point while off balance. Cathal McInerney came on as a sub to score two points while David Reidy added another from a placed ball to leave the score at 1-15 to 0-11 after 57 minutes.
Kilkenny were given a lifeline when T.J Reid looked set to pull the trigger but was pulled down by full back Cian Dillon. Donal Tuohy pulled off a great save from the resulted penalty conceding a 65 which Reid converted as the game was slipping away from the Cats. John Conlon responded with a point for Clare and Aron Shanagher took over free-taking duties to extend the lead to eight points.
Clare sealed the victory with a well taken goal that started with Jason McCarthy winning a breaking ball in midfield delivering a good pass to Cathal McInerney, he handpassed to Cathal Malone who burst through the Kilkenny defence before picking out Aron Shanagher to dispatch the ball past Eoin Murphy. Jason McCarthy did very well when introduced scoring a great point after bursting through the middle. Another substitute, Peter Duggan, had the last say with a 65 as the Banner men ran out easy winners.
Clare will travel to the home of the All-Ireland champions Tipperary in the next round and will need to repeat this performance in Thurles to stand a chance of getting another two points on the board. Best for winners were Aron Shanagher, Conor Cleary, David Fitzgerald, Oisin O’Brien, Cathal McInerney and Jason McCarthy. Kilkenny will host Cork in the next round and will look to open their account in this campaign. They were best served by Padraig Walsh, Conor Fogarty and Kieran Joyce.