Clare 1-15 Kilkenny 3-10, Ennis
Clare lost a golden chance to reach the knockout stages of the Allianz Hurling League as they were beaten 3-10 to 1-15 by an injury-ravaged Kilkenny side at Cusack Park.
16 wides diluted Clare’s scoring potential as Aidan Fogarty, Ger Aylward and Lester Ryan grabbed goals for the All-Ireland champions with Colin Ryan hitting 11 points for the Banner men.
The result keeps the Cats well in the hunt for a semi-final spot despite two opening round defeats.
The piercing cold in Ennis did not dissuade a considerable crowd in their interest in this hard-hitting Division 1A tie. Level on six separate occasions in the first half, the sides were separated by a brilliantly-executed goal by Lester Ryan just before half-time.
Kilkenny, missing many of the All-Ireland winning team including their entire full-back line, were quick of the mark through Richie Hogan before Clare responded.
The first goal of the match was sent to the net by Colm Galvin with Ger Aylward matching this two minutes later. The remainder of the first half was nip and tuck with both sides unlucky not to add to their goal tally.
Free-taker Colin Ryan was the scorer-in-chief for Davy Fitzgerald's men who managed just 1-5 from play over the game.
Brian Hogan was imperious at centre-back for Kilkenny and Conor Fogarty also impressed in the opening half for the visitors.
Shane O'Donnell was causing numerous problems for Kilkenny but his colleagues in the forward division were unable to finish his good build-up work. He won a number of frees converted by Ryan.
At the interval, Kilkenny would have been more than satisfied to hold a 2-7 to 1-7 lead after playing well below par.
Clare squandered numerous scoring chances early in the second half despite ample possession, before Colin Ryan pointed a welcome free. O'Donnell was the key forward causing trouble for the Kilkenny rearguard, winning frees and setting up colleagues.
The first Kilkenny score of the second half did not materialise until Aidan Fogarty's 50th-minute goal. Tony Kelly and Ryan (0-2f) left the minimum between the sides with 15 minutes remaining.
Kilkenny managed only 1-3 in the second half with their three points coming from Eoin Larkin placed balls between the 58th and 64th minutes.
This left Clare chasing a three-point deficit for the remainder of the game. However, despite incessant pressure by the home side, the Kilkenny defence stood firm and conceded just three points from Ryan (0-2) and Darach Honan.
In the final analysis, Clare will bemoan those 16 wides, with twelve of them coming in the second half.
The threat around the Clare goal posed by Kilkenny proved the difference come the final whistle, much to the bitter disappointment of the home support.
CLARE: Patrick Kelly; Domhnall O'Donovan, David McInerney, Seadna Morey; Brendan Bugler, Patrick Donnellan, Patrick O'Connor; Conor Ryan, Nicky O'Connell; Colm Galvin (1-0), Tony Kelly (0-1), Colin Ryan (0-11, 0-10f); Fergal Lynch, Shane O'Donnell (0-1), John Conlon (0-1).
Subs used: Enda Barrett for McInerney, Darach Honan (0-1) for Lynch.
KILKENNY: Eoin Murphy; Paddy Hogan, Kieran Joyce, Conor Fogarty; Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan, Padraig Walsh; Lester Ryan (1-1), Michael Fennelly; Michael Rice, Richie Power, Eoin Larkin (0-5, 0-4f, 0-1 '65'); Ger Aylward (1-1), Richie Hogan (0-1), Aidan Fogarty (1-2).
Subs used: Colin Fennelly for Rice, Walter Walsh for Power, Matthew Ruth for Aylward.
Referee: Anthony Stapleton (Laois)