Clare too hot for Antrim in U21 semi

Clare too hot for Antrim in U21 semi

Clare 4-23 Antrim 0-7

Clare demolished Antrim on their way to a massive 28 points win and a place in the All-Ireland 21 Hurling Championship final.

The Ulster champions were totally outclassed at Thurles, where they never looked like getting anywhere near the level their opponents are operating at.

However convincing this win may have been, it will have given Clare little assistance in the way of preparation for a much more testing assignment in the title decider.

Goals from Cathal McInerney, Conor McGrath (2) and substitute Niall Arthur put the gloss on an accomplished performance by the Munster champions as they cruised into the decider, never bothered by an Antrim side that failed to compete.

Seadna Morey, Cathal O’Connell, Tony Kelly and Padraic Collins all fired over points as Clare stamped their authority on the contest from an early stage.

Antrim were chasing shadows against a well drilled Banner outfit that was streets ahead in terms of technical ability and class.

Kevin McKiernan shot Antrim’s only point of the opening quarter, a score that brought only temporary respite, with O’Connell and Aaron Cunningham firing over quality points as they swept into a 10 points lead.

And they struck for their first goal in the 19th minute, Cunningham and Collins combining before McInerney beat James O’Mullan with a firmly struck shot.

The Ulster champions responded positively, with Michael Devlin and McKiernan hitting points, and Nigel Elliot getting in a shot at goal which was kept out by Ronan Taffe.

But Clare were soon back in full flight, and after O’Connell had brought his tally to six, Conor McGrath slipped in behind the Antrim defence to slip home Clare’s second goal in stoppage time, giving them a 2-14 to 0-3 interval lead.

Tony Kelly displayed delightful balance and skill to set up McGrath for his second goal six minutes into the second half, and when Kelly landed a long range score, the sides were separated by 22 points.

There was worse to come for the Ulster champions. After the excellent Morey had pushed forward to claim his second score, substitute Niall Arthur swept home Clare’s fourth goal, and a gaping 30 points gap had opened up.

Antrim did have a spell, during which they pulled back points through Conor Laverty, Eoin McAlonan and Devlin.

But any suggestion that Clare were content to play out time was dispelled when Peter Duggan fired in a shot which goalkeeper O’Mullan did well to keep out.

Kelly converted a ’65, and Arthur brought his tally to 1-2 to round off an emphatic performance by a Clare team which learned little from this outing, and will face a much different class of opponent in the All-Ireland final.

Clare scorers: C McGrath 2-0, N Arthur 1-2 (0-1f), C McInerney 1-0, C O’Connell 0-7 (2f), T Kelly 0-4 (2 ’65), P Collins, S Morey, A Cunningham 0-2 each, P O’Connor, S Golden, P Duggan, D O’Halloran 0-1 each.

Antrim scorers: M Devlin (1f), K McKiernan 0-2 each, J Black, E McAlonan, C Laverty 0-1 each.

Clare: R Taaffe, P Flanagan, D McInerney, K Ryan, S Morey, C Ryan, P O'Connor, C Galvin, S Golden, T Kelly, P Collins, A Cunningham, C O'Connell, C McGrath, C McInerney.

Subs: P Duggan for Cunningham, C Malone for Galvin, N Arthur for McGrath, D O’Halloran for O’Connor

Antrim: J O’Mullan, R McCloskey, R Gillan, C Morgan, J Black, M Donnelly, J McCouaig, A McKeown, F Donnelly, M Devlin, S Dobbin, K McKiernan, N Elliot, C McCann, D McCloskey.

Subs: E McAlonan for McKeown, C Murray for McCouaig, D McKinley for Dobbin, N McFadden for McCann.

Referee: A Stapleton (Laois).

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