Happy ending for Clare under-21s

Happy ending for Clare under-21s

Clare 0-15 Kilkenny 0-14

Clare captured their first ever Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling title as a 60th minute point from Cormac O'Donovan point pushed them to a slender win over Kilkenny at Croke Park.

Clonlara twin O'Donovan was in superb form in the second half, scoring two vital points as John Minogue's charges dethroned the reigning champions.

In one of the closest finals in years, the sides gave it their all and were level on nine occasions - including four times in the opening half.

Kilkenny drew first blood. Michael Walsh's side settled well and midfielder Mark Kelly slotted over their first point after a minute-and-a-half.

But this was a game where Clare continually stepped up to the mark.

They hit three of the next four points, with Colin Ryan notching two pointed frees and Caimin Morey also scored to ensure a 0-3 to 0-2 lead by the 11th minute.

The Cats were eager to bounce back quickly and they registered a brace of John Mulhall points, to a lone Clare point from Colin Ryan.

But Newmarket-on-Fergus clubman Ryan was outstanding over the second quarter with four further points as the Banner County claimed a 0-8 to 0-6 interval lead.

Colin Fennelly was the player to keep the Cats in touch.

Clare's defence really came under huge pressure on the restart with Kilkenny's attack firing on all cylinders.

The Cats grabbed three unanswered points within seven minutes of the restart as scores from Richie Hogan, James Nolan and Colin Fennelly saw them take a 0-9 to 0-8 lead.

However, eager Clare failed to wilt and although Kilkenny performed a successful man-marking job on Darach Honan - holding the Clonlara ace scoreless - the Banner youngsters showed tremendous spirit and no end of match-winning guile.

Clare answered the questions posed of them, with Ryan finishing with an impressive tally of nine points.

Richie Hogan and Mark Kelly did their best to keep Kilkenny ticking over with scores, but nothing could stop a famous Clare win.

Late scores from Ryan and midfielder O'Donovan saw Minogue's well-drilled panel make history.

After the game, in front of thousands of Clare supporters on the pitch below, Clare captain Ciaran O'Doherty accepted the Rock of Cashel trophy from GAA President Christy Cooney.

CLARE: D Tuohy; E Glynn, C Dillon, C O’Doherty; D O’Donovan, N O’Connell, J Gunning; E Barrett, C O’Donovan (0-2); C Morley (0-1), J Conlon (0-3), S Collins; C Tierney, D Honan, C Ryan (0-9, 0-6f, 0-1 '65').

Subs used: C McGrath for Tierney (44mins), P O'Connor for Morley (49), E Hayes for Gunning (53).

KILKENNY: C McGrath; P Murphy, P Nolan, C Fogarty; L Ryan, D Langton, M Walsh; M Kelly (0-2), L Ryan; C Fennelly (0-3), M Bergin, J Mulhall (0-2); R Hogan (0-5, 0-1f), JJ Farrell, J Nolan (0-2).

Subs used: N Cleere for Bergin (49mins).

Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork).

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