Clare's Minors squeeze past Dublin to reach final

Clare 0-20 Dublin 2-13

Clare 0-20 Dublin 2-13

Clare qualified for their first ESB All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship final since 1997, following a hard earned one-point win over Dublin at Croke Park this afternoon.

Clinging on to a two-point lead in injury-time, the Banner County were forced to defend tenaciously.

Dublin captain Robert Hardy's second minute injury time effort for a match winning goal, came off the upright and finished over the crossbar, with referee Eamonn Hassen blowing full-time from the resulting puck-out.

It was a nail-biting end to what was a superb game of hurling, but it was the eventual winners who showed plenty of initiative in the opening stages.

Gerry O'Connor's charges made a superb start to this game and raced 0-8 to 0-1 ahead by the 18th minute, aided by the assistance of a strong wind.

The full-forward line of David O'Halloran, Niall Arthur and Daire Keane cause Dublin's defence huge problems in the opening quarter, with midfielder Tony Kelly also contributing two excellent points from play from over 65 metres.

Keane rounded off Clare's scoring streak with his second point, although the Kilmaley clubman could have so easily poached the opening goal, with just Dublin net-minder Eamonn Dillon to beat.

Clare were firmly dominate at this point, but Dublin staged a strong rally to claim six of the next seven points to leave Clare edging a 0-9 to 0-7 scoreline at the break.

Glenn Whelan, Ciaran Kilkenny, Cormac Costello, Emmet Ó Conghaile and Dean Flood were all on target as the Metropolitans firmly put a disappointing opening quarter behind them.

Clare staged a powerful start to the second half, with a trio of points, including a brace from full-forward Arthur to edge 0-12 to 0-7 within five minutes of the restart.

Indeed they were unlucky not to add a goal to their tally with Cathal Malone denied two minutes after the restart by Dublin net-minder Dillon.

Despite Clare's goal efforts, it was Dublin who netted the opening three-pointer of this contest, with Ó Conghaile, doubling on a long ball from Cormac Costello to leave the score at 0-12 to 1-7 in the 37th minute.

Clare rallied once more, with a sixth Athur point edging the Banner to a four-point lead in the 40th minute.

Dublin failed to yield and cut the deficit to the minimum with seven minutes remaining, thanks to a goal from Costello after he rounded Clare corner-back Seadna Morey.

Clare responded with three quick-fire points, as Keane, Paudge Collins and Arthur claimed scores to push 0-20 to 2-10 ahead in the 55th minute.

But Dublin still had plenty of energy and resolve with Flood and substitute John Hetherton showing great composure late on to cut the deficit as the clock ticked over 60 minutes.

With two minutes of injury time to play there was still a chance for Dublin to pull this game out of the fire, and despite huge pressure late on - Hardy's late strike shaded inches above the crossbar - as Clare held out for a slender win.

CLARE: R Taffe; H Vaughan, P Flanagan, S Morey; E Boyce, K Lynch, S O'Halloran; C Galvin (0-1), T Kelly (0-2); C Malone (0-1), P Collins (0-1), J Shanahan (0-1); D O'Halloran (0-1), N Arthur (0-8, 4f), D Keane (0-3). Subs: A Cunningham (0-2) for Malone (45); A Mulready for O'Halloran (54)

DUBLIN: E Dillon; C Murphy, E McKenna, S McClelland; C Moffat, D Sutcliffe, B Quinn; D Kelly, B McCarthy; G Whelan (0-1), C Kilkenny (0-3), F Heavey; C Costello (1-1), E Ó Conghaile (1-1), D Flood (0-4, 3f). Subs: N Maguire for Kelly (27); J Hetherton (0-2, 2f) for Whelan (37); R Hardy (0-1) for McCarthy (41); N Ryan for Flood (58)

REFEREE: Eamonn Hassen (Derry)

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